Whenever I look at the Gautam Gambhir in the mirror it seems tennis star Andre Agassi is reading out passages from his autobiography, Open. Agassi says he “hated tennis with dark and secret passion”. This is after tennis gave him identity, fortune, silverware, a few wanted and unwanted perks that a successful, young man is prone to get, later on a beautiful wife and most importantly adrenaline of being in a competition. But the fact is he hated his sport. You’d say either Agassi teamed up with the publishers to sell his book, or he’s just being cynical. Sorry, neither.
Unlike Agassi, I love my sport. I can watch any game of cricket on TV. Even if the repeat telecast is for the 600th time, I’d be glued with excitement of a woman watching serials on conniving ladies. I might bat like a novice in the middle but I just love batting and its romance. I have enjoyed when a gorgeous cricket ball declines the advances of my well-manicured cricket bat. But loaded with perseverance of a sincere lover my bat wins. It then starts to caress, cuddle and later even lovingly thump its once shining lady.
But the real challenge lies beyond these dreamy passages. You wake up on a match day and you are in company of fear of failure. You turn on the shower and instead of water you have expectations beating on your body. You dress up but in reality you are wearing the image of a celebrity that the outside world wants to see you as – a champion or a loser.
Once after a game against Portugal, English fans yelled at David Beckham, “Your wife is a whore and we hope your kids die of cancer.” You fear that.
I am longing for the day when I’d look at the Gautam Gambhir in the mirror and another Andre will be reading out passages from his book — my KKR teammate from West Indies Andre Russell. Even in the past he has been our Superman. On most occasions he’s dancing, grooving, laughing and when he gets bored he does all of these all over again. He secretly admits that he wants to dress up like a Jamaican but can’t do it as he’d stand out among “sober Indians”.
Amid all this, he is still a bloody good cricketer. There is a method to his power-hitting. Just recall his use of the depth of the crease while hitting those sixes against Chennai Super Kings. He does 100 meters under 11 seconds which I think anyone having a Jamaican passport does. I told him that his Mohawk hairstyle needs a bit of a mojo as it has flattened out. He just gives me a hearty Jamaican laugh as if to say, “No mojo skippermaan, my hair needs Viagra!” Don’t be surprised if Andre actually tells me this one day.