Departing from Rajkot, where I had gone to my old school, Rajkumar College, an eight- year- old young girl, who had heard me giving a motivational talk during the assembly that morning, walked up to me and asked an interesting question. The young and confident girl asked: “Sir, what did you feel when you played for India?” Taken by surprise, I did take a few moments to reply and told her my feeling of elation to represent my country, the anxiety as to how I would perform. I also told her how being successful for my family, friends and all the well wishers, who played a part in my development, was important.
The first shock to the system is when your name is announced in the playing XI. This usually takes place at team meetings the night before a match. The ritual is for one to say a few words to your teammates.
This is followed by a sleepless night of dreaming and constructing innings and grandiose performances.
The reality comes to the fore when one steps on to the ground. The noise of thousands of people brings one to the brink of nervousness and the butterflies in the tummy sends shivers up one’s spine.
Amidst these entire uncontrollable sensations, one radiates an external image of confidence of a well- trained sportsman.
Brtitain’s Andy Murray started the last week with an incredible performance by winning the Wimbledon singles title, and doing so for each and every British fan.
The burden of expectation must have been heavily lying on his shoulders and to come out with flying colours requires immense mental and physical strength and belief.
The Ashes series has started with a bang in England. A young 19-year-old Australian, Ashton Agar, has taken the cricket world by storm by registering the highest score of 98 by a No. 11 batsman.
Ashton did indicate that he barely slept the night before and for him to have performed so remarkably in front of his near and dear ones speaks volumes for his self- confidence and ability.
Nothing is comparable to success. India winning the triangular series final with one wicket by the timely knock of unflappable Mahendra Singh Dhoni makes one belief that maybe there are individuals who have either mastered their nerves, have unbelievable confidence in their ability or are just genius.
The way in which Dhoni completed the victory indicates that he seems to have all these three traits rolled into one.
I was in the audience of a debate recently, anchored by a well-known TV Channel head. The topic was to understand Dhoni’s performances and whether he has the luck of the devil or the acumen of a truly great leader. There were arguments for and against his tactics, bowling changes and his performances in leading the Test team.
But to me the most astonishing aspect was that all these individuals, who have been in the periphery of the Indian captain, were still trying to understand the Man Mountain. They all accepted the fact that the quite reclusive Dhoni has been one that not a single person has been able to fathom. He is a person who they say, is reserved and shows no emotion even to criticism or comments.
To effortlessly make the required 15 runs in just four balls of the last over of the match, speaks volumes of his capabilities and self- belief. One cannot just attribute all his winning achievements to luck, as there must be a streak of genius in him.
(The writer is a former Test cricketer)