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The Broken Cricketer
by Debashish Majumdar

“Suresh, will you attend the practice match today?” said Hanif , the house master. “ Of course, I will,” Suresh said with a smile, “ I would like to earn a place in the school cricket playing eleven.”

The practice match began. Suresh proved an ace bowler. He bowled with his left hand. Spinners. He picked up two wickets. He was a bad batsman. He would mainly play
defensively. When it came to batting in this match, he was bowled out for a duck.

“ Don’t worry, Suresh,” assured Hanif, “ You will play in the Inter-School cricket tourney starting tomorrow.”

As luck will have it, Suresh twisted his left ankle. He had to sit in the pavilion and watch the game with a swollen leg. His school team Sacred Heart luckily won the match by only a single run.

Suresh had recovered for the next match. However, Hanif told him that he would like to play the winning team of the last match. Which meant, Suresh could not play. Suresh was upset but he did not show his disappointment. He cheered his school team loudly.

Sacred Hearts sailed into the finals of the Inter-School cricket tournament. They were  pitted against the Don Bosco boys.

Back home, the telephone rang. Hanif called up Suresh and told him that their star batsman Venkat was laid up with pneumonia. Hanif would make a gamble. Instead of taking in a batsman, he would let Suresh play the Finals.

The final match was slated to be played on Sunday.

The Sacred Heart boys won the toss and elected to bat. The opening batsmen added
sixty runs before both of them were dismissed. It was a thirty overs -a -side match.

Sacred Heart had scored 100 for 9 when Suresh walked in to bat.

Don Bosco were the champions. They had won the trophy for three successive years. They were trying to win the cricket tournament for the fourth time.

Suresh looked at the spectators. He noticed his mum and dad cheering him loudly. The fast bowler Arvind set up a blistering pace and hurled the ball at Suresh. Suresh placed his bat forward. The ball skimmed the bat and went crashing into the boundary for four runs!

Only two balls remained for the end of the Sacred Heart innings.

Suresh was now ready and facing the next ball. Arvind bowled a full toss on the leg stump and Suresh played a one-handed glance which sent the ball across the boundary for another four. His team-mates cheered. His parents clapped their hands.

The last ball.

Suresh received a straight delivery. He tried to hit the ball away, missed and was clean
bowled. Suresh out for eight runs.

Sacred Heart all out for 108. The Don Bosco boys needed 109 runs for victory.

Then the Don Bosco boys started their campaign. Vikram Singh was their main batsman.

He slammed three fours of the first three balls. Then he received a bouncer which he hooked towards the boundary. Suresh who was fielding near the ropes dived to his left
and pulled off a spectacular catch.

Then two wickets fell in quick succession.

Don Bosco score read : 18 for 3

Then Ashok and Seth brought off a magnificent partnership of 50 runs.

68 for 3

The Sacred Heart boys were giving up. It was then that their captain Roberts called up Suresh to bowl his spinners.

Suresh walked up a few paces and tossed the ball at Ashok. The batsman was beaten by the flight and was cleaned bowled. The players rushed in and hugged Suresh. The next batsman Imran arrived at the crease. Suresh walked a few steps and sent down a quicker delivery with his left hand. Imran lunged forward and was neatly gobbled up by Roberts, the captain himself.

Can Suresh notch up a hat-trick?

He flighted the third ball of his first over to the new batsman George. George missed the ball, the ball missed the stumps by a whisker and even beat the wicket –keeper. It raced away across the boundary ropes for four byes.

Suresh continued his superb bowling spell. He had picked up two more wickets.

The Don Bosco boys would not give up easily.

The score: 102 for 6

The last over was entrusted to Suresh. Don Bosco needed seven runs to win the title again.

Suresh bowled the first ball. It wrapped Seth on the pads. No runs. Seth was playing the anchor role and the Don Bosco boys depended on him for victory. The second ball. Seth jumped out of the crease and lofted the ball over Suresh’s head to the boundary.

The score : 106 for 6

The third ball was driven by Seth for two runs.

The score was now level at 108.

Three more balls to go and one run to win for the Bosco lads.

Suresh did not look nervous at all. Only he could stop Bosco from winning. He was a determined young boy, never giving up.

The fourth ball was driven straight to a fielder by Seth. No runs.

Suresh ran a few steps and hurled the ball at Seth. Seth was beaten as the ball pitched outside the off-stump and spun sharply. It smacked into the gloves of the waiting wicket keeper.

The last ball.

Seth was determined to hit the ball for atleast one run.

Suresh bowled a quick ball. Seth smashed the ball to the left of Suresh and started to run. Suresh dived to his left almost blindly. He groped at the ball and it held in his left palm.

Seth out , caught and bowled Suresh for a well compiled 57.

The jubilant cricket mates raised Suresh on their shoulders.

The match was a tie, neither team winning.

108 was scored by either side.

Suresh rushed to the stands and hugged his mum.

“ Well done, Suresh.” She kissed his cheeks. Suresh was the only child of his parents. His papa patted Suresh’s shoulders gently. “ I know that you will overcome all odds someday.”

It was the chief guest who addressed the large gathering:

“ I watched this young lad Suresh perform,” he began, “ Like a broken bird, Suresh does not have a wing. Yet he flew like other birds, even better than other birds…”

There was thunderous clapping all around.

It was the Principal who spoke next: “ Suresh was born without his right hand. Yet it was his mental toughness which forced the Sacred Heart boys to share the title.”

Finally, Suresh was called up to speak at the player-of-the-match award ceremony.

“ It is a matter of mind,” he said, “ I never think of my limitations when I play cricket.

God has not given me a hand but he has given me intelligence which I used to the best of my abilities on the playing field today.”  

Image under license with Gettyimages.com

27-Oct-2007
 
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