Love cricket, will play

At the ripe old age of 40 one is expected to know and live the adage that though the mind wills it, the body is slow to respond.

Updated: February 11, 2011 17:54 IST
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At the ripe old age of 40 one is expected to know and live the adage that though the mind wills it, the body is slow to respond.

It's so often that you discover that in all your sincerity to try and reach the elusive red cricket ball, you are left furiously running at the same spot - visions of athletically sliding to stop a ball flayed by an equally physically challenged over-40 batsman notwithstanding.

Welcome to the world of the eternally optimistic and equally enthusiastic over-the-hill weekend cricketers.

Time stands still, memories flood back and often talk of past glory punctuates these games played typically by cricketers (of varying sizes and shapes) to whom the game is more important than the eventual result - which more than often includes strains, pulls and pains of the muscular kinds (provided the muscles still respond!)

I have played this game since I can remember, often running the risk of being branded a willfully perjured individual, devoid of all moral worth by parents and teachers alike.

Yes, I don't remember when I started playing cricket but I remember every bit of the joy and happiness a child has when he is let loose and allowed to play the game the whole day. Food and drink were never issues and so too the threat of being locked outdoors by parents who were convinced that their only son would grow up to be a wastrel. Locked out I often was, but mostly rescued by my mom who, as all moms are, is a darling!

Cricket defined who I was, what I did and didn't and finally when I did become a tea planter in misty Munnar, it made me its servant for life. The then General Manager who interviewed me for the post of an Assistant Manager suddenly had a glint in his eye when I mentioned that I had played a bit of cricket through school and college.

To me it seemed rather funny that a 60-year-old portly gentleman would be so interested that I played the game. Today, when I interview young wannabe planters I am somehow partial to candidates with adequate "cricketing experience". I now relate to what it must have felt watching someone young join the company and carry on a proud tradition of club cricket.

Cricket for time immemorial has bound people from diverse backgrounds and cultures and has played its part as a true team-building activity. I would be willing to run the risk of being called a fool by many Human Resources pundits when I say that there is no team-building exercise or a training programme that can rival the dynamics of a cricket team.

People who have played this game and, funnily, even those that sit out and watch it, swear that while on the field and while at play every single player is a mate. Pride, passion and many such latent emotions that are not generally exhibited while at work or elsewhere in life by a majority of the people, are worn on the sleeve while on the cricket field.

There is not a better place to judge a person's character than on the cricket field. Tenacity, aggression, plain street-smartness and, above all, team work can easily be gauged by both the people playing and the keen spectator.

Today, cricket has far more acceptance as a career option with many other associated sweeteners, and for many, has lost its value as something you did to build character and teamwork. Not for me though. I would still be willing to run the risk of being locked out of my house, now by my wife, than to miss a match with the team.

With every passing year, one swears that this would be the last year one would make a fool of oneself on the cricket field. One knock, one spell of bowling changes all that. The love for the game never dies and strangely with every passing year you feel more and more passionate about it. I honestly don't know if it's the love of the game, living in the past or pure stupidity, but, boy, a flick down to the fine leg boundary can surely give you a high.

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