Saturday, November 30, 2013

Mr. Humble and Mr. Tumble

And another rock tumbled down the hill.

It was sad to notice Vinod Kambli, cricketer, aged 42, rushed to the ICU of Lilavati Hospital after suffering a heart attack.   And once-a-prospective-legend sort of cricketer, now in near-bankrupty of life - money, friends, reputation and all self-confidence.  Three decades of roller-coaster life seems to have reached another turn.  And the author, about his age, and like many other fans of cricket, wondered how two careers having similar start, and thick friends, drifted apart in terms of the heights, quality of life, and apart, as friends.
Vinod Kambli, Nov 2013 
Just few days back,  Tendulkar, his long time friend left the game with glory and the nation mourned, at the same time thanked the legend of 200 tests and hundred international hundreds in arguably the most important sendoff in International Cricket's History.  

In his moving speech, he thanked his parents, kin, wife, kids, coach, and all his colleagues, the present and the just-retired illustrious, but he failed to mention his childhood friend. 

Even the glorious epithets of praise, unconsciously or consciously skipped mention of this short lived legacy, which played a significant in Tendulkar's initial path to greatness.
Tendulkar, Nov 2013

Some remembered him, just afterwards, and got a painful reply 'the friendship may not be there anymore'.  

And exactly two decades earlier, Kambli scored two double centuries, back to back, and was looking good for more.  While his illustrious school mate and close friend, Sachin Tendulkar yet to take off, Kambli seemed to be on a higher orbit.  

And suddenly, the graph dipped like an abyss, and before people knew, it ended - forever.  He was the fastest Indian then to score 1000 runs, and reached 200 twice and hundred 4 times in his first 8 test innings.  He played 17 test innings, and had scored 65% of his runs in just 4 innings!  

Then suddenly, his form deserted and then the selectors looked the other way.  Tendulkar might have similar rough patches, but somehow, Kambli did not find his mojo back. 

Tendulkar in the 90's built his scores, career, family and fame steadily.  By the time Tendulkar had started his steady ascent, Kambli had disappeared from the test cricket scene like a comet.  

Not long ago, Kambli was in the news, this month for not paying up his dues in his housing society. What befell this once a bright comet?  We have seen talents like Sehwag tumble, and struggling to get back the mojo that they did have in their prime.  

The things that people cite, and the author has read many commentaries about how handling success at the young age, and exposure to 'finer things' in life become cornerstones to stay in the 'talented, rich and famous' echelons of the society.  While it is not conclusive if the steady family fabric, the innate nature of a person or discipline or a cocktail of all these are the contract
Tendulkar - Kambli, schooling years

But the story stands out only because of two young cricketers, who started in the same ways at the same time, ending up in different directions - provides a stark contrast than any other in the last forty years of sport I have seen. 

We just hope that Mr. Humble, who had had been a much better frame of mind to handle success, now that he has time, and his childhood friend, Mr. Tumble, now recovering in a hospital bed, struggling to find the proverbial 'branch of life', connect back and remember those glorious early years and that might inspire Kambli to look at life with a different meaning. 

PS - the news is that Tendulkar may visit Kambli in the hospital, and this might indeed mark an era of friendship, however little.