Thursday, 14 March 2013

I Love Sports...???

I know the question marks at the end of that statement are a little surprising,especially coming from someone who has spent the better part of their last 10 years playing competitive sports. But i guess no matter how much you love doing what you do, there can be some small tiny part of it that you wish was different.

Sports is something that has given me so much. I love being in a team, surrounded by people with fantastic skills and so much to learn from. I love the training involved, physical and mental. I love the single mindedness that the game demands, that every ball demands every ounce of concentration that you have,else you will see the ball disappear somewhere far, far away. This single mindedness allows me to be able to leave everything else behind when im on the top of my mark. Its a different kind of peace of mind. I love the challenge, the elation when the ball kisses the edge, the sound when it grips the pitch slightly when its released just right, the pats on the back when i've got the breakthrough.

So what's not to love?


Yes i know winning and losing is part and parcel of the game. But off late it got me thinking. Sports can never be win-win. Its always win-lose. I hate losing, but I accept defeats graciously and pick myself up and get back on the ground the next day. But every defeat is a dream dashed, loved ones let down, hours of hard work proven to be insufficient. Its an incredibly unsettling experience, especially if you have just lost a big match by a close margin.

Some of my friends work in a tough corporate environment, a dog-eat-dog world. I always felt that i would never want to have their jobs, where a step up the ladder means pushing someone down. And then i realised, i'm already there. Everytime i put in an hour at training, not only am I spending it for the benefit and glory of my team, but also spending it plotting the downfall of another. And suddenly I realised, this is a part of sports that I can't bring myself to feel good about. Where when someone has climbed a mountain and touched the peak, someone else, who is trying to climb the same mountain, has to be pushed off a ledge somewhere along the way.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Superstition Vs Sunburn..

So this is for all my friends who have played cricket, and i'm not just tallking about competitive cricket, but any cricket : gully, street, school playground, apartment balcony, Lord's, wherever. All of you will know exactly what im talking about. Its about our little, or not so little, superstitions within the game.

Now dont confuse these with routines. Putting on your left pad first, tying your laces a certain way, or praying before hitting the field are all more routines than anything,even if they do have a flavour of superstition about them. No, what im talking about is more sporadic, and yet something that is seen very uniformly across teams and i suspect across cultures as well.

The reason i got to writing this is that we were very recently playing a match in which something curious happened. Our openers were batting, and the rest of the team was sitting in the spot on the ground which we had occupied the match before as well. Incidentally, the match before was a cakewalk for us, and we were carrying in confidence from that encounter. As the sun began to beat down on us, about half the team moved to a shadier location, and the rest stayed close to their kit bags. Around this time things started going downhill in our chase. what should have been a regulation chase, turned out to be a bit more 'interesting'. Our middle order got some exercise they were not expecting, and our short tail had to pad-up in a bit of a hurry.Although we got over the line, we had our hearts in our mouths for a bit. somewhere in between, our team management called us all to sit together, in the sunny spot, and we fell in without question. Nobody said it, but everyone was thinking, "shouldnt have gotten up in the first place!" Whats a little sun burn when compared to a tension free commanding win eh?

So im asking all of you; my 'cricketer ' friends, who hasn't experienced this? Who hasn't been glued to their seats during a budding partnership? Who hasn't stopped themselves from going to the bathroom even when they were bursting, just to make sure they are not d reason our team didn't get the win? Who wants to make sure that they do everything right, even the silly things, to feel the joy and relief in the end?

Like i said, if you are a cricketer, you know what im talking about..and you are smiling right now, and thinking about the time you chose superstition over a sunburn..