Sunil Gavaskar once said that he took a fresh guard after every innings milestone to let the opposition know that he wasn’t done yet.
I’m 50 not out today. It has been anything but a chanceless innings. I’ve been beaten in the air, dropped in the slips, hit on the head, saved by umpire’s calls and retired hurt. I’ve even had to have by-runners for portions of this innings. There is a lot to be thankful for and some to be proud about. I’ve seen partnerships, camaraderie, dressing room pep talk, vile sledging and fun banter with the opposition. I have had coaches and teammates who kept me going when I couldn’t summon the guts to face fearsome pace or wily spin.
I must add that I’ve been on both ends of some vile sledging, but since I’m the hero of this story, I will let that slide.
It has been anything but a chanceless innings, but for each hit I took on my body, I hit either one along the ground to the boundary or above the stretched hands of a boundary fielder for six and every time that leather near-sphere met the middle of the bat, I felt alive.
What counts is that I’m still here. I’ve spent months in the nets figuring out everything that I could see was wrong with my game. I leave bouncers alone unless I’m sure that I can either guide them for six over third man or hook them for six behind deep square leg. I leave balls outside the off stump more often than i used to. I hit them only within that range that is neither too close nor too far from my feet. I defend more than I used to and don’t leave my crease as often.
I’m determined to make the remainder of my innings technically correct, but not at the cost of the fun of my natural game. How I will do that is anybody’s guess, but I will.
Someday I’ll hopefully have enough to raise my bat for, but for today I’ll just look up to the sky and give thanks. I am taking a fresh guard.
*I know that the age-runs equivalence has been messed with in a couple of sentences. Allow me this one.