This blog can be felt also by reading, as many of you may have experienced this unwanted but “necessary” hearbreak the same as me. If you haven’t read the previous blog click here and read it.
After waiting for a long time, I joined the cricket academy. I was playing well, practicing every day, improving day by day and I was living my dream.
I still hadn’t played my first match for my club and was eager to make an appearance in the team. Since there were many established players in the club, the chance of getting selected in playing 11 was very difficult. It was a bit easy for juniors (U19) players to make a place in the junior team. But since I was 21 years old then, I had to prove myself to play in the senior team. Most of the senior players had quite good match experience. And concerning the team one had to be very lucky as every team wants someone who can contribute to a winning cause.
But I was smart enough to build good relations and rapport with senior team captain ‘Deepak Shetye’. During the practice sessions I used to discuss many things(cricket & other than cricket) with Deepak. It improved my bonding with the captain & he knew my hunger for cricket.
I started learning the match skills from him like “How to setup a field for our own bowling”,
How to change the field according to situation,
How to conserve your energy during the match,
Using the new & old ball,
Which field position should I field in,
How to start innings while batting,
And many other things…
Our club regularly used to host matches on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s would be mostly for the junior team and Sunday’s for the senior team. The squad members of the senior team were fixed and it was tough to make a place in the team.
On a Saturday, late in the evening Deepak called me on my landline and asked if I could play the match on the next day. Two senior players were unavailable due to their other commitments and hence I got the chance to play my first match for the club. I instantly replied ‘Yes’ to the captain. On that Saturday night I could barely sleep. All night thoughts of the match were churning in my head. I started planning about how I bowl, how I field & how I bat.
I woke up early in the morning and got ready. The match was on the same ground as our club. Reporting time was 8.30am, but I reached at 7.45am on the ground. I did my warm-up & stretchings and started doing the basics.
I was very excited to play my first match. Slowly one by one players started reporting at the club. Within 15 minutes every player of the team was on the ground.
I started counting team players. There were a total of 12 players including myself. I got confused, how could 12 players play in a match? Maybe the captain has called some extras. I was not worried since the captain had personally called me & I had good rapport with my captain. I started thinking, who might be those two players?
Captain reported at around 8.20am. Now there are a total of 13 players & suspense raised as he started writing the team on Team List. Till number 6, I was not worried. But as the captain wrote 8 & 9th, my tension increased. He wrote the names of 10th & 11th and…..
I was not in the playing 11. It was so heartbreaking and I felt humiliated. I couldn’t stop my tears & went to the washroom. I washed my face and pretended not to cry. But eyes don’t lie. Captain knew that I was disheartened.
He went for the toss. He won the toss elected to bowl first. After the toss he came back to the pavilion and instructed the boys about the match plan. Match started at 9.00am. It was a 35 overs one day match. All the boys went on to the field except the two of us. Our team was doing well in the field. Seamers were bowling well and had an initial breakthrough with a couple of wickets. Me & my mate were given a duty of providing drinks to the opening fast bowlers when they came to field at the third man position or deep fine leg position.
After 15 overs, the first drink break is called. Captain instructed the opening seamer to take some rest and called me & my mate inside the field. Since I was very lean and agile he kept me at mid-off. I fielded there for 10-12 overs and then was called off the field & was not called to field again.
The Opposing team scored 175 odd runs. After a 45 minute break our team went to bat. We won that match quite comfortably with the captain leading from the front scoring a stunning half century. Me & my mate were the drinksman throughout that inning.
After the game was over, we were doing cooldown & stretching. Captain came to me and asked,“How was your match experience?”
I smiled in reply.
He then continued,“Every new player has to go through this. Being an ‘extra’ in the team is the first step to be established in the team. Though you were in extras, you’re in my sight, I’m watching you closely. Extras are also a big part of the team and have a role to play as they also get a chance to prove themselves. So never say no for being ‘Extra’. You never know when ‘Extra’ will become ‘Skipper’.”
He dropped a ‘thought’ in my mind before dropping me at home.
Moral: Opportunity can knock your door unknowingly, you just have to be smart enough to grab that one with both of your hands.
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