Imperfect by Sanjay Manjrekar

Imperfect by Sanjay Manjrekar

Author:Sanjay Manjrekar
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: null
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers India
Published: 2017-01-07T05:00:00+00:00

8

RETIREMENT

I DON’T REMEMBER the day after I retired as a first-class cricketer. I don’t remember how I felt when I woke up on the morning after I had ended it all. The struggle, the torture, the frustration, the hopes, the camaraderie, the fame, the joy of being a Test and first-class cricketer had come to an end at the age of thirty-two. Rahul Dravid scored 5,925 Test runs after his 32nd birthday, Michael Hussey 4,638. Whereas I, with no real fitness issues, walked away from cricket in the year 1998, with no idea what I was going to do next. I did have the financial security of a job with Air India, but I knew I was not going to do a job just for money – I had to be passionate about it.

The memories of what preceded my last match are sketchy at best. This much I can be certain of: I wasn’t sad. I had had enough. I was a Test discard. My last Test century had come five-and-a-half years ago. I had played only 15 Tests since that century against Zimbabwe. Fifteen Tests played across seven series, in which I averaged 28.09; each one played, in my mind at least, to save my career.

Now dropped from the India squad for close to two years, I knew making a comeback as an India batsman was never going to be easy. There were so many of them in good form, getting plenty of runs. You must do something more special than you did the first time around to convince selectors who have lost faith in you. During your first attempted comeback, the selectors do give you a chance to make it back to the team, but with every successive comeback attempt that interest wanes – the selectors prefer to move on.

As I’d mentioned earlier, the road to any comeback passes through Ranji Trophy and other forms of domestic cricket. To venture on to that road again was a scary thought. After playing ten years of international cricket, it was depressing to think of playing in front of empty stands day in and day out, in the hope that in one or two years I might just get another opportunity. Another opportunity to once again play to save my career.

I took great pride in being a public performer, a self-conscious one at that. I didn’t want to look awkward while playing. Getting out fending used to bother me more than getting out for a low score. I used to think what will people say. ‘What has become of this guy who was supposed to be the best Indian player against pace?’

The only thing worse was to have nobody discuss your game any more. Knowing that people were watching me play was a big high for me, and I’d get that only when I’d play at the highest level. The Wankhede Stadium used to get a few hundred – sometimes a thousand – spectators for Ranji Trophy games. They would be seated in the Garware Pavilion, right above our dressing rooms.



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