I would have been a Cricketer but………………………………………….! Many among us Indians would identify with this statement, the missing words in the ‘fill in the blank’ being different to individual cases. With the game being the most powerful among organized religions in the country and the players virtual demigods, there is an official God too, it doesn't take any research or survey to know that a huge majority of Indians dream of becoming a Cricketer. Given the opportunity to earn pots of gold, it is now a viable; nay lucrative career option too. Not to forget the endorsement opportunities, the glitz, the glamour and fawning attention of the members of the fairer sex. The only hitch in the above scenario is, a place in the Indian Cricket team is possibly the most competitive career option. Including the fringe, you have to be one among a group of 20-30 players, 15 in a squad and just 11 in a team. Despite more tournaments joining the circuit, the gravy train still reaches only the top 100 odd players. This out of approximately half a billion aspirants. The mind boggles, the computer refuses to calculate the odds. No wonder then that almost all Indian men will have a story of regret to fill the above blank with.
As you have rightly guessed, this is my story. One of unfulfilled ambition, of dashed hopes, broken dreams. I know how it feels to be a Romeo, a Majnu, the Ek Duje Ke Liye Kamal Hassan, of unrequited love. Like most budding cricketers, I too started in the drawing room and moved out to gully cricket. I started as an outstanding player (a euphemism for a ball boy) and gradually moved into the locality playing eleven. As you know everyone playing gully cricket is an all rounder and I claimed to be one too. After a few years of regular practice and playing I came up against The Wall (simile Mates, not a real wall or Rahul Dravid) and that was the end of my ambitions of playing the game professionally. I was found out, I was sorted out. I didn't have the skills necessary to excel in the modern game. I was simply not good enough.
Like most budding Cricketers I too was blessed with certain amount of talent and a fair degree of skills in batting, bowling and fielding. These I soon found out were not enough to break into headlines. I was found wanting in some key areas, unfortunately. The first among these was being genetically engineered with a structure which was all of two-packs which no amount of gymming could convert into anything more substantial. Not that it affected my primary cricketing skills but it affected my ‘X-Factor’. The matter was further compounded by the fact that I was and am a teetotaler, liquor a sacrilege for me. All this meant I could never compete with those star batsmen who at the drop of the hat could confidently invade a pub, drink like a fish and still swing their fists with unerring accuracy and belt the opposition batsman black, ‘beetRoot’ red and blue.
The next short coming of mine which was quite obvious pretty early in my career even to me was my inability to use ‘colourful’ language. An upbringing which insisted that womenfolk be treated like the Sacred Feminine, I could never summon the courage to question the parentage, the well being of the mothers and sisters of the players in the opposition and occasionally of their fans in the stands and the Umpires. Nor could I get myself to shout ‘that’ word, a popular everyday slang, synonym of copulation/intercourse after taking a catch or dropping one. In spite of provocation from the opposition and the large hearted assistance that my teammates offered, I just couldn't muster the necessary energy to indulge in any verbal diarrhea, my limited and supposedly infamous vocabulary ditching me every time. After some time I just gave up trying.
Among my other small failings were not being a compulsive party hopper, not enjoying dancing especially in Gangnam Style, a distinct hatred to declaring myself physically fit when I was not so and blessed with poor acting skills. The last mentioned was a serious problem while going for those vociferous appeals. Without that I was sure I couldn't even become a ‘Buttler’ in the English dressing room.
The last but possibly the most important weakness of mine was an allergy to towels. No, no, let me clarify, not to all towels. I mean no one hates towels per se; at least not the ones who believe taking a shower is an effective and hygienic way to remain healthy. And I indulge in this water treatment as many times as Lord Varuna or the Corporation of Coimbatore would permit me. Nor do I have any problem with the gamcha, popular in East India though considered very down market. I didn’t honestly have an objection to a hand kerchief either. My allergy was to the smaller towels which are supposedly convenient to carry around by tucking them onto our trousers and are gaining in popularity. That effectively ended my tryst with Cricket as a player. Suffices to say from ambitions of being a ring leader, I now don’t qualify to even being a cheerleader.
This is fiction. Dedicated to the honest, hardworking and model Cricketers like the one mentioned by name and nickname in the note. And hope @arj_90 likes this.