Introduction: The Opener
Every day practice in the morning, rush to gymkhana with freezing feet. Sometimes entering into mosque for early prayers. Sometimes in hurry, rushing to reach ground as the Bakasura sleep is broken. Jameel Ahmad finds himself still in the bed.
Well, all this narration and chase is for one love of this young man to which he calls as “BatBall ka khel… wo bhi leather ka.”
“I don’t know what Wadkar sir has seen in me. Everyday after one and half hours of warm-ups and number of rounds. He gives me only to pad-on first, for batting. We never had closed nets like coaching academies in cities have. We were having open nets where thirty forty future cricketers would take lessons for the game. Also, we were fortunate enough to get all these facilities free of cost. A big thanks to my district association and the local cricket lovers for the funding. The love and faith they poured in us. There only dream which we can see in their eyes that some one or other will make our motherland proud by playing the game in its best way.” recalls Jameel Ahamad.
“Now, the transition was so gradual that, my name changed from ‘Jameel’ to ‘Opener’. My father was a proud person as he too had received this news. He was happy as his son was loving the game. I use to do knocking of ball for hours hanging from the tree branch near my house, with using single stump as my bat and trying my strokes. this helped me to correct my timing and get to know through which part I was hitting the ball.” “Have broken window glass couple of times and I only refitted it with my pocket money. I still remember buying a square quarter glass piece of 35 cm X 35 cm X 5 mm for 25 rupees. This was after third time I had broken the window glass and mom said this time you will pay for it (laughs). ”
“We were not so rich, but my mom dad could afford it and they can spend some thing from their savings.” It was a proud feeling and he said, “I felt thankful to almighty as very few are fortunate to have even that.”
“Sounds good isn’t it?”. When Jameel questions this, a spark is seen in his eyes. Deep inside, was excited too.
“I can defend variety of delivery types but scoring good runs was still a dream. That too my first run in every match. Whenever I scored my first run I was confident I can convert it to big. That first run scoring was like feeling of having made a century for me.” Jameel says.
“Practice sessions used to be fantastic. I had played many sessions without getting out even a single time. That was only showing my class for defense and learning art of leaving deliveries untouched.” He takes a pause and again gets lost in his dreams, his old sweet dreams which we can feel from his face.
“But during matches, the game turns different, rules go different, deliveries are limited. This is like, only one lifeline for doing everything. So, only defense do not help as scoring runs, setting up or chasing target, here building partnerships is needed. This is all possible if, I score my first run.”
“Scorers had filled ‘n’ number of matches scorecard book with Master Jameel at top but failed to popped out of his Golden Duck. As might have fallen in trap of LBW, caught at ‘n’ number of places may be at Stands or slips or short leg or mid-on, mid-off , etc, etc every standard corner or at any new field position seems just created for him to get out.” he says.
“And if got skipped, then definitely during runs, pitch would be always short for me. All this would be gifted from one or the other best pals, who would have become my foes during game time only.” (Ha ha ha) he laughs, “but they are my life and my best friends till now.”
“That’s the spirit of competitive cricket, isn’t it? True religion at least in my INDIA. Where we all cricket lovers try our best, to be the best in practicing our religion (cricket) to our best.” he says. “Nothing wrong in it, at the end it was only game. That do not affects our friendship with my buddies. They are my life.”
Usually, this feeling short of ground was mainly due to previous innings score cards of Jameel which use to burden him. All efforts to score big slowly slowly started lowered to at least break this ‘ZERO’ jinx.
“I was not happy with my own efforts and not able to score handsomely. Stuck in repetitive mistakes. Finally, I decided to sit and find the solution.” says the courageous lad.
“I recalled every thing, literally everything, may be it my stance, may be it shot selection, field placed, my head position, leg movements, eye hand co-ordination and any anything. Even thought, how Rahul Dravid, Sachin, Sehwag, Ganguly, Jacque Kalis, Chris Gayle, Miandad, Thorpe and Kevin Peterson might have played for their first run?” again laughs all around.
“Literally, I thought about what ever I have learnt, seen, etc etc. I recalled everything and when I finished it was like WOW. I had figured out something” says Jameel.
to THINK before ACT…
“And Finally made a plan was ready and was time to score first run of every inning. Thus, superseding my fear of getting out to Golden Duck” A big bear smile could be seen when he says that. It seems it worked for him.
“Luckily, season was about to end as selections for team were near. The criteria set was one single agenda the player who performs will find his place in team. And in that season, I not only secured my place but kept my performance high for next three years in a row. Also, I was highest run maker for two consecutive years.” he adds
“Believe me or not through this whole process, I learnt one important lesson that mental strength is the supremo. And engraved in my head and heart ‘to THINK before ACT’.”, says Jameel Ahamad
Well well well, this is not the end, it is a journey which is just now started.