I don’t have a plan and I haven’t thought this through.
I feel like writing something, anything, in much the same way that a recovering drug addict relapses on an overpriced bag of anything that cures the itch. Without the negative connotations of course.
I’ve used the word “anything” twice in two sentences. I’m not going to think about that today even if journalists label me a blasphemous heretic. Just for today, I will resist the temptation to read, re-read, and re-re-read every sentence that I write. Eyes forward, Jay.
Why do we watch cricket? Or play it? Or write about it? Playing, watching, or commenting on cricket is a high like no other. It’s not an escape at all. It feels like a way to grow, learn and improve. It makes us feel happy. It feels like life itself.
Much like the world outside of this beautiful sport, cricket is largely a mental game. Those of us who aspire to write about the gentleman’s game often encounter the same issue that affects so many players; a lack of self belief.
I haven’t written an article for more than a year. A mixture of adverse life events and poor decisions that caught up to me have contributed to anxiety and self-doubt that affected more than just my desire to put pen to paper. Words, which once flowed out of my mouth with the same effortlessness that VVS Laxman would whip Shane Warne off his legs, suddenly started to evade me. My thoughts slowed down, my speech slowed down, and my fingertips became strangers to a keyboard they were once well acquainted with.
What if they don’t like what I write? What if my jokes aren’t funny? My grammar is not great. I might come across as an imbecile. I’m not a good writer and I have nothing to offer the reader. Why would anyone care what I write about? It’s probably shit anyway. I’m disappointing everyone around me. I’m not good enough.
It’s amazing what an athlete can achieve when he ignores his/her inner critic. Conversely, it’s staggering to see what this inner critic has to say when the chips are down.
What if I’m just a sub-continent bully? I flopped in the county championship. How do I stand a chance against Anderson and co? I’ve been dropped and I deserve it. I can’t stick around and when I do I barely trouble the scorers. I’m disappointing everyone around me. I’m not good enough.
Cheteshwar Pujara is a frickin’ beast. He’s scored 3575 runs in Asia at an average of 65. He most definitely has the potential to score runs overseas. Although conditions are very different and success is not guaranteed, he is often compared to Dravid for the simple reason that he is bloody talented. He’s a throwback, with a cult following and every time that he performs feels like a win for test cricket. Even if he does not conquer England, nobody can take away the joy that each one of his 14 test tons has provided him.
Pujara is clearly a better player than I am a writer. Self-hatred? Far from it. I don’t need a trophy to feel good. I’m no Kimber, Dobell, or Wigmore. And I’m okay with that.
However, today I feel the way I imagine they must feel when they finish an article. I feel proud. Was this piece any good? Was it useful? That’s for you to decide. My pride does not come from the quality of this piece as much as it comes from the simple fact that I wrote it. After more than a year off, I finally strode out to the middle, took a leg-stump guard, silenced my inner critic and had a swing. Caught at mid-off? Missed a straight one? Bowled off an inside edge after being distracted by a pigeon? Just for today, that is irrelevant.
At least I had a crack. At least I have people in my corner. At least I have a smile on my face.