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Bleak times: Forced indoors by rain, gloom

The rain has given me time to realise something. Cricket won?t last forever, nor will the money, but all this toughens you up, writes Aakash Chopra.

india Updated: May 30, 2006 13:46 IST

 

It's raining in England and we haven’t played a proper game in two weeks. I can hear the hail- stones ringing against skylight as I write this piece. We probably won’t play this weekend too.

This break has made me pause and ponder the life of an over- seas professional cricketer in the UK. Every professional lives for his work — it keeps him busy and takes him through the day, week after week. So what hap- pens when that work is taken away from him? Life becomes rather empty, and each day a drag. With the rain never going away, that’s precisely what’s happening here across this country.

Musing, I wonder if it is for money that one comes here, or is there more to it? Playing in the English league doesn’t make a major difference to your game per se. You earn decent money, but if you’ve played for the country, you can earn enough back home too. So, in my case at least, money wasn’t the major incentive.

Then what brought me to this country for the third year in a row, I ask myself — and the an- swer comes back quickly: Com- ing here has made me grow as a person. It has helped me see life from a different perspective, meet new people, make new friends.

You need to cook your own meals and many people often end up with soup and bread for din- ner, not because you can’t afford food but because it’s too much of a pain to cook just for yourself everyday. Walking into an empty house day after day can be quite depressing too. There’s no one to share your sorrows and joys, things don’t change whether you score a century or a duck — you still walk back to an empty house and still have to cook the food.

Even your new-found friends work during the week and as the games are played over the week ends, each Monday stretches ahead bleakly. With the rain, there’s nothing to look forward to over even the weekend. And to make matters worse, if you’re go ing through a serious personal crisis (and this could happen to anyone, not just cricketers), you’re without a support system.

In India, family and friends are just round the corner but things are different here. It’s not possible to pick up the phone and call India every time you feel low. Not only is it expen sive, but you also can’t lend your trou bles to peo ple sitting thousands of miles away, who can’t do anything except worry.

The other day, someone persistently rang my doorbell at three in the morning. All I could see from the window of my third-floor flat was a man lying on the ground in front of the house. I panicked a bit, then collected my wits and called 999 (emergency). Luckily, it wasn’t serious — the guy living on the first floor had accidentally locked himself out and was just completely drunk.

This was just one (ultimately funny) incident, but a lot many things happen which aren’t exactly funny, and when you’re alone, everything gets magnified. But you learn to cope and everything is a lesson for you — the experience makes you a better, more rounded person.

The rain has given me time to realise something. Cricket won’t last forever, nor will the money, but all this toughens you up. There’s much more to being an overseas cricketer than just turning up on a Saturday to earn your living. You live, you learn, you grow.


This is the third year running that the writer would be writing for HT about life in England over the cricketing summer. He can be reached on googly1909@yahoo.com

First Published: May 30, 2006 13:46 IST