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Thursday, November 01, 2007 

White Lightning

If cricket is education, the TV has been my teacher. I can not clearly recall whether I first held a bat in my hand or saw a match on TV. It must have been the former in all probability though as I do remember having had a plastic bat while the first match I saw was probably India vs. West Indies in 1990 when I was seven years old. Needless to say the game grew on me since then.

One of the downsides of watching cricket on TV, at least for me, was that I was so overwhelmed by the mastery of the players playing on TV that it inhibited my instinctive talent. Even though India did not have a rip-off fast bowler in those times, I somehow got hooked up to fast bowling. Of course I developed a legitimate bowling action (read: non-batta (eeta, chuck, throw)) only by age 7 or 8 and by then the TV had taken over me. The first time I send down the legitimate bowl I copied a bowling action. Not sure if it was Ambrose or Marshall, but that was how it started. In an effort to emulate such great bowlers I ended up copying their bowling actions. As a kid you only know that you need to bowl fast and hit the stumps. Line and length were not part of the thinking process.

Through the early days I had spells of being fascinated by a particular bowling action. Starting from Ambrose, McDermott and after the world cup in 1992, Aaquib Javed. These were very short phases though. My first real stint with a particular bowling action was Dany Morrison. I loved his bowling. He was all of 5 feet and 8 inches and sent down bullets. Then came the more my capacity phase of Heath Streak and by class 7 or 8 it was Damien Fleming.

As I came to class 9 we started playing inter class matches with the leather ball. Desparate as I was to get in the team, I decided that I had to do something special. I thought to myself who has the most beautiful and successful bowling action around. Since I was right handed, a fact I regret sometimes because it stopped me from copying the best of them all you know who. I settled for the then best right hander. With sunscreen around his lips, a little on the tip of his nose and the ability to swing the ball both sides at pace Allan Donald both looked dangerous and bowled dangerous.

I started with some success in class 9 and 10 with his bowling action becoming the best bowler in my class. Come class 11 things were different, I was in the science section which was supposed to be made up of geeks. We played one of the commerce sections and I got michelle. It was my first time. Michelle again is an Australian slang for five wickets, which they used call fifer and then after the actress michelle phifers name they started calling it michelle. We beat the commerce section in that match and in the next revenge match as well. In the second game I dismissed the captain of the school team with a slower delivery. He was so foxed that he invited me to play for the school team. That didn’t materialize though, but I was one of the best bowlers in my school for two years straight.

Then I came to IIT. The Donald action was with me, and I tried to bring it to life again. It had died by then. Something killed it. The only chance I got to play in 1st year at IIT I was given an old ball and only two overs. The two overs went for 12 runs. I knew that Donald had to go. It was now time to graduate to a more adjustable bowling action. An action that made me more famous than my actual bowling skill initially. Since then which ever team I have played for, Kara, IIT, Evalueserve I have been referred to as ‘hamara McGrath’. Things that are exterior to you have a shelf life, they work for you for sometime and then they don’t anymore. You have got to be innovative all the time in life to stay ahead. It is hard to give up on things that brought you success, but being inventive is important to survive. On the other hand, internal facets are much more concrete and pretty much live and die with you. And you don’t copy these facets from other people because these are things which truly define you.

How much impressions have impacted my life is probably apparent in whatever I do. Simple mannerisms that I have are inherited from people around me. Like those who have closely observed me would know that I rub my eyes ever so often. That’s my dad’s. Whatever acting skills I have are mainly imitations and mimicries of other people, I am grossly incapable of exhibiting emotions on my own. I have found it hard to deliver a style of my own in every field. But then again that probably is my style and I kind of like it. What fun is it to be the same guy for all years anyway? I am so happy that I imitate anything and with the grace of my parents have the sensibility to take the good and leave out the bad. Not many people, I believe, are born with that gift.

You know, one day I marked my run up and did a bit of free-your-mind exercise. I thought lets try to see what bowling action comes out naturally. I got nothing. It made me realize how the bowling action is an exterior quality, a manifestation of what I have learnt from people around me. But the ability to copy and absorb impressions is an internal facet, that’s not something I learnt from someone else.

Bottom line - no matter how hard you try to be someone else you can never succeed. What you are you always will be, its up to you to acknowledge it and appreciate.

And I believe best part comes when u leave such a mark on things that others start appreciating ur habits or style of doing things!!!

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