Memories of Cricket – 1

Welcome to a new series called ‘Memories Of Cricket’ – (MOC). A three-part series where I repost the first question that I usually ask all my interviewees i.e. Early memories of this sport. Through this article, you can get to know how and when these fans were introduced to this great game of Cricket. Below are the early memories of 15 Indian cricket fans that I have interviewed till now. Do read till the end to find out about part two of the ‘MOC’ series.

It dates back to the late 90s. Have so many fond memories of playing with my cousins and friends in my colony. I have vague memories of Sachin’s Sharjah storm. And, 1999 WC is when I started following it closely.

Being an Indian born after 1983, interest in cricket is something that is so natural, that you don’t remember the exact moments when you first watched it live on TV. I was told that I watched the 2003 World Cup as a baby with a lot of interest, though I don’t particularly remember (I guess it was some other series later). The first memory I vividly remember along with the players involved in it was the 2007 T20 World Cup-winning final – Joginder bowling to Misbah who hits it straight to land on Sreesanth’s hand. Though I think, I watched much more moments before that (my memory wasn’t good when I was a child). Just a casual fan like many in the country, but developed a serious interest and addiction to the game since the 2013 Champions Trophy. This interest never took a back step, though it faced some setbacks

I have always been very active since childhood. I used to play with my brother and neighbourhood boys since I was in 2nd grade. After returning from school, we had to complete our homework to go out to play in the evening. Playing cricket for 1-1.5 hours seemed the goal of life at that point of life. “Roz utho, school jao, padho, aur phir cricket khelne jao”- Inner peace.

It all began in the early 2000s, as a six-year-old during the 2003 ODI World Cup, I remember cheering for team India and crying when India lost the final in 2003 CWC. I remember watching Rahul Dravid bat in 2002 and asking the score to my van driver uncle for school and canteen workers in school. His knocks used to be my favourite and made me fall in love with test cricket. When the odds weren’t used to be in favour of India yet they would put up a great show, those were the things which thrilled me the most. Remember Eden Gardens VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid partnership?…can’t get over in nearly 2 decades later.

One of the earliest cricket memories I have is watching Sachin Tendulkar’s desert storm innings in Sharjah in 1998. It was the first time my parents allowed me to watch cricket late at night. Sachin made 143 runs in 131 balls. India lost that match but qualified for the finals. And then India went on to win the finals. From the next day, I started shadow batting with a plastic bat that I owned. In my imagination, I was hitting sixes to Shane Warne.

First of all, thank you for giving me this opportunity. To be very honest, I was pretty much born into cricket. My father and brother were huge cricket enthusiasts and also admired Sachin a lot, so they’re the ones who made me watch cricket and hence I also started watching Sachin. And once I watched him play, I couldn’t stop myself from loving him and also falling in love with the game. Basically, grew up with cricket which has now become an integral part of my life and holds some of my fondest memories.

My family says I have watched the World Cup 2003, but I honestly don’t remember anything from the tournament. Don’t doubt my memory, I was just six at that time. So I would say my first memory of cricket is Pakistan vs India series in 2004. That series was a gift for cricket lovers and, for me, the answer to ‘why is everyone around me so crazy about this game?’. From copying Balaji’s bowling style to putting dives for no reason in gully cricket like Mohammad Kaif, I took away a lot from that series. Proper entertainment.

Well, the earliest memory I can recall is India’s 2007 T20 World Cup victory, the whole T20 World Cup seems to be still fresh in my memories, it was a memorable one for a 7-year old boy, it kicked off the passion for cricket in me. Your home team, your country winning something big as the World Cup and that too the first edition, so it’s something really close to me and my heart.

My earliest memory associated with Cricket was in 1998 when Sachin Tendulkar was clobbering the Australian bowlers all around Sharjah. We call it the desert storm now! I was only 3 & a half years back then and I remember I wanted to pronounce the name ‘Tendulkar’ but couldn’t do it. So I used to call him ‘Innukal’. And then there was no looking back.

With respect to my early days watching cricket, it must have been around 2005-06. Although I don’t have clear memories or intricate details about the matches, I clearly remember being excited to watch matches on Neo Sports/Neo Cricket. Those days, we didn’t have a set-up box and it was just cable, so we had to rely on the one sports channel the cable operator used to show.

I can recall few moments from the 2004 India vs Australia test series, especially India defending a small total in Mumbai. Those days, In my home – we had only two channels with DD 1 and DD news so could able to watch India’s matches and ICC tournaments, then used to see the sports news in DD news, followed newspaper and cut those articles and paste in a book. When it is summer vacation time – I used to always be at my mother’s home and there was cable, it was so special to watch the WI home series during summer vacation and I had few good friends near my backyard so we used to play cricket daily in the evening and for the weekend from morning to evening. They played a big role then grandmother used to read the newspaper when I was young and the dish came during 2008-09 and since then I have been watching live cricket for most of the time. I didn’t have any other priority other than watching, playing cricket expect going for the movies in theatres when it releases, mainly Malayalam.

So my earliest memory of watching cricket was in 2002, details are a bit fuzzy but it was an ODI involving Sri Lanka. But the 2003 World Cup was the one event that really kickstarted my love for the game and I am eternally grateful to my mom for that as she used to watch it regularly and got me into the sport.

Growing up in Dubai, we didn’t get to see a lot of Cricket in the early ’90s. But the tournaments in Sharjah featuring India and Pakistan were always televised on the local channel. My parents followed those games, while I took time to understand what the sport was about. Once satellite television came into the picture, it was much easier to watch live cricket, and from 1994 onwards there was no looking back for a 9-year-old me. Even if the games weren’t broadcasted, I used to follow all the scores through the news channels and newspaper. Playing it with my cousins and friends was even more fun.

So my earliest memory of Cricket has to be the 2011 World Cup Finals. I was a 9-year-old kid back then with no knowledge about the game, whatever I knew back then was Sachin Tendulkar is called the God of cricket and Yuvraj Singh had hit six sixes in six balls. That’s it. My family is a huge Dhoni fan so I remember how everybody went crazy after that winning six and I too joined in those celebrations just because my country has won something.

The earliest memory I have is watching the 2003 world cup as an eight-year-old kid. I was heartbroken when we lost the finale to Australia and I even cried lol. To be very honest I have disliked the Australian team since then especially Ricky Ponting. Watching Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar play made me fall in love with the sport, they made every boundary looked so effortless and beautiful.

Thank you so much for reading. That’s the end of part one of the three-part series – ‘Memories Of Cricket’. The next ‘MOC’ article will feature Interviews of cricket fans other than Indians. Do follow me on Twitter and Instagram to make sure you don’t miss out on any cricket related content.

Twitter – @bhavsarJ2_0

Instagram – @bhavsarj2_0 @icf2_0

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