Tuesday, September 25, 2007

On a C-rickety wicket

Cricket is not a suitable career for young men. No, it is not. The odds of being chosen in the Indian team is about 250 million to 15. And the fact that 40% of India's population is between 23 and 45 is not helping either.

So if you did a little bit of backpage math, you would realise that you need to start showing signs of being a cricketer at the age of 3 or 4, be recognised by your parents or a coach, or an elder brother or an uncle at the age of 5 or 6, find your first coach under whom you can find success in school by the age of 8, and start getting runs, and into a decent college team by the age of 14. Unless you're Tendulkar. Which, sadly, 999 million, 999 thousand, 999 of us are not. So then, you need to get into college, and start sucking up to the Ranji scouts who are slinking around MSSA and Inter College cricket teams, hoping to find some decent talent.

Then you need to be in the Ranji team and need to have scored atleast a million gazillion runs to be noticed for the Indian team. And even then there is no logic or pattern to that. You might have scored 50 runs in an important match where someone happened to have dropped you at the individual score of 4 but let you get a fortuituous 50 which saved the match and you got picked into a provisional A team squad. On the other hand you might have scored hundreds of thousands of runs for 10 years running, and while it is tough to run a family on just 500,000 rupees a year, half of which is spent on cricket gear and travelling, you have to thank your stars and hope that some day the Indian selection panel will happen to go ahead; make your day. Punk.

And ofcourse, you have to eat shit, and suck up to match officials, and team coaches, and senior players, and India players, and BCCI referees, and Match referees, and politicians, and selectors, and Zonal selectors, and groundsmen, and scorers, and umpires, and managers, and still more managers, and endorsement companies, and employing companies like Indian Oil, and Bharat Petroleum, and Indian Railways, because you never know when you will need regular employment. And you must kiss ass with retired famous players, and test discards, and treasurers, and secretaries, and joint secretaries, and under secretaries, and notable members of the board, and the regional board, and the central board, and county scouts, and county managers, because you would love to live in England for a year or so.

But all this is not enough to guarantee you a place in the Indian team. Depending on who likes you, and how much they like you, if you fail in your first game, or even if you score highly in your first game, you are liable to be dropped, or be "persisted with". You could be selected for a 3 month tour and never see the playing field except when you carry water out to the batsmen who are the stars. You could be selected for a one day tournament, and be forced to play at Number Six and be sent in to win the match with an asking rate of 8 per over. And you have opened all your life.

And you could have all the talent. And the luck. And the blessings. And the scores to back them up. And you could have the opportunity. And the occasion. And the spirit. And the aggro to back it up. But you could be playing football during a training session, and trip over the ball, and break your ankle, and have to spend 4 months on the bed, and in rehab. And in that four months, someone else took your spot. And an old has-been got a test recall. And all you could do is watch as someone else took your place in the world. And noone remembers you. And noone cares.

And being captain of the Indian cricket team is even worse. Ofcourse you should have the best team in the world, and you should beat everyone in the world. And when you query how this is possible, its because you are paid to stand in front of a camera and tell the world that your favourite brand of cola or biscuit or sweet or luggage or watch or fabric or shampoo is the best. That is the reason you must win. Not because you have no training on bouncy pitches. Or because you were so busy protecting your place, you forgot about the match and the team and winning. Or because you could not figure out who ran the team. You or some bureaucrat in delhi.

But on some days, it is all worth it. When the world is at your feet, and when everyone is a fan. And the world is a happy place where it rains money, and friends, and supporters, and happiness, and ticker tape parades and accolades and promise, and positive thoughts.

Yesterday was one such day.



Anonymous said...

Or stop feeling sorry about yourself and your unrecognized talent in one narrowed scope of pitch and look elsewhere to find that glory and bucks you deserve.

Ergo, cricket sucks.

Stick to soccer if you have to. Play well, avoid those injuries by training right (not like you would in cricket - that fat patch around your waist is not ok.)

Somethings are more glorious than thoughts of losing half your salary on gear and travel.

Probably easier said sitting in an airconditioned office, and commenting incognito.

But a take a look at the climbing community in Mumbai. They compete for the love of their craft. Their craft is not sport according to Indian Govt. Does that matter to them? Nope.

They take risks, and suffer more injuries than your average sports person. Their insurance lies purely in training well and squarely between their ears. Even a fraction of them can't afford it, is another matter.

They don't complain. They take their falls, sometimes live to climb another day. They simply love their sport.

- 321

Anonymous said...

just a clarification, the reference 'you' wasn't meant to you, utekkare. but guess you get the context.


Pranay the Srinivasan said...

Aha.. So you like the king of sports, eh?
I did climb once before my knees gave way.. Twas fun. Made me ridicule tom cruise for making it look so easy in MI-2 :) .... Anyways, dont turn up the air conditioning too much otherwise you might sneeze out too much information :)