Cricket – the gentleman’s game, was a sport for the aristocrats, which was one of the legacies left by the Britishers in India.
Today, it is the most followed sport in the country. Until the 2000s, the game was only slated for the elites residing in the metropolitans such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore.
However, in recent years, the game has seen a paradigm shift when it comes to contributions from smaller towns.
One of the many from unprivileged backgrounds, who went on to represent the country at the highest level is Vidarbha pacer, Umesh Yadav.
The Test specialist had his share of struggles in his bid to make it to the top-level. Until the age of 20, Umesh wasn’t aware of the leather ball as he only played with the tennis ball.
Moreover, his talent was spotted during a local T20 tournament in Nagpur, by a district-level secretary. In the match, Umesh picked up eight wickets and made his way to the ‘Top 30’ Summer Camp.
In the first day of the camp itself, Umesh pondered about quitting the sport after being questioned by the coach, regarding his footgear.
“The coach called me and asked me where my shoes were. I told him I didn’t have spikes and would have to bowl in my ordinary shoes. He became rude and offensive after that,” Umesh told Manish Batavia on Spicy Pitch.
What transpired next was the coach insulting Yadav as he did not have a spike to wear for bowling and asked him to leave.
“He said, ‘How can you come here to play if you don’t even have spikes? Kisi ko bhi bula lete hai khelne ke liye [they call just about anyone to play here]. Get lost,” recalled the express pacer.
However, nothing could stop Umesh as he soon went on to represent Delhi Daredevils (DD) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and then earned his India cap.
“Everyone has had to struggle to some extent. I would never say that my struggle is greater than everyone else’s. All I can say is that self-belief is important. If you consistently believe that you will succeed at the highest level, then you will,” concluded Umesh.