What can you do, Sanju?
Times have changed. So have fads, and beliefs. I dare not quote what good-old Jimmy Amarnath once called the selectors—with no respect lost.
They were what he called them to be, and they could be the same even after the turn of the century and with the advent of short and shorter formats of the game.
Today is Sanju Samson’s birthday. If 18 is a legal milestone as an age, 25 is, in many ways, a bookmark year. You are no more a boy. You think before you act. You regret some words you have spoken or throwing the bat or breaking the change-room window pane.
Your romance becomes love. Your gaze is no more fleeting; it holds, and your eyes begin to have a glint of all those years. You begin to attain maturity as a man.
As a batsman, you begin to hear a small voice within. A voice of reason. Your adrenalin doesn’t gurgle nor your blood boil. It just flows steady. You bury brashness in your own thoughts, and begin to leave the deliveries in the corridor of uncertainty. Head still and heart calm.
You know, Sanju, that you can walk down the track and pick up the ball with the ease of a boy having ice cream at the park. Or, pick it up from the middle-and-off and deposit in some cooler corner beyond the mid-wicket fence. Or, you can just meet it on the up and caress it through the covers between spellbound men. Before 25, you did all this with a gladiatorial heart, with a highwayman’s verve for midnight adventure to meet his love. Two hoots to danger!
But by 25, your shots are no more a teenager’s brash misadventures, flirting with danger, demons and death. By 25, your shots are expressions and manifestations of calm assurance, a weather-beaten captain’s seasoned composure; they are no more ice creams in tropical sun; they are wine in a wooden cellar, with their proverbial getting-better-with-age mark.
You don’t end up half-cock any more. Neither at the crease not in life. Your moves become definitive. You are either on the front foot, or on the back. The bat comes down in a lovely arc perfected over years—years of patient waiting for a chance to show the world what your talent can do for the country. Yes, a country of no less than 120 crore people.
Sanju, you said recently that you want to win the World Cup for the country. It is every young cricketer’s dream. The entire cricketing world knows that you have the ware to be any collector’s pride. But let us remember good-old Jimmy’s words.
The entire country thought you would get a knock against the Tigers, especially since you are in fine touch these days. Some guys’ stars are in such envious positions that they are given chances despite the string of their scores reminding one of a friend’s phone number. Some other guys are born to warm the bench.
We don’t know what they would do with you, Sanju. Good that they made you cut a birthday cake. We all need memories, don’t we? It could have been a few sumptuous drives to the cover or an elegant flick over the square-leg fielder. But certain things are not in our hands, are they?
At 25, you don’t kick the walls of the dressing room in frustration nor do you throw the bat or gloves around. You keep them where they are to be. And, you sit and reflect.
What else can you do, Sanju?
The new boss of the Board knows a thing or two about timing, and he knows, despite his privileges, how he had to bear the brunt of the selectors’s whims.
The entire world has seen how delectably you have destroyed some of the best bowlers around. Some of your shots were incredible in their sweetness, timing and elegance. The pundits get excited—they scream in the commentators’ box in adjectives supreme, they tweet of your supple wrists and rare panache…
At 25, you are not a boy anymore. Your lover is your wife now. Years have gained the shape of a life. There is some purpose; some calling.
At 25, you don’t fish outside the off stump as habit. You just let it go, and wait for the one which you can shimmy down and caress to the crowd.
That lovely swing of the bat!
Some shot, Sanju. Happy birthday