I often wonder what it is in cricket or sports that makes it so interesting. Is it passion, inspiration, thrill, or simply entertainment? For me, it is the life lessons that we learn from watching sports.
Let’s revisit February 1988 Azad Maidan, Bombay. The famous 664 partnership between Vinod Kambli and Sachin Tendulkar in the Harris Shield semi-final clash against St Xavier when these two young schoolboys from Shardashram started batting with the on score 60/2 and kept on batting and batting until they rewrote history. Almost thirty years later we took a closer look at the journey of the key players involved to fine that there is so much to learn beyond fours and sixes.
Lesson 1: The Master
Tendulkar went on to become one of the greatest batsmen ever to have played the game. Of course it was his talent but we love him for what he did off the field too. No matter how successful you are, you have to be disciplined in life and humble with your actions. There were so many times that it was Tendulkar’s bat which silenced the critics – no matter what your field of work is, let your work do the talking. You have to be patient enough to wait for the right opportunities and once they come your way you have to grab them.
Tendulkar did not score a century in his first 75 odd games, maybe he was batting in the middle order and not getting enough chances. But one morning in 1994, in Auckland when Navjot Singh Siddhu did not play Sachin asked the captain to open the innings and scored 82 off 49 balls and the rest is history. So discipline, patience, humility and opportunity.
Lesson 2: Cry Baby Cry
When I say Vinod Kambli what image comes to mind?
Semifinal 1996 World Cup Eden Gardens.
Kambli had a flying start to his career with centuries and double centuries. But with so much talent what went wrong? It was discipline. Kambli’s off-field behavior started to affect his performance. Kambli’s sleepless nights in dance clubs made him miss the team bus on occasion. Remember everyone is replaceable nothing is permanent if you have lost an opportunity you have to work harder to get it back. If you are passionate about your work and something does not go the way you need it to, don’t cry just promise yourself that next time you will work harder. Not defending the Eden Garden crowd behavior, but they did not have enough faith in Kambli because Kambli had been inconsistent and impatient in his shot selection in earlier games. In the end, your talent is of no use if you are not disciplined, you have not generated enough trust among your teammates or followers and no one likes a cry baby so control your emotions – be it anger, joy, or sorrow.
Lesson 3: Luck By Chance
Not many people know the other kid who was about to bat next, Amol Mazumdar in that Azad Maidan game. Amol waited and waited to the extent that he never got a chance to play for India. Sometimes in life, you have to be at the right time and right place to get the opportunity. Imagine if Amol had been sent to bat instead of Tendulkar?
We all need a bit of luck to go in our way. Coach Ramakant Achrekar was continuously giving instructions to Tendulkar and Kambli to declare and let other players have a chance but they ignored it, and poor Amol was left to watch.
So what happened to Amol?
He kept on playing Ranji matches and when he retired he had scored the most number of runs in the Ranji Trophy and I am sure he will be happy looking back at his career. He made the most of his situation despite luck not being on his side.
Lesson 4: Hand of God
I will wrap up with my last lesson and it comes from coach Achrekar himself. Finally, when Tendulkar and Kambli talked to the coach he shouted at them to declare the inning, Kambli requested that he needed one more run to complete 350 but he was not allowed to continue and Kambli had to settle with 349 not out. Sometimes, you have to settle for something which you desperately need but you cannot have. How many times do we have to compromise when our parents have not purchased what we need. It was not about that one run but more making the opposition bat and winning the match – which they did by a record of 702 runs.