Interview: Straight talk with Ravichandran Ashwin
Childhood days can seldom be forgotten. Every adult would want to be a child once again. Those were the days of undiluted fun, a carefree life without any worries. I for one keep reminding my children, have fun for these days will never ever come back to you.
However what you can actually do is to sit back one day and recall those wonderful memories, with all your childhood friends right behind you.
This is exactly what I decided to do - and prodded none other than Ravichandran Ashwin about his childhood memories. There were two things that were happening simultaneously, one of Ashwin going back on flash back mode and recalling his own childhood days. On the other side, seated right beside him was a dreamer-TallBoyKarthik, who had all the way from way back in 2010 had dreamt of meeting up with Ash some day.
So that day had finally arrived. This interview is all about Ashwin recalling with a great amount of fondness, mirth and humour, and his childhood days.
Ashwin, let's begin this conversation with you recalling your childhood days and how you developed a love for the game of Cricket:
Ashwin: Appa was a great Cricket fanatic . Coming from a traditional South Indian family those days, it was but natural that my grandfather did not encourage my father to take up the sport seriously. As a child I would go to watch Appa play and he was a good medium pace bowler. For the first four or five years of my childhood, I did not quite like the game and found it to be quite monotonous. But slowly I started developing a love for the game. I would love to play on our house terrace and on the road outside my home. Appa would throw the ball and I would hit the ball with my bat. Come Match time both of us would remain glued to the Television. I would always remain stuck to my father and people would often call me his Kangaroo.
My mother was always encouraging of my urge to take up the game more seriously. While my grandfather was worried about the glasses breaking, the garden getting spoilt, or the terrace walls getting damaged, it was my mother who insisted that I joined a Cricket Coaching Institute. It was then that I joined the TSR Cricket Academy at YMCA. I remember very clearly that both my parents would come to drop me at the academy and pick me up again once the practice would get over. So that's how the journey started.
Ravichandran sir (Ashwin's father) told me once that none of the walls at home would be spared. All of them would bear an artistic impression of your hitting the balls against the wall.
Ashwin: I was a single child. I was a loner and have loved it that way, even now that I am married I like to spend time on my own. I was mad about Cricket and so I would throw the ball at the walls and hit it with my bat. I would also give a commentary of the actual happenings. I would imagine myself being a part of the Indian team, and then being involved in making India win. I liked being an underdog at that age.
When I was a child India would often lose, hardly win matches. That is also the reason why I dont quite like it when people point fingers at the current Indian team. We actually win more matches than we lose. The only heartbeat for the entire nation at that point of time was Sachin Tendulkar. I would watch Sachin play with butterflies in my stomach, praying that he should not get out.
On weekends when both my parents would be at home, I would once again be lapped into the world of imagination, hitting the ball against the wall and striking it with my bat. In my world of fantasy I would imagine India at 200 for 8 and then take them through to 500 for 8, scoring a masterful century along with a running commentary of the proceedings. My father would call me mad but that's how I developed a passion for the game.
We used to have rope balls at home(These are actual cricket balls hung from ceiling and then you strike them with your bat just to get the sense of timing right). The other day when a child got hurt above his eyebrow I got reminded of an incident from my own childhood days. I was a twelve year old boy at that point.
There was a league match that I was to play on that day, and before the match I was practicing a few shots using the rope ball. I recall that those days there was no limit that barred children of that age from playing league cricket. I am of the opinion that nine and ten year olds should be allowed to play the local league. It is affecting the physical tenacity of the kids. Anyways, back to the rope ball game that I was practicing.
There used to be a blue colour Godrej Fridge in one corner of the room, which was severely dented on account of my constant hammering. I played what I thought was a rousing pull shot, and bang the ball went and hit my father on the forehead.
He was bleeding quite badly and I was inconsolable. We went to the Public Health Center, just across the road from my house, stitches done, both of us were off to the ground, my father to drop me and myself to play the match. I remember scoring a fifty in that match. My tenacity comes from my mother, my truthfulness, honesty and straightforwardness comes from my father.
Show the child the way, encourage him, provide for the best possible guidance, be his friend and support system and then watch him flower. When a child takes up a sport like cricket, take him to those training sessions and be with him, watch him play and derive happiness from just seeing him play the game.
Moments to cherish, sitting next to a legend, hearing him recall his childhood memories.