Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bowling maidens: A story I will always remember

So far, I have written about Cricket that I have watched and enjoyed. This is my first post about one of the matches I have played. Hope you enjoy it.

This is a story from a match that I played as a young 13 or maybe 14 year old. Back then, I used to take coaching at a small academy called Jasola Sports Complex, where there weren't too many kids. Our coach was Rajinder Singh Hans. Back then, he was coach of Uttar Pradesh's Ranji team and even lead them to title in '06. He was also part of junior selection panels, DDCA and later went on to take up coaching for Jharkhand Ranji team. I was one of the best batsmen and fielders in the academy, though it was largely because of the lack of any real talents. Due to the lack of wicket keepers in the academy, I had started donning the role of glovesman. This is the story of my first match as a WK.

However, that isn't the special part. The notable thing is, it wasn't a match against some boy's team, rather against a team of girls(as the title suggests). The opposition team consisted of 5-6 players of India's then Women team(though they didn't include any big names like Mithali Raj or Anjum Chopra) along with other members of Railway's Women team. The match was held at Karnail Singh Stadium in Delhi, home ground to the Railways. Needless to say, the pitch was far better than those I had ever played on. It was faster and way more bouncy than what I was used to. Our team consisted of 6-7 players from our academy, with 4-5 players from another academy where our junior coach, Tara Chand, used to practice. These 4-5 guys were good fast bowlers and useful hitters as well(most of them were trying to break into Delhi Ranji team).

The day didn't start well for me as I puked on my way to the ground. I was feeling weak and wasn't really up for it. But, I just wanted to play and plus our team didn't have a second WK. We lost the toss and they batted first. The first few overs were bowled by the youngsters from the other academy, who were quick and I had never seen them before. So there I was, doing keeping in my first match as WK, against some really quick bowling on a fast pitch.

To say that I had a torrid time, would be an understatement. The ball had such amazing carry that every time one of the guys(even those who were from Jasola) bowled a wide down the leg side, it just flew past me. I conceded many byes and was a real disappointment. As a hopeful budding cricketer, I had the habit of noticing the other team's batsmen(batswomen in this case). What I noticed, was that every player that came to the crease was determined, technically sound and friendly. Some of them realized that the young kid with the gloves was having a tough time, so kept encouraging me. It was very relaxing and even though it didn't help my performance, it was certainly good for my morale.

At the end of their innings, they had piled on a good total in the 30 over friendly game(I can't quite remember the total). Tara Chand, our junior coach, who thought very highly of me, asked me if I wanted to open the innings. But, I was feeling weak and clearly having a bad day, so I declined the chance, hoping to bat later after recovering some energy. This is one thing I will regret, because I didn't get a chance later. The match went to the last few over and with help of the powerful hitters from the other academy, we went onto win it. Largely, our batting and bowling was handled by the other lads though.

Even though I didn't perform well, it was a fantastic learning experience for me. I saw amazing grit and passion in women. They were very encouraging, friendly and treated us like their younger brothers. They always had a word of advice for us, and in fact, one of them put her arm around me after the match and asked me to keep working hard and staying focused. The respect for Women's cricket immediately increased in my mind. Ever since, I became a regular follower of it. I don't remember any names otherwise would have mentioned it no doubt.

In a weird way, they were the perfect ambassadors for the gentlemen's game of Cricket.

PS: A few days after this match, Delhi played a ranji game against them at this ground. Virender Sehwag expressed his disappointment at the 'poor quality' of the pitch. I was rather surprised that such a fast, bouncy track wasn't even considered good enough for domestic cricket. In a way, it shows the standard of cricket I used to play.

Wish to read more on women's Cricket ? Check out this wonderful post by Greyblazer. Special thanks to friend and blogger Praful Patne for the title and encouragement.

Also check out my other blog on non-cricketing issues here.

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  1. A very interesting anecdote. I would like to read of more such experiences.

  2. Fascinating, and an experience I regret I never had in my playing days.

    To follow more on the sport try my site at ...

    Just watching I've become 'hooked'.

  3. Welcome to the blog and thank you for the wonderful comments.

    @fromthegully - Pleased to see that you liked it. Will certainly share if I have other such stories. Keep reading and commenting.

    @Don - I went through your site and good to see that you have been such a keen follower. Do check out the article by Greyblazer which I have mentioned at the bottom of the post.

  4. Good one Mayank,
    Must be great not to have ended up losing, eh?

    and thanks for the mention,

  5. Thanks Praful. It was certainly good to be on winning side, else I would have been the 'Match ka Mujrim'. LOL !!

    I must thank you. Had you not asked me to write a post on it, I wouldn't have written and remembered one of my most cherished cricketing experiences. :)


  6. Thanks MJ. I have been wondering all along if I did read your name in the newspapers sometime. Now I know I wasn't mistaken.

  7. SB,

    It was published in Dainik Jagran, Punjab Kesari and 1-2 other papers when I was around 14 or so, due to good performance in some tournaments. But those matches were published in 2-3 lines in some corner of sports page.

    You have got to be a keen reader to find my name from that. :)


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