Remaining calm and blank: The Samarth way
The making of a dream would essentially include waking up from sleep as its first step. Mind you, there is a difference between dreaming the dream and making it. You could dream of anything, you're allowed to dream anything, but it is the making of it that's restrictive, and, to be put mildly, subjective to conditions.
I remember waking up at 5 in the morning to watch India play Tests in Australia. I also remember how, after the stumps were drawn, I carried my Kashmir willow to the porch, smacked a few gallons of air, and waved the bat to all of the two spectators who bore witness -- an empty flower vase and my father's Maruti 800 that I so nearly dented on occasions.
That was dreaming - the dreaming part of the dreaming. The shoddy sunlight, filtering through the fog and the volumes of concrete that surrounded my crease, the pitch, and the ground -- all of which were limited to one square metre of tiled flooring -- gave me my limelight.
I was happily dreaming, and I was happily sleeping. I did not intend to wake up. The vase and the car never complained, they never asked me to go a step further. I was their hero and they were my fans -- the most loyal ones.
A few thousand kilometers to my south, another kid bore the same dream. He got up at 5 to watch Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid bat and now recollects the 2nd Test at the Adelaide Oval of India's 2003-04 tour as one of his fondest memories.
"Sachin and Dravid were the cricketers that I looked up to. I started looking at them and started playing cricket. I used to get up to watch India’s batting early morning at 5 AM when there were matches in Australia.
"I distinctly remember the Adelaide Test when Rahul Dravid got that double hundred and the fifty in the same Test, and we won that game. That memory stands out for me."
14 years to that tour, ignoring minor disturbances over call, two 24-year-olds unite for a brief moment, and share perhaps the only thing that bonds them together.
On one side of the line, this writer thinks how making the dream could take time but time is what you need to give, as he plays second-fiddle to the boy who could have been, had he not slept in the sunlight, and on the other side, the boy who woke up after the sun rose, prepared himself to play under Dravid.
"I have met him (Dravid) more than a couple of times actually. We have had a few interactions as well. The first time I met him was during my U-19 days and the second one was after I scored six consecutive hundreds in the Safi Darashah tournament."
Ravikumar Samarth, picked to play alongside his childhood friend Karun Nair for India 'A,' says this -- speaking exclusively to Sportskeeda -- with the same amount of nonchalance that I used to exhibit while posing, after having made fantasies out of hundreds in my porch, as opposed to hundreds out of fantasies that the man has converted.
He slips and says he'd scored seven hundreds but quickly corrects it back to six. I could have forgiven him for that, for it's tough to remember success if there are no failures in between.
For the uninitiated, the Safi Darashah tournament is an Under-22 intra-state tournament organized by the KSCA. That's all that needs to be said of the tournament at this juncture as that is all it took for Samarth to be picked and drafted into the Karnataka Ranji side.
This was in 2013, and since then, the opening batsman has opened with KL Rahul -- who's ready to make a comeback of his own -- and has batted with Nair, as he had been doing since the age of 13.
"Karun and I have been playing together since our Under-13 days, and so we have a really good understanding. We’re really good friends and it is a great thing that he is my first captain at the senior level," Samarth says, having certainly fulfilled one of his friendship goals.
There were Sachin and Kambli, there are the Pandya brothers now, and 'dreams permitting,' we would see the Nair-Samarth duo playing for India 'A.'
You could also go a stretch further and dream of removing the 'A' tag -- of which Nair has already had a taste. Samarth, though, isn't looking that far.
"I have really set goals as such. (for the senior men's team) I just enjoy my cricket, and I think that is the ultimate thing to do. If you start enjoying cricket, success will follow. I believe that the harder you work, the better you get, and success definitely follows hard work."
The pensiveness and the calm demeanour are soon followed by raw ambition and the knowledge of the fact that the path up there isn't easy. Who better than Nair to look up to for this realization?
"For every cricketer, to be honest, the ultimate dream would be to earn and wear the Indian cap. For any person, that would be the most motivating thing. You’re playing this game to get that Test cap, the ‘India cap’ and to wear that cap is going to be a proud moment.
"It is not going to be a joke and it is not going to be an easy task to get there. Of course, it is going to be difficult. I am one step closer now and I really feel proud to be here," he utters simplistically; no apprehensions, no big words, just the matter-of-factly way of stating things as they are.
It moves me when Samarth declares his intent behind wearing the India cap -- the 'Test cap.' No mention of the World Cup, no mention of the IPL, just the elusive dream of the India cap.
I don't rest, though, and dig further. I engage and try to find out what is it that makes a 24-year-old crave for the whites. Why does he not talk about the IPL? Why does he not talk about maximums and tracer bullets?
As it turns out, and as he so subtly states, all of these have been on his mind; he just prefers being 'blank' about stuff until it happens to him.
"(IPL) If it is going to happen it will happen, I have not really been a part of any IPL so far, so I haven’t thought about it. I don’t know how the experience would be, so I can’t really say anything about that.
"I don’t believe I am a one format player, and I believe I can easily cope up with things in the T20 format or the one-day format. My batting isn’t constrained to one format," a man of few words, perhaps, as I made him out to be from our first conversation, states.
Here was a man not looking too much into the future, not even as far as the conditions in South Africa, let alone the IPL. Constant dreaming, perhaps, had made him capable of differentiating between what should be dreamt and pursued and what should be dreamt but left as it is.
"I really don’t know how (the conditions) in South Africa are going to be, I would only get to know once I get there. I don’t want to comment on such things because I don’t believe in thinking about those aspects. As I’ve told you, it is game by game, ball by ball, and it is about enjoying the game, not thinking about so many things in your head.
"It is about remaining calm and being ‘blank’ as much as possible."
Being blank was the key -- astute blankness, no burden of the past, no weight burgeoning on the shoulders and no plans to execute. I thought for a moment as to how could one be so clear-headed and so ambitious at the same time.
A moment's thought answers my question. It was the other guy who knew how to make a dream after having dreamt of it.