From a potentially career-ending car crash to TNPL: The story of Nilesh Subramanian
In the final year of Engineering is when most people start to figure out if this is what they want to be doing for the rest of their lives. But one ambitious student already had life figured out, or so he thought.
While he still had plenty of papers to clear, they meant little as he was an emerging cricketer who was swiftly rising through the ranks having begun playing League cricket in Tamil Nadu at the age of 11.
In fact, there was even talk that he would make the probables for the Tamil Nadu side that year. Life was going according to plan and things seemed to be looking up for the boy from the banks of the Thamirabarani river who idolized Adam Gilchrist and dreamed of being a professional cricketer playing in front of packed crowds.
Even when everything seems to be going according to plan, life has a cruel way of showing us that we are never in control. And so it proved to be. He was involved in a car accident that not only deprived him of his dreams of playing cricket but also, almost his life.
That was in 2014.
The story of Nilesh Subramanian seemed to be over even before it began. But the wicketkeeper had other ideas. Instead of crying over spilled milk, he decided to overcome adversity and show courage during days that seemed darker than the worst nightmares.
When recalling his accident in an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda, Nilesh admits that the accident had a major impact on his career.
"I was in the peak of my career at the time, scoring really good runs in first division and I was in the reckoning for the Ranji Trophy season but life took a U-turn for me. I didn't play cricket for one and a half years and I literally had to start from scratch again."
So did he ever think of giving up on cricket and just focusing on his studies? Did a near-death experience change his priorities in life? The answer is one that epitomizes the kind of person Nilesh is. Even in the darkest nights, he seems like a guy who would still be able to spot a silver lining and find a reason to continue.
"Actually there was, I was in the final year of my chemical engineering when that happened and I had a lot of papers lagging behind due to of a lot of matches. Maybe that was a blessing in disguise to complete the papers and finish my degree," he says before adding that following his Chemical Engineering degree from SSN, he is currently pursuing his MBA at SRM University.
Even before the accident, was it difficult to study and play cricket at the same time? "It is a very, very difficult thing to manage studying as well as playing cricket but at the end of the day it is quite challenging and I like challenges," he says with a wry smile.
Although he didn't get to do the one thing he loved doing from when he was a little kid for over a year, his passion for the game didn't diminish and he remained resilient even in the face of the stormy seas he had to navigate through.
"Performing well for the past few years and getting into an accident and then starting from scratch, it is very difficult for any sportsperson to be honest. It is like going two steps up the ladder and coming back four steps down. It was very hard initially to take it and move on. But once I started accepting the reality, that made me work even harder to achieve my goals and dreams."
In 2016, his dreams were reignited and his faith rewarded as he was picked up by the Ruby franchise for the inaugural edition of the TNPL. Although he had been scoring runs by the bucketload in league cricket, the southpaw admitted that he was really anxious ahead of his first game for the franchise last year.
"Before the first game, I was really anxious, I wasn't able to get any sleep. But once I stepped onto the field it was totally different once I started focusing on my game," he says when speaking about his first game in the TNPL.
In his own words, the journey so far, has been pretty hectic, so how has it been to share a dressing room with international cricketers like Brett Lee and Tinu Yohannan thanks to the TNPL? Especially the latter, with whom he enjoyed a different kind of relationship from their time together as players at Jolly Rovers.
With Yohannan, Nilesh says that time they spent together as players, for Jolly Rovers, before the accident has given him a "comfortable rapport".
"Brett Lee was a fun guy to be with," he says. "Singing songs for us, playing his guitar when not practicing and while practicing, giving us valuable input, that has been a really good experience for us."
From Brett Lee, the topic immediately shifts to another Australian, Adam Gilchrist, who he describes as his role model. Press him further and he reveals what the Australian keeper taught him.
"I chose Adam Gilchrist because of his aggression towards the game and because of the noises that he makes behind the wicket. He makes everyone be in the game and that's what matters, to play as a team and win as a team. That's what he taught me."
Before adding that, "we don't choose our inspirations, our inspirations choose us."
In everyone's life, there are many who inspire us to do what we've always wanted to do. There are some who showcase incredible resilience in their ability to navigate through the stormy seas and the story of Nilesh is one such that reminds us that inspiration is all around us. All we need to do is have the courage to look for it.