Tuesday, December 13, 2011
I was returning to Chennai by Pallavan Express on 7th December (last Wednesday) after a trip to Srirangam for Kaisika Ekadesi. I got down at Mambalam and boarded a crowded 12G bus at 12.30pm. 10minutes later, I was shocked (and could not believe my eyes) to find the 1988Ranji Trophy winning captain S. Vasudevan getting on to the crowded bus at the SIET signal and making a bus trip standing a few yards in front of me. He did not see me and I let it be. I wondered as to what the Ranji Captain of Tamil Nadu was up to going by a local MTC bus and standing, at that.
Only a few days earlier, I had read the interview of Sunil Subramaniam in The Hindu and his comments about Vasudevan being a simple man.
What better example to signify that comment of Sunil than Tamil Nadu’s former Ranji captain taking a crowded bus, standing without anyone noticing him and quietly getting down a few stops later and carrying on with his work. And this just a week after I had written about Abhinav and his lifestyle interview (Sorry Abhinav to pull you in again).
Current crop of players are proud to display their gadgets at the drop of a hat.
Former greats like Vasudevan lead a simple life, almost unnoticed, despite significant achievements over a long period of time in the cricketing arena (every time you bring their achievements to a discussion, they almost shy away asking what this fuss is all about). That’s the yesteryear greats for you.
Vasudevan has been at the Mylapore Club almost every day for the last many months with very few realising that here was a Ranji Trophy captain - one who had taken over 200wickets partnering a large part of the late 70s - mid 80s with Venkataraghavan as TN’s spin twin of that decade standing a few yards away from them.
Hundreds of kids who come to the VB Academy (and then eat pizzas at the club canteen!!!) pass by him day in day out with almost none recognising the legendary TN Captain and left arm spinner.
Since they do not know his greatness, what point in me asking the question ‘what a great opportunity they are missing of taking advise from him not just on cricket and bowling but also on values of life and building strong character. For did Vasudevan not make way for Sunil Subramaniam in the TN side a year after he had lifted the Ranji Trophy with a tremendous personal performance that year so the then promising Sunil could blossom.
Co- incidentally, exactly a week earlier to this Vasudevan incident, I was witness to S. Venkataraghavan standing by the road side on RK Salai near the USIS under the shade of a tree as I made my way from the Gemini Fly over. After having crossed him, a thought struck me if I should check if he needed any help. And in his characteristic style and without any fuss at all, he asked me to carry on!!!
Former Ranji Captain, at 56, takes a bus home and a cricketer in his first year for India is already talking about the fancy car he drives!!!
And earlier this evening, as I watched Vasudevan share his cricketing insights with a 11year old (who I was talking to as Vasudevan walked in) at the VB academy, I wondered if that kid understood that this was probably his best moment to-date in cricket- that of a TN cricketing great walking up to him on his own and providing him with invaluable cricketing and life inputs.
Those few minutes that Vasudevan spent with this 11year old would easily have been a great learning for anyone who listened to him!!! Vasudevan asked him about his stance ( and immediately spotted an error!!!), his cricketing ambitions and what made him come thrice a week to practice cricket and where he wanted to go, his studies and the marks he got there in his class 7 exams, his school and the cricket team, his highest score to date, his daily schedule as a cricketer and what he was learning every day as a cricketer which I am sure the academy he is at would not even thought of as a relevant subject to dwell into!!!
Are these not questions that VB should be asking every kid who wants to sign up at the academy!! or at least the parents should be asking themselves and the kid. I almost felt sorry for Vasudevan for the kid's mother stood there at the Mylapore Club gate listening to these insightful comments from the great but not being to grasp the finer points of what he was trying to make and not knowing that her son had just had the moment of his life one that he should be going to school tomorrow and boasting about- he had just got Free Cricketing and Life lessons from Tamil Nadu's former Ranji Captain, the kind of time that coaches normally monetise!!!
Vasudevan summed it up all to the kid in a single sentence – Cricket is an Education and provides Life Learning opportunities just as you learn different subjects at School. ‘Very few realise that’ he told the kid and walked away after wishing the kid well.
VB Academy would do well to utilise the services of Vasudevan as a guide for the students at least once in a while, if not on a regular basis. Let alone cricket, these young 10year olds would learn 'Lessons of Life' from Vasudevan.
Is VB listening or has his focus completely turned to Cricket Commentary!!