Abhijeet had been appointed as the new captain of this famous team that had won many championships held at this club, He was a performer who had previously played for different clubs and was a very prominent name in cricketing circles..
Rocking Reds was the name of the team that had appointed him after their old captain had retired and they were left with no other player who could replace him .They played club matches at the Bombay Gymkhana and their arch rivals were The Blistering Blacks. Other teams like Yellow Superstars and Master-Blaster Blues usually lost in the competition and only these two teams were left in their battle for supremacy every year.
At the very first practice match Abhijeet noticed something unusual. A Funny looking man who had weird style of walking stood right next to the square leg umpire and was busy chatting with the fielder placed there. He then ran across swaying his arms and came to say ‘Good Luck Captain’ to Abhijeet and ran towards the main umpire and stood next to him
He announced the score after every ball. He was very thin and wore over sized clothes. His grin was constantly stuck to his face and he was involved in the match with strong levels of enthusiasm. He appeared to be a huge fan of cricket , but was equally happy irrespective of which side was on the winning edge.He clapped when Abhijeet played a good shot, he even clapped and rejoiced when the bowler bowled a good ball. He was in for a good game of cricket.
After the match Abhijeet inquired about this buffoon who acted like a cricket expert but he was sure he would not be able to play even a single ball. He was told he was Chintu, an autistic man in his late thirties who was a cricket enthusiast., He was very popular for his jokes, his motivational speeches, his cricket commentary and hilarious pitch reports with comments like “The Ball may spin by mistake, and the batsman may fall here, if he slips ” followed by an erratic laughter . He approached everyone and gave them his free coaching, his suggestions on their bat – lift or stance. He did make sense sometimes but he was never taken seriously.
Chintu was very loved, he sat in everyone’s dressing room. Shared the lunch he brought , he even ordered snacks and brought fruit juices, milk shakes for players even without asking
Chintu would be the first one to inspect a pitch, he would give a few suggestions to the curator also.
He belonged to one of the richest families in that locality, he would always be dressed in off white clothes, donning a white hat with the symbol of Team India.
Even since he understood the game, Chintu wanted to be a cricketer. That was the only thing he understood but unfortunately because of his autism , he found it very difficult to connect the bat to the ball, due to weak motor skills , he could never judge the speed of the ball or which way it was moving He was made fun of , and most of them used him to get their work done as we would be always ready to anything that he was told. Rushing in and out of dressing rooms, carrying helmets, carrying water bottles, carrying bats and other cricketing gear. He sometimes waved out to the crowd when he went on to the field to give these things. He did have a huge fan following and he did a very amusing dance whenever his favorite team – The Rocking Reds won , it was basically an expressionist dance with his hands moving in all directions and his waist moving with his feet firmly grounded.
He attempted bowling in some practice matches where he bowled ridiculously , making fun of himself and laughed endlessly when we bowled a wide.
His over usually took 16 balls to get over, and he would rejoice if he got the ball to turn by accident. He never attempted batting, as he was scared of the fast ball knocking off his head.
Chintu’s best friend and favourite cricketer Amit Shahane had recently retired and Abhijeet had replaced him.
Abhijeet Abhyankar, the new star player was visibly upset by Chintu, as he frequented the practice ground, nets and tried to give his cricketing advice to all his players. In the practice game just before the match with the arch rivals Abhijeet got out trying to drive outside the off stump nicking the ball to the wicket-keeper. Chintu walked up to him and hit his palm hard on his own head, made an angry expression and said “What are you doing captain, You should not fish at the balls out side the off stump ” “Play from within the crease”
Abhijeet who was already irritated because of his lack of form, got agitated at the advice of this autistic man and furiously pushed him back and retorted ” Do you know that you are Mad ? ” ” They all tolerate you, but never ever dare to come to me and offer your bullshit advice “
Every one was stunned but they did not speak, tears flew down Chintu’s cheeks and he left immediately.
The Atmosphere of the ground was very dull after that , everyone continued the practice game but the usual chirpiness was missing. There was no one to clap, motivate the players and importantly count the scores. Abhijeet saw in everyone’s eyes a certain hatred for him, and some amount of sadness
Rocking Red’s Lost the first match were badly. Abhijeet tried everything he possibly could to get their act together but something was amiss.
The Very day Next Abhijeet saw Chintu enter the practice session walking towards the team with his eyes buried at the ground.and typical swaying of hands as he walked past Abhijeet ‘Some people have no self respect ‘ said Abhijeet but chintu ignored it and walked ahead sprinting towards his old team mates and friends.
Some time later Chintu walked up to Abhijeet with another player named Vikas and with his eyes firmly fixed on the ground chintu said to Vikas ” Tell the captain , i saw yesterday’s match. He has a problem with his stance. Tell him to stand outside the crease and widen his legs a little more.” and he left without looking back,
in the next game , After 10 balls he missed in succession Abhijeet felt frustrated. The Run rate was getting worse and a boundary was very badly needed to be hit. Unwillingly and halfheartedly Abhijeet decided to play an extravagant slog. But to his misfortune he completely miscued the shot.and it went high in the air. The only saving grace was that the fielder misjudged the catch and Abhijeet narrowly escaped another humiliation. Vikas who was the non-stiker uttered tentatively ” I would suggest just try Chintu’s advice once.”
Abhijeet said : Do you even know how many hundreds i have scored in my career ? ” I do not need an autistic cricket enthusiast to teach me how i should bat ” Although he said this, he felt from inside that he should keep his ego aside and attempt to try what chintu had said, Then he saw Chintu sitting in the stands and cheering. Irrespective of his hatred for this buffoon. He was amazed to see the enthusiasm with which Chintu was cheering for his team and smiling, He then convinced his mind that he will change his stance and try to bat as suggested by Chintu..
Abhijeet stood outside the crease and widened his legs. The first ball he faced after changing his stance sky rocketed to the boundary as it had hit the sweet spot on the bat. Chintu was right, standing outside the crease meant the ball reaching the bat faster and not allowing the bowler the extra length to make the ball change its course.
That instantly hit Abhijeet’s psyche and it generated tremendous respect for the man he had been completely underrating,
Abhijeet scored a hundred and Team Rocking Reds won the match ‘I Had really underestimated you my friend’ he said while hugging a dancing chintu ‘ you understand the game better than me’
To which Chintu replied ‘ I wish i could play as well, Captain’
It was the second match with the arch rivals and from a distance Abhijeet saw the players bonding between Chintu and heard roars of laughter . As Abhijeet approached the happy unit of players rejoicing with Chintu, they all went quiet and a visibly upset Chintu said ” Tell him not to talk to me, i am katti (term used by kids to show that they do not wish to talk)”
Abhijeet smiled and said ” I am sorry, i thought you could help with my stance” ” i am not sure if this is the correct way to stand, when i am facing fast bowlers”
Chintu immediately clapped and jumped in excitement ” In his usual style, he stood and showed the correct batting stance to Abhijeet and corrected him by holding his hands when Abhijeet imitated it”
I wish we all were like Chintu, in resolving our differences . In forgiving , in motivating
He Unconditionally set out to help those players, he ran all day giving them juice, water and even offering the cricketing advice from time to time. Abhijeet realized that no matter how great a player he may become, he can never bring the enthusiasm Chintu had.
Coincidentally Rocking reds won all their matches in the remaining part of the tournament and emerged champions. Chintu was Some one who does not physically contribute to team , but he was the mental strength who motivated them and re-leaved their stress from time to time
Abhijeet still continues to make an effort to somehow have chintu connect bat to ball . The day he connects his bat to the ball , i m sure it will hit the sweet spot and sky rocket to the fence and there will be a thunderous clapping from the audience and everyone will cheer for Chintu as he has always done for others. There is a hope, we all live with hope and hope is what keeps us going .
We are all like Chintu in some way, we willingly give advice to others to change where they stand and how they stand. But when it comes to us we are still struggling to connect our bats to the balls life throws at us with tremendous speed and movement.