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I remember being told at the missionary school in Srinagar where I was studying, that cricket was a way of life, it taught us values of discipline and other virtues. Later in life I discovered that cricket was a sport, like any other, and it being "virtuous" was a myth created by the British ruling elite. Today, after reporting on the sport all over the world, working at notable media houses and observing the game for almost more than 40 years, cricket has become my vocation.
It became a means of expression for me. Even in the book, cricket is the glue that binds everything; it helped me untangle my experiences and explain the social dynamics of caste, identity, nationalism, politics, and religion through my lens.
During my university years, due to sheer luck , I got a job at Indian Express in 1978. Joining the Express sports desk in Chandigarh led to getting assignments that helped me widen my understanding of the world I lived in. I became the sports editor at the Pioneer, Hindustan Times and cricket editor of The Indian Express. I travelled extensively, covering international cricket in every test-playing nation.
My interaction with some of the most outstanding players the game has ever seen, made me realize that playing cricket was a passion for them and they could sacrifice anything to become better at their game. I also realised that life is a complex mix, helping me to reflect upon intricacies that go beyond the sport. The people who were worshipped by many and followed by millions, were just like any other normal person, strong in many respects but vulnerable to human temptations as well.
(As told to Sanya Tyagi)
To be continued…..
(NOT JUST CRICKET: A Reporter's Journey through Modern India https://amzn.eu/d/3yp6NXc)