Cricket has a special connection in India and is probably one of the few languages that is understood across the country, across sexes and ages.In such a scenario I am thankful that I played first class cricket in this vibrant environment, and even more thankful for the lessons that the game has taught me. I admit freely that I learned more from cricketing arenas than academic institutions.
Cricket is a microcosm of life and I discovered so many aspects of myself and others while playing it that I would never have otherwise. Perhaps it’s this lifelike drama of the game that draws so many of us to it and keeps us glued to it.
I took to cricket much like anyone else in India I guess.
The game was easily accessible – all we needed was a bat and a ball and at times, even less. We put together teams of all kinds of sizes and numbers, irrespective of class, religion and community. We played in streets, empty plots, maidans, dusty fields, corridors with great passion and intensity.
As in anything else, those with greater desire, interest and persistence moved to the next level and played at school and club level. I remember insisting on joining a school that had a cricket team and raised hell for that. That rebellious move paid me rich dividends because it allowed me to play for the school, junior level state cricket and gave me an entry into cricket at an organised level – an entry that only a fortunate few could access in those days when resources were meagre.
The transition from the street or galli cricket to organised school cricket and state level junior cricket was a big one.
I quickly learned the discipline, the ethic and the behavior expected of a cricketer in an elite team. I realised that I had to earn my place and retain it by dint of showing character in adversity, by showing courage and team spirit, by contributing to the team performance in every possible way.
The stage offers you limited chances and when you get them, you are either prepared or not. Many of these lessons, learned even in losing causes, stand me in good stead even today. When I finally hit the ceiling of my cricketing career, it was more of a commentary of my lacking the stomach for the greater sacrifices required of me. I accepted that fact, albeit slowly, over decades.
My expertise, if it can be called that, comes from the deep interest I sustain in analyzing instances where we won, those we lost, and what we did or did not do in those circumstances. I explore the game even today, and find applications that hold true for the game and for life situations.Cricket has given me great joy and continues to do so, while delivering a lifelong learning of the mindset, expertise, team work, leadership and of the winning combination. It is fascinating.
While at that I am inspired by those who dig deep and bring to the fore great possibilities in any field – be it a common man or a star.
Sometimes these instances happen in moments that flash by and in some cases they happen over a sustained period of time. But any great act or thought inspires me for its sheer awesomeness, that feeling of having transcended a boundary and I stand wonderstruck at how they did it. Certainly that magic moment has come by, due to a lifetime of thinking in a certain way, of preparing in a certain way to deliver those performances. I continue to be amazed by such acts of love, creativity and courage on a daily basis.
A cherished milestone in my life has been the publication of my first novel, a cricketing novel ‘The Men Within’ in 2007, the first cricket fiction in Indian Writing in English which brought two of my great passions, cricket and writing, together. In its story about a cricket team with no hope, I introduced another of my great interests – the infinite capacity of the human mind and spirit and how it can be moved to perform beyond one’s known capabilities, to win against great odds.
I found many management philosophies that lent themselves easily to lessons on leadership, team building, motivation and sustained great results. I followed that book with another cricket book –a non- fiction title listing 50 lessons I learned from cricket in a cricket self-help book – ’50 Not Out – Lessons from Cricket to Excel in Life’.
I contribute to the world by way of my writing and sharing my experiences through my books and blogs, talks, lectures, workshops and seminars at schools, colleges, institutions.
Almost all of my work is centred around themes of fulfilling one’s potential, adopting the right mindset, the path to mastery, the ways of winning.
I served briefly as Chairman of Selectors for the senior Selection Committee in the Hyderabad Cricket Association a few years ago and contributed in the administrative side. I am otherwise available to youngsters, executives and business managers who seek advise and coaching from me to tackle specific issues in their journey. My biggest contribution lies in sharing my insights and holding the space for them to explore their possibilities.
To young entrants to the game my advise would be to focus on the process, to adopt a learning mindset, to practice the right routines, to evaluate themselves honestly and seek to improve day on day. Our limits expand as we push them. One’s performance reflects one’s preparation and nothing else. And all preparation lies in preparing at the craft, the body and the mind. Failures indicate a shortfall in preparation somewhere and requires urgent and honest correction.
That said one must adopt a healthy attitude to the game, be clear about the first principles on why one is playing and understand that cricket is after all a game. When one enjoys the means, the means becomes the end itself, and life cannot be better in such a scenario. Not everyone can play at the highest level, and everyone has a different story, so enjoy the game, take what it teaches you and move on to apply it in other areas of life.
If I were to do one thing differently in my life, I would have, in retrospect, reacted differently when I was dropped from the first class team for Hyderabad way back in 1987.
I was young and naïve, ignorant and too messed up to seek advise or correct myself. If I had known about the fixed and growth mindset as I do today, I would have recognized and accepted my shortcomings and worked on correcting them. Given my level of preparation it would have taken me but a short time to correct myself. I would have become a better cricketer and person, and if I ever left the game, it would have been as a choice and on my terms and not in a confused state of not knowing what went wrong. I learned from that experience and decided I would not do the same with my writing career.
I will continue writing on topics and subjects that seize my imagination and interest. I hope they also interest others, specially youngsters who may find some solace and confidence in knowing how to move forward and thereby feel secure in their efforts. I believe much of the inefficiency that governs our lives is due to our feelings of insecurity and I try to address how to overcome insecurity in my work. Certainly, I wish to continue writing and sharing ideas and experiences till the end of my time.
THE VIEWS AND OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN THIS ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR AND DO NOT REFLECT THE VIEWS OF SPEAKIN, ITS MANAGEMENT OR AFFILIATES. SPEAKIN MAKES NO REPRESENTATION AS TO ACCURACY, COMPLETENESS, CORRECTNESS, SUITABILITY OR VALIDITY OF ANY INFORMATION ON THIS ARTICLE AND WILL NOT BE LIABLE FOR ANY ERRORS, OMISSIONS OR DELAYS IN THIS INFORMATION OR DAMAGES ARISING FROM ITS DISPLAY OR USE.