I came out of my 6 years of self-imposed retirement from all forms of Cricket (!!) to play a 20 overs a side match for my son's Cricket Coaching Academy Parents team selection yesterday. No, its not like Martin Crowe's comeback, who wants to play a couple of games to achieve a milestone of 20000 runs in Cricket!! I don't have any ambitions with regard to Cricket now!
My retirement from Cricket was a result of I not being selected for the Office cricket team in 2005 and then took a decision not to play anymore "cricket ball" Cricket. Yes, I was upset that I was not included but has to accept the fact that I was past my prime even then. So to play yesterday was kind of a challenge, to say the least.
I was hoping that it would be a Tennis ball match but it turned out to be a match in a matting wicket with Cricket ball. For a moment, I thought, is it really worth it but looking at the fellow players made up my mind to play on. The heat was oppressive yesterday and the mercury soared to 40 degrees Celsius. There cant be a better day to play Cricket!! Not confident at all, of my leg spinning abilities and equally at discomfort with my batting abilities, I finally identified myself as an all-rounder!!
Our team won the toss and put the opposition into bat first. I was asked to bowl the fifth over of the innings as a leg spinner, which I haven't done even when I used to captain my College Cricket team . I managed to send in 3 good overs and the line and length were much better than expected, with an odd ball turning as well. I beat the batsmen outside the off-stump couple of times before scalping one wicket caught behind. So I should have remained happy with that but fate doesn't allow you to be. Captain gave the ball to me one more time and it turned out to be a disaster, a la, the fate of Abu Nechem by Gayle!! 26 runs were scored by the batsmen with 5 fours and a six. I felt how bad Abu Nechem or Stuart Broad would have felt when you are hit like that. Finally, the opposition scored 205 runs in 20 overs.
Our team started batting and it looked like we were playing for a draw from the first over!! After 10 overs, our team has scored 40 runs with 3 wickets. In another couple of overs, two more wickets fell and we were 47 for 6 in 12 overs. Our chase wasn't going anywhere, and went into bat at No.8. By that time, everybody in my team have resigned to their fate and the afternoon was meandering clueless. I also never tried to bat up the order and I think it is more to do with the Pongal and Medhu Vadai provided for lunch!!
First couple of deliveries I defended well and it gave lot of confidence. The bowling was no great and I decided to take it head on. For the next five overs, I played almost all the balls and scored a good 65 odd runs aided by 9 fours and 4 sixes. The afternoon came back to life and the spectators (the wards of the players) started cheering lustily. After a long long time, I raised my bat after scoring a half-century! When did I last score a half-century? Can't remember exactly. When you play a knock like that, it gives a world of confidence! When I was asked to retire after 17 overs to allow other batsmen to play, our score has moved to 130 in 17 overs. A total of 83 odd runs in 5 overs!!
So when I walked back to the pavilion, (ok, the neem tree shade!), there was a kind of standing ovation and almost everybody walked up to me and congratulated. It gives you a high which no other thing can give in this world. The Chief Coach, MK Iqbal was all praise for the innings and urged me to play more regularly. He even wants me to play lower division matches!! There is a match coming up on June 19 against the Chennai Doordarshan team and I am looking forward to that. The day after the match is the worst period one has to endure. The body pains and I have a sore shoulder as well. This is what you get when you play cricket once in a blue moon.
My son stayed late to watch the IPL on Saturday night and couldn't make it to the ground along with me on Sunday morning. It would have been wonderful if he had seen his father bat yesterday and would have set at rest, that all stories I keep telling him about my cricketing exploits are not concocted!