By Pranjal Sharma

 

Disclaimer: I make no claim to be objective in this article, it comes for my team, and it comes from the heart. I am personally biased in favor of all players local. I will be biased here too and I am writing this article as an active player of my team. 

The day is upon us, almost. Pinnacle of the WCL season: The finals of the premier format in the Premier Division! It is a duel between two teams who have vanquished other great teams on their way to the finals. These two teams are markedly different: in philosophy, in composition, and in principle. The other team, Zolon Challengers Cricket Club, is a team of stars paid for and assembled by a money-loaded corporation after scanning Asia and scouting the Americas. A lot of them are professionals who earn their livelihood from cricket, make no mistake they ARE very good. There is even a former Test match player in the roster, and most are First Class players from around the world playing a high level of cricket. A truly international team and hired to do just one job: bring home the cup. This team was expected to be in the finals, anything less would have been money down the drain, literally. As far as their performances on the field go, all the best to everyone there, but if I really have to I would rather see Fahad Rizvi score some good runs than someone I am probably going to see the first or second time in my life. But that’s just me. And that’s enough bytes dedicated to Zolon.

Now let me talk about MY team, Boyds. We are a team of all local players who almost everyone in the league knows by name and frequently socializes with. We reached the finals against all odds, yeah, pun intended (odds which we never bought into). Besides the love of the game what brings us together every weekend is enjoying each other’s company. There is a reason why a majority of the players who make up the Boyds team have been in the team for many years. Newer players who join the team love it for the environment in which the team plays. The top management of the club has created an atmosphere of trust and friendship. There is absolutely no politics in the team, none! Manish Lodaya is invisible on the cricket field during a game, but he makes a lot of good things happen in the background. As for me, I look forward to seeing each and every player in my team every weekend. There’s not one player in the team that I don’t see eye-to-eye with, and I’m quite certain that’s the case with all other players in the team. And that is what the beauty of being in the Boyds team is. It is a TEAM in the real sense of the word. We might not be Test or First Class players and we might not earn our livelihoods from cricket, but we ARE a team that wants to win, and we are a team very capable of doing so. We did not get to the finals by chance.

To me, every member of my team holds a special place, not only because he is my teammate, but also because each brings a unique quality and perspective to the field. Every game I come to, in my mind I try to pick who would be the star of the team that day. I’m mostly wrong, as somebody else does a better job than my earmarked guy. But regardless, almost every game sees a different star. One day I am thrilled to see a Roshan Rao and Adil Bhatti special scoring at 13 runs an over for 10 overs, oh how much I love to see them bat; and another day I see a Shabir special: and here I mean him getting people bowled or caught is routine, what is special is his in-your-face aggression: how dare the batsman play his ball at all – this is when he pulls his muscle too :-). He’s our Rhino. Raghav brings such peaceful violence to the crease. I remember some time back when he was in the opposing team and hitting sixes almost apologetically, I couldn’t help but feel the class of his batting. No ball is too fast for him and no spin too much; he’s so calm and unhurried. Then there is that silky smoothness of Akash’s drives or the stubbornness of Zain to stick around. Shaan wants to bowl every ball faster than the previous but you never know what the wily fox Asif has in store for the next ball. And what can I say about MYK! He’s an opening batsman now (after his century he thinks he should keep that spot till his retirement and we never hear the end of it), then he keeps wickets (and after the game whines that his fingers are too swollen to fit in the glove anymore), then he bowls: don’t know how his dollies get him even one wicket, leave alone many; but they somehow do! Ankit is similarly talented: he bats, bowls, and keeps. And he always makes it a point to let Basheer know he does it better than him. When Ankit hits a ball, it winces in pain (and when Shabir does, it screams in agony). You can also find him fighting with Basheer right outside the boundary on why the white elephant crossed the road, and it is a very serious fight; only to find them laughing together later that evening at the Hookah bar! Good as they are when keeping, when Zak keeps he looks like he was born to keep. Stays low, dives around, catches everything. Superchamp! He has earned a few people a few wickets for sure, and everyone will vouch for that. Deepak is a very versatile, reliable, and determined batsman: send him to open or number seven, he’ll give you runs. Then there is my spin buddy Akhil Sehgal. He’s a load of energy on the field. You dare not misfield a ball on his bowling, or you’ll hear a scream first and then a lecture on how each run matters. He’ll never look at you when he misfields, it’s like sh!t happens, so what! When the opposing batsman hits a 90 meter six over long on, he calls it a top edge. Yeah, he’s competitive, very. I miss you, bro. Other players that have played with us at different times during the season; Tanzir, Bilal, Aasim, you all are awesome guys and I always love to be in your company.

Then there is me. Yes, I love myself too. Every year right after the season I ask myself why I’m playing with hair greying more every day, joints aching, knees hurting when climbing the stairs, and then there’s the wife who once loved cricket before marriage but does not anymore because I play it! That’s when I decide in my mind, “that’s it!” no more cricket. But I’m afraid to share that news with my wife, because then I fear that she will make me keep my promise, so it stays with me. Then one day in March, I get a message from MYK: “Pranjal bhai, all set for the season?”. So the promise goes to the backburner, I console myself it’s a promise deferred, not broken so everything is fine. In my mind, I thank Basheer he called me because secretly I wanted it too. Because whatever the age and whatever the condition of the body, when the mind wants it, it gets it! Who am I to come in the way of such a strong power? And so there I am, suited for the first game for yet another season! This my friends, is the life of 50% of WCL cricketers, and 99% of all married WCL cricketers.

So far nothing on the game itself? Yes, that’s right, this article wasn’t meant for that. It was only to appreciate what I have in form of my teammates. At the game, I cannot predict the result, but I can assure you is that each Boyds player will try his heart out to help his team win. We may or may not win against a great opposition, but we won’t come out regretting our effort there. We might falter, but we will recover and we will not give up. On that note, please come and support your own BOYDS CRICKET CLUB. Go Boyds!!!

One last word to Mr. Oddsmacher, Mr. Mooney, Mr. Vargas, and Mr. Comma. Keep going guys, you are providing good entertainment for the readership. I know sometimes I’m harsh on you, but as I said that’s because I’m biased toward my own opinions. But all’s well! Come and enjoy the finals, it will be a spectacle with lots of food, music, wit, and yes, CRICKET. God speed, everyone!

 

 

 

 


 

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