Emulating sporting heroes
It was a few days ago - during our school colts cricket season - when I was walking back with my team manager after the customary post-game handshakes and hip-hip-horas. My only-ever-second-innings had barely lasted five balls, with a couple singles, a defensive pull, and a wristy push to mid on.
I was disappointed. Amidst all this guilt of getting stumped while attempting a silly stroke, my team manager came up to me and said, "What was that?"
"No that was a bloody good shot. Look I don't want to be built on stereotypes, but that was an excellent shot. Much like a subcontinent batsman would play."
A crimson tinge appeared on my sun-cooked cheeks as I acknowledged his comment.
I had never learnt to play cricket on the dry dusty serpents in India, and yet somehow, I was much like the heroes I look up to.
Take for instance the great Kumar Sangakkara. The elegant left-hander is most memorable for all his back foot punches and serene cover drives. How about Gundappa Vishwanath: effortless leg side glances and delicate square cut bouncers. One can also recall Mahela Jayawardene's textbooky extra cover drives, laced with Asian grace. Not to forget the rather underrated Zaheer Abbas and his languid wrists that flicked all day long. And finally, there was VVS Laxman, who seemingly shared a gentle relationship with the red cherry. Even his square cuts were reminiscent of a flick of hair in slow motion.
To unleash the crux of the article: we emulate the heroes we look up to. No matter where you put an Asian, he will still be an Asian.
Reflecting back on this generalisation, one can now understand why a majority of Australian and South African batsman are great back foot players, while subcontinent batsman are nimble-footed and rely on caressing the ball rather than hitting. The nature of pitches also contribute to this age-old heredity that seems to be passing down generations. Moreover, there are exceptions too!
In any case, I look up to Virat Kohli. He is and was and will be my inspiration. Watching him with such attention to detail, my conscience seems to have picked some of his actions. Wristy flicks, short arm jabs and not-as-stunning cover drives. Even my trigger movement, collar up and wide-eyed glare come from him. I can't run like him, I can't speak up like him, but I still look up to him and copy him.
We emulate our heroes.
Or at least we attempt to. If you love ABD, you will attempt to be a freak. If you love Chris Gayle, you will attempt to stand and deliver. If you love Steve Smith….er, let's leave that alone, shall we?
To our heroes and role-models: Thank you for inspiring us with your existence and giving us a benchmark of excellence.