GOOD WORD:Only Dead Fish Swim With The Stream
On Mar 29, 2011
Men come of age in different ways—some win wars, some win tournaments, and some others by winning hearts.
When Roy Emerson first won the Wimbledon in 1964, a wire intro said that the 21-year-old son of a rancher had attained maturity.
When Sachin Tendulkar scored his first Test hundred, against the English, and saved India from defeat, we all said the lad had come of age.
When Rafael Nadal won the Wimbledon after rolling his way to glory in the historic Roland Garros clay and mud, the stringy-haired Mallorcan too attained maturity.
Talent is a huge responsibility. It is a two-edged sword—it will either help you conquer, or kill yourself.
Nothing makes one sadder than seeing talent go unfulfilled. The destiny of Vinod Kambli, Andrea Jaeger (now a Dominican nun) or L Sivaramakrishnan makes one glum. So much was written about Ambati Rayidu and Imran Nazir. Both young men did not end up where their talent should have taken them to.
Talent is like giving a million dollars to the wanderlust. He could burn all that away in a jiffy on trips, drinks and brawls.
Not that the bohemian is as useless and repulsive as used condoms, but surely the guy who toils hard warms the cockles of your heart.
Nothing more endearing than watching someone transform from a reckless bohemian into a responsible chap who takes care of the groceries for home.
Taking up responsibilities and fulfilling one’s talent are signs of a man’s maturity. Signs of him coming of age.
Like Emerson, Tendulkar and Nadal did.
That’s why watching Yuvraj Singh bat in this World Cup has been gratifying. He has always been the bohemian, a southpaw with a heady mix of arrogance and elegance—a rare breed of class and crass.
He has thrilled us with his raw talent—with his batsmanship that elevates us from boredom to bliss in a matter of a few strokes. He can leave the entire stadium spellbound with a flurry of shots that border on the surreal like Dali’s masterpieces—floating, hanging and suspended.
He can make the bowlers look like zoozoos—comic, idiotic apparitions of no significance.
Yet, he can disappoint all of us. Either by trying the impossible like all gladiators, or by letting the streaks of arrogance dominate his conduct.
A year ago, Yuvraj was the prodigal son of Indian cricket. There was no doubt about his talent, but his attitude and application were not in the zone.
A brilliant, alert fielder inside the ring, he began to move like a slow coach. There were signs of a paunch, and laziness. A bad patch and injures made things worse. A sedate IPL, a pale shadow of the T20 World Cup that India won where he blasted six sixes in an over from young Broad, added insult to those injuries.
A player like Yuvraj or Sehwag banks on his talent and confidence.
He stretches out not watching the ball on to the face of the bat, but trusting his hand-eye coordination and a calculation that defies lesser batsmen’s sense of timing. He times the shot, the lovely arc of the bat meeting the ball somewhere on its journey unleashing it like a ballistic missile.
His adventures hinge on his confidence. Without self-confidence, he is like a deflated balloon.
Losing his place in the Test team was a huge blow to Yuvraj’s ego, and it was dented like a flimsy aluminum vessel. His feet hesitated to leave the crease, his bat came down tentatively.
The timing went awry.
But he kept the faith in his talent—and was inspired by the ‘special person’ he said he is playing this World Cup for. His father, Yograj, feels the special person is most likely the special person to Indian cricket. Yograj, who played his only Test for India in 1981 against New Zealand, says Sachin has always been a guardian angel for his son.
We know how Yuvraj thanked Sachin for a century against the Sri Lankans for his advice on how to sort out Ajantha Mendis.
His approach to his batting during this tournament has impressed all. He has so far scored five half-centuries in six outings, with four man-of-the-matches, and picked up a clutch of wickets.
It is good for Indian cricket that he seems to have set aside that suicidal brashness, and has begun to bat more sensibly, making good use of his precocious talent.
Batting is often like a watch-maker’s job. You need concentration, precision and patience in good measure.
Yuvraj showed in his last outing against the Australians that he has come of age. If he had thrown away his wicket trying any flamboyant shot, the Australians would have crawled back into the match.
Champion teams need just a foothold to creep back. But Yuvraj applied himself and cut all frills out and saw India home.
That’s maturity. That’s sensible batting. And, he gave vent to all those bottled up pressure with a Tarzan-like war cry after scoring the winning boundary.
We are just a few hours from the crucial, pressure-cooker match against Pakistan at Mohali. Home boy Yuvraj must have saved all his marbles for this game, like every player on either side for it is the match of the tournament so far.
Winning the World Cup will be the icing on the cake for Yuvi, and a perfect gift for the ‘special person’.
But, more than winning any tournament, it is important that Yuvraj hasn’t let his enormous talent go waste in the tide of odds and obstacles.
Like Malcolm Muggeridge said: ‘Never forget that only dead fish swim with the stream.’
Glad that Yuvraj didn’t let himself swim with the stream like a dead fish.
The prodigal son has come home, coming of age.