Sunday, December 05, 2004

Recovered drive

I have never tasted any sporting success. At least, not before. When I was at school, I wasn't blessed with height and power. I was sprightly as a kid and largely confused that with being athletic. I never won a single medal in any track event at school or college. In fact, the only race that I finished first was slow racing (the aim is to not fall of your cycle and be the last to cross a certain distance). I had taken some coaching in cricket but my school never had a proper team, so I never got into playing cricket anywhere besides my building. I also learnt tennis for three years, but the racket was about half my size. The only tournament I ended up playing in saw me win the first match 6-0 (they decided who wins based on a set) and losing the second round 9-7. For all the great things my school had, what was missing terribly was the push for participating in intra-school sporting events. Junior college and engineering college had the same story. Over the years, I have realised that my belief that I was athletic wasn't entirely misplaced. I have picked up table tennis, badminton etc. very quickly and play them with a great degree of comfort now. But I never entered any tournaments, and didn't have a sport story to feel good about.

After a few months in Seattle, I joined a cricket team to participate in the oh-so-large-and-competitive cricket league. At that time, the team was fully staffed with quality players, so I had to wait to get my turn. The first time I got a match, I picked up three wickets for next to nothing when all the other bowlers got mauled. Susbsequently, in that league, we made it to the quarter-finals. I got promoted up the order and played a really good innings to make a respectable total. Unfortunately, we lost the match. The next season was better and I compiled quite a few good innings at the top of the order. We made it to the semis, but unfortunately, I had some out of station visitors whom I had to take around. I missed the match, and never got picked for the finals, which we lost. The league after that, I played a match and then twisted my ankle badly in practice which kept me out for the rest of the season.

Before I continue the story, I should indeed explain how the league works here. We play with hard tennis balls (imported from India), 8 players a side, 16 overs an innings on different grounds here. Some are astro-turf used for soccer while others are school grounds with a very uneven pitch and terrible outfields. 65-80 is considered a good score, and anything in excess of 15 is a good score from a batsman. I missed the first two games of the league which my team lost. After that, me and a couple of other players joined in and the results were immediate. We won all 4 league matches after that on a trot. In the fourth of its kind match, I made 21 not out which was my highest score in the league thus far (and got me picked as a man of the match). While it doesn't seem like a lot of runs, one should realise that the conditions are not conducive to run-scoring with the type of the ball and the outfield. After winning the quarter-finals last week, we had our semi-finals today. Here's how the story went

The match was supposed to start at 9 am this morning. When we reached the ground, we were treated with (you will never guess) ... SNOW. Yes, it was snowing, with the temperature around 30 deg F (or 0 deg celcius). It was chilling cold even with a couple of layers of clothing and the wicket-keeping gloves that I was wearing. We were asked to bowl first and trust me, most players were hoping that the ball would not come to them because they'd have to take their hands out of their pockets. The opposing team were scoring freely having lost just one wicket till the half way mark. At that time, I decided to have a bowl (vice-captaining gives some privileges) . I am not a regular bowler, but do turn my hand over with some slow-paced bowling. Today must have been my day ... I got three wickets, including their two most dangerous batsmen ... all bowled. Figures at the end of the innings: 3/15 in 4 overs. We were set a target of 64 in 16 overs.

The one thing I have been concentrating on doing is to keep my wickets intact. In all the previous leagues that I played, I would invariably run myself out not having figured out any other way of giving my wicket away. This league too, I have scored close to 90 runs in 6 innings with two dismissals. This innings though, turned out to be quiet special. I ended up staying right till the end, hitting the winning runs in the 15th over .... and scored 30 not out. We lost a couple of wickets on the way, but a good opening partnership and consistent scoring ensured that we got there in comfort. In the process, I also hit two boundaries on the leg. It turned out to be my best score in the league, in a do or die match, and coupled with my bowling figures, a man of the match award. Winning this match was crucial to us making it to the 'B' league, irrespective of what happens in the finals

Man of the match in a semi-final of the league C of the American Recreational Cricket League in Seattle wouldn't mean anything to almost all but 12-14 souls in this cosmos. One could also argue that this award would not mean much if we lost the finals. But hey, its a success alright. It isn't the World Cup, but shining on a big stage in this tournament after three attempts gone awry means a lot to me. I know this is a self-congratulatory post, but hey, every blog has its way :-) Everyone on the team is looking forward to an enthralling finale with a very tough team (they are yet to be defeated in 8 matches). Reminds you of India vs Aus? We hope to change the script. Wish me luck

P.S> Since I felt that this called for some special kind of celebration, I corked open a bottle of my all-time favorite cola, the one that I don't consume much nowadays, but is always available for a $1.25 in the Indian stores, the baap of all colas: Thumbs Up! (Yup, taste the thunder)


phucker said...

Hey Parth,
your achivement is not small at all - at least to me. I'm sure there are some sports that haven't been invented yet which I stink at! $1.25 for a Thums Up????!?!?! (a litre is about 40 rupees I think...) That's it, I'm quitting my job. Now I know exactly what my next business is going to be...
Keep up the good work, and who knows maybe they may even pick you to play for team USA in 2007. ;-)

RTD2 said...

Awesome job Parth! Very nice commentary, felt like I was there willing the other team on ;)
And can u be so cruel? U don't know Parth, but I bet u anything, your comment is making him dream already!

RTD2 said...

And hey, I forgot, but this title is amazing too! Keep bowling us over man!

Akruti said...

Congratulations Parth,did a good job,and goodluck for u r next match:)

Avinash said...

Good job man. And keep ur hopes high. U just might make it to the US team. All but 3 of the players are US born and even then one of the 3 is a Patel :-)

Stone said...

Nice commentary dude,
Me too have played my entire cricket as wicketkeeper-opening batsman.

Parth said...

Ok, just found out that we are not playing Australia next week. Someone upset them in the semi-finals. Not sure if we are the underdogs anymore. The final is on Sunday at 10 am and I hope to end up on the winning side, and want to contribute to the victory. I also hope that there is a hint of sunshine while rain and snow decide to stay away.

Sachin said...

Now tha u know ur not going to play Aussies, I am more than happy not only for u but for me too, as the hope of me being treated in ur upcoming visit has increased.
Neways, all the best for the finals. Looking forward to knowing the results.