And its teacher's day..

Life is a learning process. You learn new things each day. But there’s always somebody who teaches you these things. And this could be anyone—a stranger you met, a friend who guided you, life taught you a lesson, a book you read—anyone.
And since today is teacher’s day, I felt like writing about this small episode that occurred a couple of months ago where I learnt how to play cricket. It’s about this bunch of people at my workplace who taught me something new, something that I never got a chance to do before, and something that drew us close too.
Now, I am a major cricket enthusiast. By enthusiast I mean one who can scream her lungs out when India wins, who considers Harsha Bhogle as Socrates when it comes to the gentleman’s game, who will stack photos of sportsmen and read on about their achievements and also someone who’ll have Kirsten Stewart’s expression if you ask her how has the average run-rate affected the match or what the pitch has to offer or if you randomly throw one of the cricket jargons at her?
Having said that, I can proudly boast that I am the only person who got trained from so many coaches for just one tournament. Even the most elite players in the history of cricket have never had so many coaches to train them, definitely not for the sake of one single day. I received personalized, attention to detail training, custom-made techniques, and the best part of it—all free of cost! And with my minimum knowledge and maximum spirit, here’s what all I learnt from these Masters.

Chapter 1. “How to hold the bat” by Merwyn a.k.a Paulie
My first teacher is someone who is crazy about anything that’s remotely sporty. Yes, he is crazy about angry birds too (Don’t raise eyebrows, it’s a sport!). But when it comes to playing and teaching it, he is all sane and will go out to help you at lengths, especially if you are a newbie.
“This one’s too heavy, that one’s for kids, and which one should I go for Paulie”?
“Bhai (as he calls me), take the bat you are comfortable with and connect with the ball.”
I am sorry, what? Did I hear it right? Connect with the ball? What does that even mean? He talks to others till my turn comes. I take my position at the crease and he bowls. And I see the ball approaching me. In my mind I go like Barney, “Challenge accepted.” I lift my bat as it comes closer; the ball zooms past me, my bats still in the air and it hits the stumps before I blink. What the hell just happenend!
This went on for a couple of times. He told me again, “Connect with the ball, Bhai. Don’t just lift the bat when you see the ball. Wait for it to come close, only then lift it and strike. Then he showed me the right way. “And if you can’t wait, you can keep hitting the ground slightly and lift and repeat this till it arrives.” According to him, that’s the first thing they teach rookies. Lift, hit the ground, wait, lift, hit, and deliver. So after a couple of hits and misses, I managed to learn my first lesson from Paulie and yes, hit a couple of shots too. But no boundaries still. Sigh.

#Moral: Don’t shoot aimlessly. Take a glance at your target, pull out your gun, fix your aim, and then pull the trigger.

Chapter 2. “How to get your stance right” by the one and only, Don
No, it’s not what you think. Let me stop you right there. I did not get mafia people to teach me. (If I did, why would I need to play in the first place?) It’s not an epithet either. It’s actually his name. Yes, it is Don. (Now, how many of us actually have such cool names that could scare and amuse people at the same time?)
For people who have seen The Ron Clark story, Dead poets’ society, Rockford, The Karate kid and a few more such movies know that all these movies have one thing in common. The portrayal of the affable and loving teacher. The one who’ll bring out the best in us from what is otherwise oblivious to us. If Don weren’t doing what he currently does best, he would surely fit into the shoes of the affable teacher; perhaps, an even better one.
“When you hold the bat, your wrists must be antagonistic to each other. Clench them hard, hold it tight. Your left elbow should point in the direction of your chin. Face it out, hold it higher. When you take a stance, your position should be such that you elbow faces the fielder at an angle. It’ll give you a good judgment as to where you can hit.” He said. I thought to myself,Hmmm. Interesting. What followed was a series of my poses trying to get the stance right. No, not that way, a little to the left, nah, move a little to the right, face the crowd and perfect! Similar to what photographers ask you to do. I sure must have looked funny fidgeting with the bat. Thankfully, he didn’t find it amusing and was patient enough to correct me every time I stood wrong. It worked wonders on the D-day.

#Moral: Your stance speaks volumes for you. The right one will always get you ahead. (The wrong ones might probably earn you a meme and make you famous).

Chapter 3. Keep your senses open and be vigilant by Amitji
Cricket or any sport for that matter is not just about the technique. You need to be alert about other things too, e.g. If the bowler steps or crosses the line before pitching, it’ll be a No ball. And such minute but important details are often taught by people who are calm observers. They take a backseat and have an overview of how the situation appears. Amitji exactly taught me this thing. During one such practice session when I was batting, he was the wicket keeper. Now, I stood quite a distance away from the crease after I took the strike and hit the ball, and he could have stumped and had me out. Instead, he chose to make me aware of this fact. He said I need to look out for the lines even while I am hitting or else stay close enough to get the bat there in time. Little things these but could change the face of the game when the time calls.

#Moral: It’s good to have blinders to focus but do not be blinded by it. Have a vision, not just a sight.

Chapter 4. Just do it by Pooja
Now, whatever the above listed people taught me, this girl demonstrated all of it. Had to be, she had captained the women’s cricket team in her college and this wasn’t rocket science for her. She actually helped me with what Merwyn wanted me to do; connect with the ball and also motivating me time and again about the game. Ever enthusiastic when it comes to playing, she herself put up a good show out there in the tournament. Now, where would you find people who will be in opposite teams and yet cheer for you and give you an insight on things? This girl did exactly the same thing even while we were pitted against each other in all good spirits. A true sense of just enjoying what you do while you do it.

#Moral: Do the best, chuck the rest.

Chapter 5. Express yourself by Prashant
Okay, you know the technicalities, you know the rules, you know your plus and minus points but that’s not enough. You must know to stand up for what truthfully belongs to you. You must go out and put yourself out there. You ought to know these skills. One such incident happened with me too. During one of our matches while our team was chasing, I was the wicket keeper and Prashant was one of the umpires. In the very first over, I happened to take a catch and the lady who was batting was actually out. However, I kept quiet. I did not appeal neither did the bowler. So, obviously she stayed back.
Prashant tells me after the over, “MH, she was out.”
 I said,“She was right, wasn't she? I felt so too. But you did not declare”!
“You did not appeal once, you did not even remark casually. And neither did your team. I kept waiting for you guys but none of you wanted to claim it. I kept quiet too.”
I was baffled by what he said.
“You have to voice yourself, MH. No point otherwise.”

That wicket did cost us. We lost the game. Luckily, it was the only game we lost that day.

#Moral: When in doubt, appeal/ask. Listen to your inner voice and speak up. It might just work in your favor.

Chapter 6. Where there is a sport, there always is sportsmanship by Ayaz
“Partner” as I call him or “Abu” as his tiny tot does, is a player class apart. He was the only one in my team whom I knew personally before I met the other team mates. In my first practice session with him, I ended up hurting a colleague in the leg. We did not practice together again. And the next time the two of us came together, it was the day of the tournament. In one of the matches, some major arguments broke up with respect to umpiring. This angered Partner a bit; he seemed pretty pissed but did not waste time in arguments. He just went ahead to make the highest total for the opposition to chase. Actions speak louder than words, aye? Eventually, our team reached the finals and in the final match, we ended up partnering. So when the opposition team decides to send the star bowler, he walks up to me. You might have seen in international cricket how these super senior players have a word with the nervous little ones and come and tip them off about the fierce bowlers; Ayaz did the same. He said, “See Mradula, you don’t need to do anything. This guy will bowl in such a way that the ball will itself come to you. All you have to do is hit and run. Remember, hit (pause) and run (pause). Rest, I am there.” What judgment I say! It actually unfolded the same way. I took a single and waited at the other end. Then, this guy takes the crease and lo and behold—he gives the bowler a run for his money. Needless to say, the match worked in our favour, we won and we were the Champions! *Tear of joy*

The best part: He was the best male player of the tournament.
The bestest part: When he was handed the best player trophy, he did not forget about Sameer—another star player who had an equal contribution in our team’s victory and said he was happy to share it with Sameer in his victory speech.
If there was a superlative degree above bestest, then it would be apt for this part: The player of the tournament was “my partner” in the final and we pulled off quite some runs together. Woohoo!

#Moral: If they raise a finger, smile, show them the palm and let your work do the talking. It’s always about the team. Never forget your team and those who were with you when you win or you lose. Be gracious and grateful.

Aaah! So much to learn from the little things and events in life! These guys taught me basic cricket and a whole lot of other stuff in just a short span of time. Moreover, except for Partner, everyone else belonged to a different team. Yet that did not stop them from teaching me the right stuff. And what more bliss than being declared the Champions, especially for someone who could not even hold the bat right before the game. This post is my testimonial to you guys out there, and no better day to do it than today.

Here’s to more such lessons to learn, joys to feel, teachings to impart, and fun to experience. 

The  Champions with Partner to my left, holding the two cups :)


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