A cricketer who dares to be different

As long as Parag is comfortable, as the successful players were before him, the results will surely follow.

Riyan Parag. (Photo source: Twitter)

Indian cricket has not had the best relationships with players who dared to be different. Vinod Kambli is perhaps the most telling example of this – someone who loved to have a good time off the pitch, while being incredibly good at what he had to do: play cricket. But his flamboyance, as his coach and one of the greatest cricketers in the country, the late Ramakant Achrekar, said it, rubbed people the wrong way.

Once the impression was formed, Kambli found it hard to shake off and despite the nine comebacks, he only played 17 Tests, which was a price he paid for being who he was – different from others. It would be hard to imagine that the legendary Shane Warne, a ‘different’ cricketer in his own right, would have achieved the same things he did when he played for the Indian cricket team, as his exuberance would have been a little hard to digest.

Indian cricket has an easy relationship with cricketers minding their own business. However, you bring a Ravi Shastric – whose brilliant cricket performance as a player and coach is certainly among the best in Indian cricket, but who gets quite a bit of criticism from time to time for the way he is – he is different from the expected standard a cricketer in India should follow.

Shastri is pronounced; loves his life, and that, does not attract his cricketing achievements, eyeballs and criticism. If a football analogy can be brought into the argument, let’s say Indian cricket has a problem adapting to a Jose Mourinho, but is quite comfortable with a Sir Bobby Robson.

However, with Sourav Ganguly at the helm, who has experience dealing with such ‘different’ cricketers during his tenure as captain, things now appear to have improved as evidenced by the successful reintegration of KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya in the Indian team.

However, for the fans, at least for some of them, the various characters are difficult to tune in to. For them, there’s still the same old pattern to be the ideal cricketer – be docile on the pitch, when off the pitch there should be no or the absolute minimum of social media activity. If you deviate from this story, it gets tricky, moderated by how good your form is – the worse it is, the more likely you are to be criticized.

Take Pandya, for example, who is currently widely praised for his captaincy after the 2022 IPL. Shreevats Goswami, who played for Sunrisers Hyderabad last season, denounced the hypocrisy with a tweet, drawing attention to how the player has been criticized countless times before for his clothing style or his self-confidence. Virat Kohli also had to deal with it in his early days – because of the tattoos and his aggressive attitude. When he propelled himself to become the leading hitter in the game with the same attributes, it was all considered positive, just as it is happening with Pandya now.

It all points to one thing: every player has their own journey to the top. There is no set mold, contrary to popular belief, that guarantees success in the sport. The problem is not that people often see someone like Rahul Dravid as the ideal cricketer, the problem is that they close themselves off to the idea that people to be otherwise, they can to be different. Many have died in this call for uniformity because they lacked the confidence, clarity and resilience that people like Kohli, Pandya or Shastri had in themselves.

Riyan Parag
Riyan Parag. (Photo source: IPL/BCCI)

The current one on the radar is the 20-year-old Riyan Parag† He showed promise and given his seemingly playful nature, it was a foregone conclusion that when the chips went down he was the target.

Cricket, as Dwayne Bravo once told Sompal Kami, the Nepali cricketer who shared the locker room with him during the Canadian T20 competition, is all about confidence. As long as Parag feels at ease, as the successful players were before him, the results will no doubt follow – sooner or later – as they did with the captaincy of Gujarat Titans. Doubting himself and changing himself in the wake of an outside opinion, however, will be disastrous, as it happened to a young Graeme Hick when the Englishman began to doubt himself and his technique after being criticized by a section, despite him having countless runs. in the county circuit.

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