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Pravin Tambe: A heartwarming tale of dedication and determination

Pravin Tambe's fairytale career is a story which will inspire people to never give up.

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Pravin Tambe

Maeve Greyson once said “No one has the power to shatter your dreams unless you give it to them.”

For all the glitz, glamour, fame and money involved in cricket, at its basest level, the sports still remains the same after all these years. It is a place where dreams come true. A place where people who are otherwise ostracized or forgotten, make a name for themselves. Even in the modern world, cricket still is a fairytale to many.

In India at least, a place where cricket is considered as a religion, it is a fairytale for those dreaming of one day gracing an actual cricket pitch, making it as a professional cricketer. Ask any kid growing up on the streets of Mumbai or Chennai or Kolkata about what they want to be when they grow up and the answer will be unanimous, to be a cricketer. To play the sport their idols ruled and to one day put on an Indian jersey and walk onto the pitch whilst a billion hearts root for them.

While it is the dream of every young boy while growing up, very few make it as a cricketer. Fewer still make it is as a professional. Such is the harsh reality of life that if one doesn’t become a professional cricketer in their 20s it is hard to see them ever making it at all. Which is why, the tale of Pravin Tambe is all the more special.

Born and brought up in Mumbai, Tambe is an inspiration to every young kid growing up and has shown the benefits of never giving up on your dream. Something most kids are guilty of doing far too early. Last year, when he was picked by the Rajasthan Royals to play in the 2013 edition of the IPL, Tambe hadn’t even played a single first-class game. But it was a just reward for a lifetime spent in the nets, putting his blood, sweat and tears into the game that he loves.

The tale of Pravin Tambe is a heart-warming tale that might seem improbable even in an Indian movie. After all, this is a guy, who was in his early 40s and hadn’t even managed to make it as a professional cricketer. To make ends meet, he had to get a day job whilst he spent his younger years as a club cricketer in Mumbai. And his closest brush with professional cricket was when he was named in the probables of the Mumbai Ranji squad in 2000, almost 13 years before he got his big break with the Royals.

Whilst many of us sit and let our dreams slip away, here is a guy, who never stopped dreaming of playing professional cricket and competing with the best in the business. For over two decades, Tambe had spent life in the wilderness, playing club cricket and even “amateur” cricket in the English league. During the early seasons of the IPL, Tambe even worked as a liaison officer whenever matches were played at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai. Yet, he never gave up on his dream of one day making it onto the pitch as a professional cricketer.

And that dream came true when he made his T20 debut for the Rajasthan Royals against Delhi Daredevils last year. But, he only truly emerged into the limelight after last year’s Champions League T20, when he finished as the tournament’s leading wicket-taker. His 12 wickets in five games at an average of 6.50, was better than experienced spinners like Sunil Narine and Ravichandran Ashwin.

Whilst many were surprised by the leg spinner’s ability to bamboozle the batsman, former India seamer and current chairman of the BCCI junior national selection committee, Abey Kuruvilla wasn’t. Having followed the leg spinner for 15 years, Kuruvilla knew that this day would always come.

“I know him from the days of Orient Shipping; he’s now with DY Patil Sports Academy. He’s a very hard working cricketer, bowls to his strength and with confidence. He’s not at all affected by fear of failure,’’ said Kuruvilla.

And it is that hard working nature and never-say-die attitude that led to the long-awaited Mumbai Ranji call-up during the 2013/14 season. His performances in the Champions League T20 last year, showed what his coaches have witnessed all these years. Tambe has certainly shown that persistence and belief in your abilities and your dreams always pays.

Just by making it as a professional cricketer, at the age of 41, Tambe has become an inspiration for every kid who, one day, dreams of becoming a cricketer. Thereby proving the old adage that age is just a number very true indeed. Whilst many would have been content just to make it, Tambe has done everything he possibly can, to repay Rajasthan Royals’ faith in him.

His hat-trick against Kolkata Knight Riders on Monday was a testament to both his talent and his temperament. So far this season, Tambe has continued from where he left and is already amongst the leading wicket-takers in the tournament. Whether he wins the Purple Cap or not, he has already won the hearts of every cricket fan who is watching this IPL.

A wise man once said, “The rewards of tomorrow are safely hidden in the belief of never quitting and not giving up on yourself today”. Pravin Tambe is a living, breathing example of just that.

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