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Cricket for India

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Cricket for India

Cricket for India

CRICKET - THE RIGHT CHOICE
 

- By VVS Laxman   

Cricket for India

Cricket is my life. It has given me the opportunity to represent my country, not just at home, but all over the world. What matter the most to us cricketers are the prayers and support of our fellow-Indians. It feels great when strangers accost you and say that a certain performance by you 'did the country proud'. When a cricket-crazy teenager names you as his 'role-model', it makes you conscious of two things - the enormous responsibility on your shoulders, and the fact that time has indeed flown. For it was not very long ago that I was one of the many kids who wanted to play cricket at the highest level and emulate my heroes; Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Viv Richards, David Gower and Greg Chappell.

Every Indian child dreams of becoming a cricketer at some stage in his life and I was no exception. For my generation, the supreme moment was the World Cup win in 1983. Its impact cannot be gauged in words. I was eight years old then, and my interest in cricket soared from then on. My maternal uncle was a gifted cricketer who played in the local leagues, and as a kid, I loved watching him practise. My brother and I would visit our grandmother's place every Sunday to play cricket with him.
 

It was my uncle who guided me in my childhood years. In 1986, he took me to the plot of land opposite my grandmother's house, where M.V. Narsimha Rao, the former Test cricketer and Hyderabad captain, had started the St. John's Cricket Academy. Until then, I had no idea about representative cricket, and was quite content playing in the neighbourhood. My uncle made me join the Academy, and thus began my 'formal' cricket coaching. The coaches at the Academy loved the game deeply, and their enthusiasm for the game was contagious. Can't say that we boys ever complained about it!

The Academy was the turning point, and things happened rapidly thereafter. An unforgettable moment was meeting Azhar (Mohammed Azharuddin) for the first time. I was 16 then, and it was fantastic to chat with the then captain of India. He was a fellow Hyderabadi and an icon. Not surprisingly, all the boys in my age-group looked up to him. His words of encouragement ensured that my desire to excel in cricket remained as intense as ever.

 

But it was not only cricket that I wanted to excel in. I had always been a good student, and wanted to become a doctor like my father, my ultimate role-model. My alma mater, Little Flower High School, had laid more emphasis on academics than sports, and I was always mindful of the fact that in order to keep playing cricket, it was important for me to maintain an excellent academic record. My parents helped me strike a balance between cricket and academics with a practical tip - 'Give your 100 % when you play, and 100 % when you study!' In my school-days, I tried my best to follow their advice.
 

I knew that a day would come when a choice would have to be made between cricket and medicine, and it did after my 12th Grade Examinations. It was a tough call, but my parents gave me complete freedom and my uncle convinced them that I had the talent to play at the highest level. Finally, I decided to give myself five years in cricket. If things did not work out, I would return to medicine. This happened in 1992, and I made my Test debut in 1996.

 

The eight years since my debut have been marked by moments of elation and depression. However, every experience, be it positive or negative, has been a learning one, and I hope it stays that way. Our foremost objective is to take India to the top of world cricket in the months to follow. The trip to Holland for the tri-series will be a new experience, and we have to wait and see what kind of conditions we are in for. The tournament is part of the ICC's endeavour to spread the game to different parts of the world. With three strong teams pitted against each other, I am sure that the cricket will be of a very high quality.

The End

 


- By VVS Laxman   

Cricket for India
 

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Sledging - Yes and No

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