In all 16 years of my life, sports have educated me in a way no textbook ever could. Sports — especially cricket — have ingrained in me the valuable lessons of patience, determination and above all of how to embrace defeat.
I had the opportunity to be part of the Karachi Grammar School cricket team that took part in the 1st Karachi Inter-School T20 championship sponsored by Geo Super a few months ago. I could easily term this as one of my fondest memories and a chance for tremendous growth that came with the joys of victory, the pressures of a game and dealing with defeat.
My lesson in determination was learnt much before the beginning of the tournament, during our school selection trials. Living in a country full of passionate cricket fans, it was no surprise that our school generated some great talent, my immediate competition. The first few spots in the team were occupied in a breeze and a few of us were left to battle it out for the remaining few vacancies. From bowling 10 overs each at the nets, to running rounds of the school stadium, we attempted to impress our school coach, Sir Abid Elahi, who was determined to pick only the strongest links for the team.
I also set out to prove my worthiness and so after lengthy bowling sessions and strenuous exercises I managed to squeeze myself into the squad. Sports had taught me to strive hard for what I am passionate about.
Before the start of this tournament our team was playing in another cricket tournament. We had arrived at the SKZB stadium keenly observing the dew covered grass and the seemingly dry flat pitch, eagerly waiting for our turn to play. I wouldn’t be given that chance just yet, and to my great disappointment, I did not hear my name called out for the starting 11. Throughout the 80 overs played I had to deliver water to batsmen while I pictured myself standing in their place. I would scurry onto the field to take my coaches’ messages and strategies to the players and then change the scoreboard every once in a while. My patience paid off when, due to an injury of a teammate, I was included in the playing 11. My job mostly consisted of scouting the boundaries and I had the privilege to bowl a few overs during the middle stage of the opposition innings. My position neither demanded nor delivered any heroics but it was a start.
The T20 tournament had begun and to my pleasant surprise our coach included me in the starting 11 again. He took me to a corner before the match and expressed his pleasure at the potential he had seen in me, expecting better performance from me today. Our bowlers beautifully bowled out the first spell and then I was given the ball. This was my chance to prove myself. I put my heart and soul into my overs and ended up securing the Bowler of the Match trophy for my two wickets for one run figures. I was ecstatic and giggled all the way to the microphone, where I was to give my interview.
I felt that my cricketing career had kick-started and I was over the moon as the next match proved as good as the previous one. We managed to secure our spot in the semi-final but then disaster struck. The game didn’t go as well as we had expected. Our opposition had won the toss and batting first, they put up a mammoth target for us to chase. Our batting crumbled and we were eliminated from the tournament. We left the stadium with swollen faces; most of us had not faced such disappointment in life. We were shattered. The ride home was a painstaking one as all the players sat quietly in their seats. But then our coach rekindled our flame as he expressed his pleasure at our wonderful run in the tournament and told us how winning and losing is part of the game.
His words still ring in our minds; he told us to play with a big heart and try to enjoy the game. Losing was just part of it.
When I look back I feel that life is like a game of cricket too; I think it has prepared all of us to deal with the googly’s life will inevitably throw our way.