Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Following In The Footsteps of Cricketing Giants

I once met a cricket master at a local public school who, some years previously, had taken a team of boys to India. He told me that one of his opening batsmen had asked his opposite number, by way of conversation, what their highest opening partnership had been. “664” was the reply. This partnership, between Sachin Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli, was made in Mumbai’s inter-school Harris Shield, and Tendulkar made 326, not out.
In the past three seasons, three cricketers have broken Tendulkar’s record in the same competition. Remarkably, they all played for the same school team – Rizvi Springfield in Mumbai. Sarfaraz Khan made 439 at the age of just 12. Earlier this year, and still only 15, he smashed a century for India Under-19 against South Africa in just 66 balls. Armaan Jaffer scored 473 at the age of 14, having previously scored 498 in another tournament two years previously. Now, Prithvi Shaw has eclipsed them by making 546 shortly after his 15th birthday. Pritvi’s story is quite remarkable. When he was just 4 years old his mother died, by which time he had already enrolled in the local cricket academy. At the age of 8 he started commuting to Rizvi Springfield School in West Mumbai with his father. Speaking on the BBC’s “Outlook” programme, this is how he described his day: “It was quite hard to travel. So we wake up at 4 o’clock, get the train at 6 o’clock….my school starts at 8.00 so it was a quite busy schedule. After my school from 8.30 to 2.30 I was having MIG practice (his cricket club in Mumbai). The practice was from 3 o’clock to 6.30. And then go to tuition at 8 o’clock, and then coming back at 11/11.30, and then eating then sleeping”. And it’s not just in Mumbai. Krishna Narayan from Kerala has become a YouTube sensation after his father posted videos of him batting form the age of 4. He’s now 9 years old. These kids generally have fathers who are somewhere on the spectrum from very supportive to extremely pushy to living their dreams through their kids. And therein lays the danger. In fact there are two dangers. Firstly, the father’s anxiety for the son to succeed transmits itself to the child who therefore loses the enjoyment of just playing. And the second danger is that the child believes that he is naturally supremely talented and doesn’t develop the mental strength to deal with setbacks. For an excellent article on this, see: At least they are unlikely to suffer the date of probably the greatest batting prodigy of all. In 1899, 13-year old AEJ Collins scored 628 not out playing for Clarke’s House, Clifton College, Bristol. This remains the highest score ever made in a competitive cricket match. Although he batted over four afternoons, he actually spent less than seven hours at the crease. Born in India, he was already an orphan by the time he began at Clifton, where he held a scholarship. A sporting all-rounder, he played half-back for the rugby XI, and won a bronze medal for boxing at a public school competition in 1901. He never played first class cricket, but joined the Army. In 1914, at the age of 29, he was killed in the First Battle of Ypres. David Donner