From playing with a tiny little bat when he was just 3 to representing his school cricket team, our son has come a long way. Here’s the story of how he’s grown to love the sport and why it’s just the beginning…
It was Manoveer’s third birthday when we bought him his first cricket bat. Over the next couple of weeks he spent hours trying to connect the ball to his tiny little bat. Being a cricketer myself, I was overwhelmed to see the contact he was making; this 3 year old boy was producing the right sounds with the bat hitting the ball.
His interests continued to peak in outdoor sports, be it swimming, cycling and even athletics; we let his interests in sport bloom without pushing him towards one particular sport.
First real decision
We moved Manoveer from a pure academic-focused environment to a school that was relatively relaxed and open in it’s approach to education. We wanted him to pick any sport he wishes to pursue without the impending pressure on academics. We chose Vidya Shilp Academy and the results were fairly immediate; he was spending long hours playing cricket in school, some soccer, a lot of swimming and even started training for athletics. But very soon, he would need to pick one sport and pursue it thoroughly.
The choice was made, not by us but by Manoveer himself.
He was merely in the second grade that we were called in one Saturday morning. We were taken aback to see that every coach (specialising in different sports) wanted Manoveer to be part of their training. Much to their disappointment, who thought he would excel in their respective sports; we had to take a decision and have him singularly focus on cricket. The choice was made, not by us but by Manoveer himself.
When he was about 6, I started spending hours on the weekend on a concrete tiled area in front of our home, bowling over hundreds of hardened cricket balls at him. He did take a few blows on his body, much to the agony and shock of his mother who kept watching from the balcony that his father was being rather ruthless at this tender age, hitting him with cricket balls! My idea was to get the fear of the cricket ball out of his mind, which finally happened.
The annual sports day was close by and he was selected in 3 races to represent his house; the night before the sports day I asked him “How many medals tomorrow, and how many golds?” “Two golds, one silver”, he replied. I asked “Why one silver?” to which he casually replied “Two races I am running alone so I will win easily, but the third one I have little control since it’s a 4 × 100 relay”. He was the starter of the race and had no control how his other mates would finish the race. “Why don’t you create such a start that it becomes easy for the rest to finish and win” I suggested. And that’s exactly what he did and he won three gold medals that afternoon. The same evening, his gift from his father was a Sachin Tendulkar autographed Adidas cricket bat .
Two years later, while driving back home after celebrating his 8th birthday at the Embassy Riding School, we noticed a large board for a cricket academy being put up very close to our home. We pulled over and went inside to see what it was and were blown away to see the quality of the infrastructure. All this, right next to where we live – it was truly God sent. We enrolled him the same afternoon; he must have been one of the first few joinees of the academy. It’s been over three years now and Manoveer is nurtured into a competent cricketer under the guidance of his coaches who spend about 12 hours a week training him on the nuances of the game.
He has represented his school’s Under-12 team for 3 years now; starting at 8, he was the youngest cricketer across the Inter-school Tournament. He has been winning the Man of the Tournament awards at the Inter-school level and is also the youngest player to be called for the Under-14 State selections earlier this year.
Manoveer’s typical day starts at 6 am when he starts his physical training in the gym under the watchful eyes of his coach. He’s back right in time to have his breakfast, shower and rush to catch his school bus. Three days a week he is allowed early from his school; his mother picks him up and takes him for his evening one-to-one coaching at the academy.
Being a cricketer myself, I know that this game keeps you fit and disciplined; teaches you to collaborate, concentrate, set goals and above all be a good human being by playing to the spirit of the game. All these values are important not only to play this sport but in his future life too. But as any parent, we too are dreaming big for our boy that one day he plays for his country and even though the journey seems very tough, we are encouraging him to maintain and focus his energies in one direction.
Last winter, he scored his first century in a school game and later the same week he captained his academy team to win a local tournament with he being adjudged the best batsman. I can see clearly that the love for the game has set in and he’s working hard to perform better.
While we hope he continues to remain focused, it’s equally important that we don’t over do it and keep the balance between his studies and other interests. While his cricketing passion continues to grow, one never knows what life has in store. But one thing is for sure, you will continue to hear about this boy in his domain of focus as his love for the sport has just begun.