Every single time a cricketer takes up the bat, there is a hidden dream behind it, a dream of kissing the pinnacle braving herculean odds and establishing oneself in the mantle of greatness. In most cases, battling poverty is also a major impediment that needs to be confronted.
An even more important reason that one squeezes out his life on the field in pursuit of that dream is that this foray into cricket is a one-way ticket and once there, either there will be no looking back or simply no returning back.
In this story, we will take a quick look at eight cricketers who braved poverty to manifest as substantial cricketers in the international circuit.
#1 T Natarajan
Natarajan’s remarkable stint in IPL 2020 saw him gaining worldwide traction and that resulted in him notching up the international call in all three formats of the sport. However, his specialty still remains the shortest version of the game as he belts those insane toe-crushers backed by a vehement amount of pace. Natarajan belonged to one of the most impecunious families of Salem in Chinnappampatti village. He had five younger siblings that made the going even tougher for him. His father used to work in a power loom while his mother ran a fast food shop. His father left the loom later and joined his mother in running the shop which still serves until this day. Despite all the struggles, Natarajan finally made it to the big leagues, thanks to his toe-crushing yorkers leaving the batters bewildered and hurt.
#2 Rohit Sharma
The name of Rohit Sharma doesn’t sound like one that has been churned inside the blazes of poverty and as Batman’s nemesis, Bane would have put it, he was not moulded by darkness. However, not every story of poverty looks alike. The sublime hitman in the Indian ranks couldn’t savour growing up with his parents because of his financial shortcomings and his ardent passion for sports. In fact, situations were such that he even didn’t have the money to pay his school fees. He had to shift with grandparents as his parents couldn’t really afford a decent bringing-up. Seeing his affinity towards cricket, his entire family chimed on with an amount to make him join a cricket academy. Seeing him being a decent batter and trying desperately to make a living, Sharma’s preceptor, Dinesh Lad won him a scholarship and that helped him from not paying fees for the next four years. With all said and done, these were the seminal years in Sharma’s life. The Hitman we know now has travelled a long way to be what he is now.
#3 Ravindra Jadeja
The title of Jadeja used to be a very special and royal one in Jamnagar, a synonym of bravery and heroism. They also used to be the replica of a lavish lifestyle given the high posts that these men held. However, this entire story doesn’t really apply to the one of Anirudhsinh Jadeja who had to give up almost all his dreams except one to make ends meet. Despite being a security guard with no fixed income, Anirudhsinh Jadeja, father of Ravindra Jadeja allowed his son to take up the royal sport that was once graced by Jam Ranjitsinjhi. The entire family would live in a one-room employee flat that was allotted to his mother who was a nurse in a government hospital. Jadeja took up cricket not as a means of salvation but as an escape from reality that would later go on to shape his own reality.
#4 Rashid Khan
No matter how tough life can be, if you have a will to survive, nothing, I repeat, nothing can break you. The story of Rashid Khan is one such tale that saw him rise from the ashes to the very pinnacle of cricket. He is currently the best leg-spinner in the world and is also responsible for the revival of the declining art of leg-spin. He was a man whose career was shaped in the vice of a war-torn country, whose life was formulated in the stringent glimpse of regional displacement and finally kissed the sky with the entire nation coming together under his identity. He doesn’t come from a land that is stabilized but from a volatile and fragmented location that has taken the crazy road of salvation through cricket. He had a massive family that had eleven siblings, all of whom were amateur artists of leg-spin and yet it was Rashid who would go on to make the final cut with the slingshot around his neck. A country that had a label of terrorism labelled all over it is now trying to return to normal life through cricket and the label has changed from the scions of terror to the beloved followers of cricket.
#5 Mohammad Siraj
In his early days of cricket, he used to be awarded Rs 500 for claiming 5 wickets in a match. In a single match, he claimed 9 wickets and as an award, he got Rs 500. So when his IPL price tag kissed a sky-high figure of Rs 2.6 crores, his entire family went numb with overwhelming happiness. He is the son of an auto-rickshaw driver and going by the earnings which an auto-rickshaw driver has, cricket is only a pipe dream given the amount of money that flows through the sport. He was one of the moots of discourses when India didn’t pick him up in the damp conditions of Southampton for the WTC final given his ability to swing. He is also one of India’s most lethal speedsters in the current circuit and may very well be en route to replacing Jasprit Bumrah in the near offing.
#6 Bhuvneshwar Kumar
The top Indian fast bowler who has established himself as one of the most reckoning forces in the Indian bowling echelons, Bhuvi’s story of emergence isn’t particularly something that would qualify for hailing from a privileged background. The young man travelled an insane amount of distance just to keep his cricketing dream alive. There was a time when he struggled to buy proper cricketing shoes and kept on mending the tattered ones to continue with his hallowed dream. He isn’t a man who romanticizes the art of brutal fast bowling. He believes in line and length supremacy and has left the world scarred with his brilliant precision and some late swing.
#7 Pandya brothers
Sadly for Hardik Pandya, he has been at the receiving end of severe flak after poor performances in the ongoing Sri Lankan tour. Despite such heavy criticism, his journey to the ace hasn’t been a particularly smooth one. He had to brave countless odds to reach his current destination. His journey from the rags to riches starred surviving on Maggi, borrowing kits to play cricket and also hiding his car from the bank because they had no money to pay EMI. The surmounting pressure could have very well buried the dream if not for a timely intervention from the destiny that gave him a chance to redeem himself and he did it in style as Mumbai won the championship in his very first year.
#8 Jasprit Bumrah
Bumrah’s father passed away when he was just 7 years old. He was raised by his mother who was a principal and wanted Bumrah to excel in academics. She wanted him to complete his studies and then later travel to Canada for higher studies. It was at the age of 13 when the premium Indian fast bowler persuaded his mum to let him chase his career in cricket. In a talk show, Bumrah revealed how he had just one jersey to practice cricket in his initial days as his family couldn’t afford more than that.