Guest Post- Autobiography of a bat
They called me the Excalibur. They did. And he took it as the biggest compliment that he ever got. I never knew what the fuss was all about. After all, I was just a bat. “Just a bat? Just a bat?” he asked. “You are not just a bat”, he announced, “You are my totem. Without you, I would cease to exist. What would I be if not for you?” Maybe he was right, maybe not. We defined each other. But I didn’t say it loud that day. I didn’t need to.
For him, I was his tireless and faithful companion. For me, he was the superhero and I, his weapon of choice. Some thought that we were inseparable. Well, that was justified given the way we behaved on tours. He took me to the room where he stayed and we would have endless discussions regarding match tactics and players. Contrary to what everybody thought, we had our differences. We did. But on the field? NEVER. I seem to remember a certain sunny day in South Africa. In the shadow of Table mountain, we were facing The Fast One. Calling that guy a genius would be highly unfair to his skills. And that day, the fast one was in his in the mood. Swing, what prodigal swing! That day, the ball seemed to obey its master rather than the laws of Physics. Such was the ferocity. I was cowering in fear, but the one who held me was unflinching. He asked me to endure. Many-a-times, I asked him to counterattack. But he knew better. He probably had braved someone like The Fast One earlier. He whispered “Let us not attack now. Right now, he is too hot for us to handle. We will need some luck and I promise, I hold you softly so that the nicks don’t carry.” And thus sensibility prevailed. And then in the next 2 sessions, the 50-odd deliveries I faced off The Fast One are, perhaps, one of the most enduring memories in my lifetime. No counterattack, we buckled down. Anything outside the off, even marginally was left. Anything on the stumps by The Fast One was blocked. Something that Rahul, the batsman approved of. I could see him applauding me. That makes this memory even special. We prevailed, yes we did. But The Fast One was smart enough to wipe off the other side. Eventually, we managed to provide our team with a slender advantage but the day’s honours were evenly shared. Perhaps, the most thrilling day in the modern day test cricket. Later, I came to know that The Fast One was known as Dale Steyn.
Our companionship also led him to be protective of me. One day, when he was talking to me about the new flick through the midwicket he was trying to develop, Suresh and Yuvraj barged into the room. They were on their way to bat in the nets and they wanted to bat with me. That thought spent a shiver down my spine. After all, a surgeon’s scalpel when placed in a butcher’s hand is going to be rendered into a blunt tool with zero effectiveness. Even he realized that, and instead of me, Suresh and Yuvraj got my newest peers. You could not possibly imagine the happiness on their faces. The Master’s bat, they thought. And that idea was enough for them to play out the session with all the glee and enthusiasm they ever had experienced in their lives.
His protectiveness for me also showed when I started to age. With the number of balls that we struck daily, that was bound to happen sooner than later. But he couldn’t just digest this fact. He couldn’t just bear to lose me. Such were the memories. The patching kept going on. The taping on my shoulder and my toe was so dense, that it was almost threatening to wipe out the existence of the sponsors of my face. He kept loving me and could not part with me despite me blackening all over the face because of the tiny layers of wood peeling off.
Finally, one day when we were back in the country, I asked him to let me go. Perhaps the most painful sentence I have ever said to him. He left me on the bed and sat there on the chair reliving all the old memories. And then there was a knock on the door. It was Rahul, not the batsman but the voracious reader. He had just read a newspaper article and he found a quote in the article to be very interesting. So he said it out loud “Batman puts on a cape, Spiderman needs a costume, Superman sheds his normal clothes to reveal his true self. But Sachin Tendulkar only needs to pick up a bat in hand to be a superhero.”
And Sachin Tendulkar turned around to look at me. All he could do is muster a smile but the eyes were glistening.
This is a post by one of my very good friends, Mr. Abhay Patade, an ardent fan of cricket, an avid follower of soccer and a run-away IMDB guide. Do check his blog out at http://abhaypatade.blogspot.in/