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Home / Cricket / Dear Me: Make yourself hard to ignore and your time will come - Mohammad Kaif

Dear Me: Make yourself hard to ignore and your time will come - Mohammad Kaif

Mohammad Kaif tells his 12-year old self to be patient and work hard, for his time in the limelight will come.

cricket Updated: Aug 04, 2017, 14:14 IST
Mohammad Kaif
Mohammad Kaif
Mohammad Kaif was a key member of the Indian cricket team in the 2003 World Cup.
Mohammad Kaif was a key member of the Indian cricket team in the 2003 World Cup. (Illustration: Sudhir Shetty)

Dear 12-year-old Kaif,

Hundreds of miles away from home, I know you are lonely and homesick. The only way to stay in touch with family is to either wait in painfully long queues at the STD booth or write letters and wait even longer for a reply.

But how could you have said no? After all, being selected by the Kanpur Sports Hostel is no small feat. For, this is the factory that has produced many cricketers who went on to play for Uttar Pradesh in Ranji Trophy. And they wanted you.

Having made it here you should be spending each night dreaming of playing for the state and then, India. Instead, you will cry yourself to sleep. You will also be disillusioned because despite having been at the hostel for over two years, you will think you’ve barely made progress. Those who don’t seem very good to you will get more opportunities. They will bat longer in the nets while you perform ball boy duties. They will practice their drives. You will roll and water the pitch.

Practising at Green Park, an international stadium, was a dream. But now it will feel like a nightmare. You’re a shy kid and that will go against you. Senior cricketers at the hostel will think you are snooty.

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You will try calling your father for advice. He’s played in the Ranji Trophy for Uttar Pradesh. But he will refuse to intervene and only tell you to be patient. You will ask your brother Mohammad Saif, who has played with these seniors, for help. But he won’t be able to.

Life will seem tough. But trust me, it will get better. And it will happen because you chose to make it so.

Take control of your life. 100 per cent will not cut it here. Try 150%. When the coach at the hostel asks you to run five kilometres, run six. If he asks you to train for 40 minutes, train for 60! Make yourself hard to ignore. Your time will come.

You will have trouble believing it but soon you will be picked for the U-15 World Cup. India schools will beat their counterparts from Pakistan in the final at Lord’s in 1996. You will perform well, but it won’t be noticed in the hostel. But don’t lose heart.

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One day, your hostel’s team will find itself a player short at a tournament. And you will get picked! That will be your turning point. You will make an unbeaten 51 and take some unbelievable catches. And like magic, things will change for good.

You will make it to the Uttar Pradesh under-16 team. The rest, as they say, will be history.

Now, you will understand the importance of those trying days at the hostel. They were preparing you for bigger battles where mental toughness matters. Your hours of toil will also pay off as your athleticism will set a new benchmark for fielding standards in India.

The under-19 World Cup glory will be around the corner and you will be India captain. From that team many will play for India but only you and Yuvraj Singh will make a mark globally.

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That will be at the 2002 NatWest Trophy final against England. Set 326 to win, you will suddenly find the hopes of a nation resting on Yuvraj and you.

You should be overwhelmed. You’re just 21 and Yuvi’s 20. But you two are made of sterner stuff.

When you scamper for that final run, it will be the first time India successfully chased 325 in ODIs. Each of your 87 unbeaten runs will be worth their weight in gold.

So, remember everything happens for a reason.

Loads of love,

Mohammad Kaif

(As told to Harit Joshi)

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