Monday, June 27, 2011

Every man gotta right to decide his own destiny

"Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted in one moment
Would you capture it or just let it slip?"

      2001. Well, that's the thought that ran through my mind. The setting wasn't a clear summer day in Lords. Absolutely not. It was summer, clear skies - but in a barren paddy lost in the maps of Google. During summer, a little after the harvest, the fields are the only hope for budding sportsmen. Cricket matches are played from dawn to dusk and triumphant winners move on to the next round. There would be anywhere between 6-10 teams fighting it out in a knock-out format during a weekend.
     The selection of these teams posed a difficulty. You had to bat, bowl and field well in order to make these teams. One-dimensional cricketers would never make it to the team based on their excellence in a single aspect of the game. They wouldn't even be acknowledged. For most part of the year, they would remain in 3rd man or fine leg, swatting flies near the bush-marked boundaries. Once a month, they might be called upon to bat - during the practice sessions when no one else is in the mood. For budding bowlers, the opportunity always existed since hardly anyone wanted to bowl for long durations.
     I was always on the field only because I could outrun the rest of the pack. If the team was batting first, no one wanted to field later on. So a substitute had to be called upon. If we were chasing, the best batsman in the team would rest during the first session. Since the bowling rules of those days didn't allow a slinging action, I was called a chucker. Quite a pity, since a tiny man from SriLanka seemed to rule the cricketing world for that very reason. I could bat, but no one seemed to bother giving me a chance. Early in life, I had tried my hands at wicket-keeping but an uprooted off-stump hit me square on the forehead.
     Coming back to the story. One of those years, I struck a gold mine. Every time I stepped out to bat, I wanted to make it count. Fortunately it seemed like the roll of the die seemed to favor me. The selection committee felt that I could be given a chance that year. As the days trudged towards the first tournament of the year, I could feel the adrenaline rush within me. And soon enough the long awaited weekend arrived.
     Our captain won the toss and decided to bat. We had a good bowling line-up that could defend modest scores (during one of the games, the opposition kept waiting for a spin bowler.. they didn't realise that we didn't have one on our side). Surprisingly, I was asked to open the batting and my heart seemed to beat at the rate of knots. I felt my nerves standing on the edge as the bowler marked his run-up. The first ball went by my right side and the umpire signalled it wide.
     Suddenly, it seemed like someone had pressed the slow-motion button. The bowler came running and delivered, the ball pitched, moved-in, brushed my thigh and went through to the keeper. I didn't notice the bowler appealing, but as the finger raised up, my heart seemed to blow up into a thousand fragments. I couldn't hear anything as I walked back towards my team members. The rest of the game seemed like a distant movie.
      2011. The above image capitulated to a huge uproar at Mohali. Tendulkar looked like a sitting duck till the point he signalled for the UDRS (Under Dhoni Reviewing System). The decision was reversed, Tendulkar went on to play a match winning history, and the rest is history.
     I can't comprehend the reason why BCCI found it so hard to swallow the UDRS pill. It would give some unknown amateur a chance to play a once in a lifetime knock. Something that might make-or-break his career. Unlike mine, when luck deserted me a decade ago. If only someone was willing to review hot spot then, the one I got on the thighs, red in colour; where the ball had struck me.

P.S: The umpire who had given me out recently finished a 5-year term as a member of the local panchayat. His one decision changed my life, the public's decision changed his.

"You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime yo"