“We’ve reached the semis!”, I shrieked and my wife nodded. I am sure she keeps wondering why the hell am I so excited about Cricket that we play without any spectators and commercial breaks. Of course, the absence of these two mean that there is no money involved. No doubt, we pool in from our hard earned money to be able to play. I don’t blame her. Most of the people not associated to the game of Cricket would laugh at the idea of a team fighting it on the field with an average age of 30. At this age, one is expected to be taking the kids to the zoo or a park on the weekend.

Those who’ve lived through the 90s, have a special place for cricket in their hearts. We are the generation who collected bulks of Center Fresh Sports Card. We are the ones who have used the washing bats to play. We’ve had used every stretch of the neighborhood for a game of cricket with the rules molded to suit the arena. We’ve all got memories of breaking window panes, and then running away. Though we’ve had our Mario and Contra moments, but they could never replace the pleasure of sweating it out on the field. Believe it or not, 3 of my 5 best friends today, met me on a cricket field when I was 13.

Cricket is not IPL for me, and IPL can never be cricket for me. For me Cricket is Sharjah, the 1996-1999 World Cup, Dada and the wall playing English county. Cricket for me is asking Sachin aa gaya kya? Cricket for me is memories engraved in my heart with no chance of being erased, with force or with love. Cricket is not 20-20 for me, it is the 50 over match with 15 over field restriction. Cricket, for me, is what it will never be again for anyone again.

I am turning 30 but, inside, I am still that boy who can spend his whole day on the field, throwing away all my stress and worries. I can’t do that though, I am a married man. I got responsibilities that need me. I am part of a system which has little place for Cricket, but this system needs my presence for it to run smoothly. I need to go to work, take care of my household, and plan my future. For everything that goes around me, Cricket is my present. It’s that instant recipe of happiness that can take me out of any situation immediately.

The society doesn’t easily accept who I truly am but rather who I should be. Should I care for what someone else wants me to be? Or should I let my soul sail in the boat I have always wanted to be in, on a journey I have always wanted to be part of, towards a place I so want to reach.

Wait a minute? This all sounds like a fairly tale, doesn’t it? Well, trust me, life is indeed a fairly tale. With the trademark ups and downs, this life is indeed a story; a story that you write and narrate at the same time. Only a few are able to write a story that is narrated by others for years to come. That brings me back to the question on whether I should do what others expect from me? No, I wish to write my story, my way. That’s the reason, you can never take the Cricketer out of me.

By Mohit Agarwal