Burn out



We’ve all probaby felt this at some point. Most of the time for us, it’s burn-out from work (for me it’s too frequently from cricket admin). Too much time in the office, managers expecting too much and clients thinking that your life revolves around them.

That feeling of drowning or complete emptiness and mental exhaustion. The complete lack of motivation and the inability to care any more. We all experience these things differently and express them differently too but it seemed a very uniform expression of burn out from the India Cricket team against New Zealand on Sunday at the Dubai Cricket Stadium.

It was always going to be a difficult start to the tournament. The first two games being the biggest against Pakistan and New Zealand (two of my favourite oppositions actually), I was thrilled that we were in this group! I was so looking forward to some competitive international cricket to finish off what had been an unreasonably good summer of cricket.

I had gotten myself down to Lord’s Day 1 to see a magnificent 100 from KL Rahul, followed up by one of the best day’s of cricket I had ever witnessed in my life on Day 5 as India rolled England over for 120. I was then fortunate enough to bask in the glorious sun at day 4 and 5 at the Oval as India pulled off another incredible win, spearheaded (to my surprise) by Umesh Yadav.

This was then followed up by a superb 2nd half to IPL 2021. My all-time favourite franchise cricket tournament by a country mile. Full of spectacular knocks from Venkatesh Iyer and Ruturaj Gaikwad and incredible bowling performances from Harshal Patel and Avesh Khan. It was clear that India had too much talent in their ranks.

How could they possibly lose the T20 World Cup ?!

I was sitting there so confident in my thoughts that India were the strongest contenders for the WC title. This was our time. How could it not be?! We had just beaten England in England, MS Dhoni had just pulled off a fairytale comeback win with the Chennai Super Kings after a disappointing 2020 series. It was meant to be. It was carved long ago on ancient stone that India would win the 2021 T20 Cricket World Cup and I’m 100% sure that I wasn’t the only one thinking this.

How could anyone have expected two huge losses for India? being beaten by 10 wickets as Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan cruised through to India’s target of 151 with 13 balls remaining and then being beaten by 8 wickets as Trent Boult, Ish Sodi, Daryll Mitchell and Kane Williamson, in essence, took New Zealand through to the play-offs and all but knocked India out of the running..

But maybe we should have expected it.

It was clear on the field in both games that India were not themselves. They looked tired and weary. There was no magic. The fire that we had seen earlier in the Summer in England had burnt to ash. India’s bowling attack looked blunt and their batting looked fragile. From the expression on Virat Kohli’s face as he hit the ball straight down Martin Guptil’s throat, it was clear something was very wrong.

Team India had gone straight from the quickest Test series (even I couldn’t believe the amount of space between games), straight into the IPL and then a week later into a World Cup. Now I’m not trying to make excuses for them, there were definitely other contributing factors to the losses and a lot of other international players also competed in the IPL and remained for the World Cup. But were India ever given the option to step away? What support were they given to manage all of this? Even with all of that how can we expect 100% for a team that have been on the road for 6+ months.

Even with the right support it can be hard to really step away. To truly get the break you need when the world is always watching you. This is their ‘job’ 24/7. For most of us, we get to come home everyday from work and wind down, we step away from it all, return to family and do the things we choose to do. What choice do they have? It’s either this or don’t play for India.

We expect so much from the men in blue. We put them on a pedestal and treat them as our heroes. Of course they are and always will be but they’re only human. How can we expect so much from a team that have lived and travelled the world in a tiny bubble, constantly drained by protocols and procedures there were ironically put in place to protect them.

Can you imagine the amount of mental strain on someone like Mohammad Shami? A man who has served India for so long and given everything he has for the badge to receive the abuse he did. For him to then to not be able to go home to family or friends and then out onto the field and have to perform his absolute best in a must win match. Could any of us have done it?

I’m very much looking forward to the rest of the tournament. I’m expecting some fiercely competitive play-off games and I couldn’t be more excited. I am of course disappointed that India most likely will not be there.. but maybe this will finally give them the time and freedom they need to reignite their fire.

Fearless Cricket


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I hear this phrase “fearless cricket” thrown around a lot these days. It’s been associated quite frequently with England’s brand of one day cricket these past few years… but this series and in particular these past five days, the Indian Cricket Team have given the phrase a whole new meaning.

Winning a Test match at the Australian fortress of Brisbane (the first team to beat Australia at the Gabba since 1988) with what was basically a 2nd XI team showed something few thought India were capable of. WinViz had India’s chances of winning at 1% before the first over of Day 5 had even been bowled with 0 wickets down. So what was the deciding factor in the game?

How was it that after losing the first test, being 36 a/o, losing their captain, having been plagued with injury after injury, losing the toss and fielding a team with 2 debutants and a grand total of four Test matches worth of experience in their bowling attack (if you discount Rohit Sharma’s ball), India pulled off one of the greatest wins in Test match history to secure the Border-Gavaskar Trophy for the second time in a row?

As Sachin Tendulkar so eloquantly put it: “Every session we discovered a new hero. Everytime we got hit, we stayed put & stood taller. We pushed boundaries of belief to play fearless but not careless cricket.”

They weren’t overconfident but neither were they afraid. They played with clarity, grit, purpose and most importantly courage. At no point did India look resigned to whatever ‘fate’ was in store for them. They played a brand of cricket that was unbridled by expectation and uninhibited by fear and by doing so pulled off an incredible feat.

Each and every one of those those players who took to the field for the 4th Test gave their all.

Each and every bowler shouldered their responsibility including an injured Navdeep Saini (who was fielding very gingerly) came on to bowl in the 3rd innings to support his teammates. And through their combined four Test experience managed to extract 20 Australian wickets.

Each and every one of those batters showcased why they had made it into the international side. From Shardul Thakur and Washington Sundar’s valiant assault in the second innings that rescued India from 6-186 to 7-309 to Cheteshwar Pujara’s impregnable defence and Shubman Gill’s elegant drives that set the platform up perfectly for Rishabh Pant & Co. to storm the castle in the fourth innings.

It was in the final hour of play we saw this new brand of cricket come to fruition, after a series of partnerships had taken India to within 63 runs of victory, they lost Mayank Agarwal. The burden of either pushing for a win or closing off fell on Pant and debutant Washington Sundar.

The two left-handers chose to be fearless and go for the win.. but in all honesty was it really a choice? Had they even considered it a dare to take on the challenge and risk the loss? Did it even cross their mind? Nothing we saw in that final hour was out of character for Pant and we had seen that same drive in Sundar during the second innings.

So how do you beat a man that just plays the way he plays?

How do you beat a team unburdened by consequence and fear?

It seemed Australia just couldn’t find an answer as India won by 3 wickets and recorded the highest ever run chase at the Gabba to take the series 2-1. A testament to this new brand of cricket. The beginning of a new era.

A game of chicken?


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There’s a game theory called ‘the chicken game’ which describes two players heading towards each other on a path of collision. If the players continue on the same path, they crash into each other; if one swerves out of the way and other doesn’t, the swerver “loses” and is labeled the chicken, while the second, implicitly braver player, wins.

Rahul Tewatia had every reason to swerve after being 8 runs of 19 balls chasing a monstrous 226. Had he continued the way he was going, Rajasthan Royals would have crashed and burned well short of the King’s XI total. He could have retired hurt or run down the wicket blindly in hopes of a boundary or being stumped but he kept on going, head first into the King’s XI attack.

Most players would have tapped out at this point whether out of choice or from cracking under pressure. Either taking the hit and said “It’s not my day – let someone else try” or simply from reaching a breaking point. It takes a whole lot of self belief and confidence in your own game to come back from being turned down for a single by your partner at the other end to do what he did.

Tewatia had faced 11 dot balls. Almost 2 overs of dots. A 10th of the Royal’s innings. Completely missing sweeps and reverse sweeps and putting the set batsman, Sanju Samson, under serious pressure. Samson had every right at that point to turn him down for a single as he smoked Glenn Maxwell for a six over midwicket taking 21 off the over and not letting Tewatia face a single ball.

At the end of the 15th over it was still in the balance as long as Samson was at the crease but then the game changed. Samson toe edged the ball to KL Rahul behind the stumps and everything seemed lost. A couple of boundaries from Uthappa at the end of the 16th left the required rate at 17.

51 required off 18 balls.

Cotrell to Tewatia, SIX runs… The tide began to turn… and again, SIX over square… and again, SIX over mid off… it was like watching a phoenix being reborn from the ashes. Clean hitting. Tewatia smashed 5 sixes.. the biggest over of the IPL cricket since 2016 when Virat Kohli hit 30 off Shivil Kaushik (Gujarat Lions).

He single handedly brought the required rate down from 17 to 10.10. 21 required off 12. With some assistance from Jofra Archer and Tom Curran the Royals polished off the game with 3 balls and 4 wickets to spare.

Had Tewatia taken the easy way out and given up it’s quite likely the Royal’s would have lost. Everyone had written him off including the commentators but he kept his faith in his ability to win the game. He battled through what was most likely the toughest period he’d faced in a game. He didn’t back away, he knew he had the capacity to win the game. He fought through and did just that.

Lesson? Maybe sometimes you feel it isn’t your day. Maybe sometimes a certain bowler is getting the better of you. Don’t give up. Don’t write yourself off. Don’t let yourself get away with tapping out..

Don’t swerve.

Back yourself. You know what you’re capable of.


Malcolm Gladwell theorised that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill.

A long time ago I decided to try out lacrosse. I was told when you’re shooting you don’t load up with a back swing like you do when you’re about to throw a ball. It was almost instinct for me to pull my arm back so when the time came for me to take a shot at the goal I pulled my net back and the lacrosse ball fell on my head. That was the first and LAST time I picked up a lacrosse stick.

I’m a very impatient person (it’s a work in progress). I love trying new things but also like to understand/be good at those things quickly. If things don’t come naturally to me I question whether I’ll ever be capable of doing it. Following this I should’ve given up on cricket a hell of a long time ago…

The reason I actually decided to write this piece was because of a teammate of mine – who I personally think has developed so much as a player this year. She was telling me she didn’t believe she had the capacity to reach the standard she wished to be and I remembered that feeling exactly.

So that evening I went home, sent her my stats and thought about my own development.


Nothing to rave about, I was never a natural player (I was even apprehensive about putting up my stats for everyone to see) and I have a long way to go in terms of development and reaching my personal goals but I wanted to show what self-investment, hard work and some belief can do.

I used to bowl some questionable left-arm Chinaman. I was basically in the team as a fielder, filling a spot when needed. In 2017, something changed. I started to take things more seriously, I wanted to earn my place in that team and be the best I could be. I had been playing for a long time without any real hard work or investment into my cricket and yet kept asking myself why wasn’t I good enough?! Finally I took responsibility for my own development and embarked on a new journey.

During the 2017 season, I started to invest time in myself and my training, I’d always be doing throw-downs with teammates and I started working on my fielding and fitness. After the season finished, I found a coach and began working on more technical movements. I would go home, lay my cones out on the floor and shadow bat. I hung a ball in a sock from my bedroom door frame and annoyed my family no end with the constant hammering sound of bat on ball.

2018 season came with some progress no doubt, that hard work helped me reach a new high score, I spent time at the crease, held up an end and started developing my keeping. But it wasn’t enough. As much as I was spending time doing drills I was missing something, and that’s exactly when I met the person I needed to meet to take me that step further.

On 10th July 2018 I had my first coaching session with Tom Scollay, ex-Middlesex player and founder of CricketMentoring. I’d been following his content for a while and was SO excited to train with him. Tom asked me before the session to send him a message on what I wanted to work on. I decided today to re-read what I had said to him before going… My message read something like this: “I struggle to play anything full and quick on leg”, “I open the innings and fear getting out early so I don’t play naturally”, “I feel pressure“, “I feel responsible“…. It was a recurrent theme regarding a lack of belief and confidence and it pulled through everywhere. I had spent so much time trying to hone my technical skills I had neglected everything else. My development looked something like this:


I had worked hard on my technical skill and my fitness, I was mid training for a Tough Mudder and doing everything I could to work on the physical aspect of my development but I had overlooked a huge part of my game.

From just that 1 hour with Tom I knew I had to work on the mental side of my game if I wanted to develop further. I would chastise myself every time I missed a ball or mishit, I would get annoyed with myself for getting out and therefore not play my natural gamed. I had absolutely no idea the detrimental impact that was having on my progress.

At the beginning of 2019 I left to train at the Karnataka Institute of Cricket in Bangalore, India. Monday-Friday we would do fitness 9.30-10, one-to-ones 10-11, fielding at 3 and nets from 4-6 and at the same time I started Tom’s Peak Performance Programme. A 12-week programme covering habits, fears, confidence, concentration, conscious and sub-conscious training and many other topics. I spent time working on those spokes that I had neglected for so long, building affirmations and belief in myself, thinking about my goals and breaking down those fears and negative thoughts which I had sent to Tom just a few months before. This fed into my training, I began enjoying it more, I had the confidence to go and play men’s cricket this year and score my first 50 in women’s. That confidence flowed into my captaincy and taught me to not let my fear of making mistakes run me but to let myself make them and learn from them.

Now whether Malcolm Gladwell’s theory is true or not is neither here nor there. Some things may come quite naturally to people and some may have to put in 10x the amount of work for half the results, but the concept stands. The more you invest, the more you’ll get out of it. More often than not, the only person limiting your development is yourself. If you’d asked me back in 2017 if I’d ever score 50 I would have laughed and now, I’m focusing on a new three figure target.

Self-investment is an ongoing process, you never stop learning or developing. It take’s time and effort to grow. You can’t expect miracles overnight but if you take the time to invest in yourself not just physically but mentally too, you might be surprised by what you can really achieve…


Headstone Manor Charity Six-a-side

On the 14th of September, Headstone Manor Cricket Club hosted our annual charity six-a-side fundraiser. This year we were raising funds for the Big Hug Foundation.

The day got off to a rocky start with an unexpected morning yoga class for the elderly taking place on the outfield of the main pitch. However we were soon back on track just  in time for the matches – slightly less calm than the yogis…

Six teams had entered from all parts of the UK with men and women joining forces to put on some spectacular cricket through the day. In our fifth game of the day we had our very own Rieya Patel pick up a hattrick! (In a 5 ball over no less) – setting the bar high for her debut at HMCC.

We had a BBQ managed by our resident BBQ specialists Dylan Assani and Waaris Deen with corn, chicken wings, halloumi and more burgers than we knew what to do with and with Jaymin Thakrar running the show we were well ahead of schedule so everyone got to sit together, eat and watch the toss for our showcase HMCC derby: The Tailenders v Manor’s Finest.

We couldn’t have asked for better weather and over 50 people including friends and family came down to support the teams and the cause. We were unbelievably lucky to have some delicious food provided by The Seven (which my dad is still raving about 2 weeks later), beer provided by Kingfisher and some CWC19 treats from the Bharat Army. An event like this could not be a success without the unbelievable support we received from these incredible people.


The finals took place at 5pm between Manor’s Finest and Six Fine Legs captained by Neel Patel and Saba Nasim. It was a spectacular game with Adnaan Shakur taking an award winning catch on the boundary and some controversial decisions from the umpire Bibi Dandool. The day came to a close with the home team, Manor’s Finest taking the win to end one of our best tournaments yet.

In total we raised over £2750 of which £1650  was raised on the day itself – double that of the previous year and more than any of us could have imagined…

On that note, I wanted to tell you a little about where the money is going:

Did you know 663 million people in the world live without clean water? That’s nearly 1 in 10 people worldwide.

Chamanapalli Village School in Hyderabad houses 126 children. Water from the bore well near the school is contaminated and so the children do not have access to clean drinking water during the day. The school is in an isolated area and each day the children (aged 6-11) walk several miles to fill a plastic bottle to take with them to school.

£2,038 = the cost of a water purification system for the school.

Our one day of fundraising was able to cover the entire cost of providing clean water to a school in Hyderabad. Your donations mean these children are no longer at risk of catching waterbourne diseases and can spend more time in class and less time collecting water.

BHF receipt

The additional money raised will be put towards other projects including: A nutrition project, a vocational skills project for women and many others.

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Thank you all and see you next year!

The IPL drug: RCB

I thought I’d give them the benefit of the doubt. I wanted to write an article a long time ago about the woes of RCB but I was being painfully optimistic and kept putting it off. “A line up like that can’t carry on losing… and losing… and losing.” “It’s just a bad run, all teams go through it.” Yet here we are, match 34 of 56 with a star studded RCB having played 8 games and lost 7. Yet RCB fans are high as ever, ready and rooting for the express pace of Dale Steyn. Virat Kohli has created a high like no other, one that has kept RCB fans hooked.

I spent the last three months in Bangalore and I was lucky enough to see a few RCB games. The atmosphere was like nothing I had ever seen before. I’ve been to my fair share of World Cup games, Champions Trophy games, bilateral series’ in the UAE, England, Sri Lanka and even India. I’d seen the big rivalry of India v Pakistan but this was something else. It was electric. Chinnaswamy stadium was on fire, a sea of red engulfed the stadium. It was the 7th match, Royal Challengers Bangalore v Mumbai Indians and I could see no blue. Silence fell over the Stadium as Hardik Pandya hammered a six out of the stadium. He wasn’t their man. It didn’t matter what he had done for India, he was wearing the wrong shade of blue right now.

Then came AB De Villiers. A deafening roar errupted from the ground “ABD… ABD…”, louder than any I had heard before, like a clap of thunder “ABD… ABD…”, louder than MS Dhoni walking out just a few weeks before at the same stadium during the India v Australia series. What country was I in? Had I landed back in South Africa? Every ball, every run, every boundary, every maximum was fuel being added to the fire that was Chinnaswamy. Nothing else mattered. It was like a fix.

It was entirely forgotten that only the week before, RCB had been toppled over with 10/11 players not even reaching double figures.

Next came the Kolkata Knight Riders. Match 17 of the IPL. RCB were 4 losses in and yet to get their first points on the table but still a passionate fire blazed at Chinnaswamy. This was the day. RCB batted first and the sea of red burned bright in the Stadium. A 108 run partnership between Kohli and AB and the stadium was in a state of pure ecstasy.

205 on the board. It was going to be RCB’s first win… That was until Big Muscle Russell walked out. 42 of his 13-ball 48 came off maximums. A spectacle. He bludgeoned the ball straight back over the bowler each one going further than the previous. Silence in the stadium and the fans were once again put on a spiraling comedown.

A lot of questions are surrounding RCB right now with who is running the show. Is it Virat Kohli? Is it Ashish Nehra? One thing is for certain, the RCB fans are still hooked but how long will it last?

Risk and Reward

So for the past few months I’ve been working with a coach who has really helped me a lot with my game. Funny about the timing of these things but he was just talking to me last week about how cricket is a game of risk and reward. When making your decision about what shot to play or whether to play at all, consider whether the risk of getting out is greater than the reward you could get for playing that shot. Granted most games have a certain element of this but cricket is brutal. Once you’re out, you’re out. There are no second chances as a batsman so you have to play the odds if you hope to have a long and successful career. Considering this, it is beyond me why Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft ever even considered the concept of ball tampering. Was the risk of a ban or tainted reputation worth a series win in South Africa? Was the risk of casting a shadow over the whole nation and the game itself worth a win over the #2 ranked Test team?

Steve Smith and David Warner have brought into question every game that they have ever played. Every time Mitchell Starc has taken a wicket using reverse swing can be questioned. Did they really win the Ashes without cheating? Why would Smith put his own reputation at such risk when he was considered one of the four best batsmen in the world? What exactly was worth more than the risk of not just their reputations but the monetary value of captaining IPL franchises and BBL teams potentially being stripped away?

Were the rest of the team playing dumb? Did they not wonder why the ball was suddenly reversing? Did the bowlers not question the appearance of the ball? They surely must know the difference and be able to tell if a ball has been tampered with? And if the captain and vice-captain know then why doesn’t the coach? Had he instilled such fear and unyielding drive that losing was simply not an option? Or did they really have the arrogance to believe they wouldn’t be caught?

It’s a real shame when senior and respected players like Steve Smith allow the manipulation and use of young players to alter the game. What kind of example does this set for a team? For young players hoping to make it to the national side?

Normally I like to pose a question and come out with possible answers or solutions to the problem but for the life of me I cannot understand how they thought they could get away with this with umpires regularly checking the ball and the number of cameras around the ground and one question keeps sticking in my mind, how was the risk of all this greater than the reward?

Ashes Breakdown

I’ve had enough of reading about England’s tragedies and how they’ve lost the Ashes and how ironic it was that their only hope of holding onto the urn in the driest of cities was rain.

I’m having some deja vu as I write this, I’ve written about home advantage before on multiple occasions and I stand by the premise that home teams should be allowed to prepare pitches to their advantage. It’s not as though a perfect pitch could have won the Ashes single handedly regardless of which Aussie village cricket team turned up to play England. It’s an advantage that each team has a right to. However when you hear statistics such as Australia haven’t won an Ashes in England in 16 years, it does make you wonder is it really too much of an advantage? Or are there other factors at play…

A team that have the world #3 ranked Test batsman (Joe Root), the #1 ranked Test bowler (Jimmy Anderson), the #5 ranked Test all-rounder (Mo Ali, this could have also included #3 ranked Ben Stokes had he not been busy with other ‘matters’) and yet they still can’t even compete. Yes Steve Smith may be the top ranked batsman but Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc are not even in the top five Test bowlers. England even sit two spots above Australia in the ICC Team rankings and it was only last year that Australia embarrassingly  lost 3-0 to a rebuilding Sri Lanka side. So how is it that England were steam-rolled so badly?

One of the potential factors contributing to England’s poor performance down under is everyone comes to English county cricket to benefit from our outstanding county system. With Mohammed Amir playing for Essex, Kumar Sangakkara playing for Surrey, where do the English players go? The best players in the world come to England so it doesn’t make sense to go anywhere else. They have become very accustomed to facing bowlers on their own pitches, very few of the players participate in the IPL (granted it is an entirely different game) but they don’t get much practice on the types of pitches they have been playing on in Australia.

Another of England’s biggest issues if that they have no venom in their bowling right now. They have skill, technique and quality but they are just missing that extra bite. That speed and aggression that would have come with Ben Stokes. Stokes bowls on average a similar speed to Stuart Broad but somehow has an edge that Stuart is missing (that something probably didn’t help him in Bristol but would have done wonders down under).  England suffered a double blow as Steven Finn was ruled out from injury too. Players like Tymal Mills and Liam Plunkett have really upped England’s overall average pace in T20s but they are not Test bowlers. Having Mark Wood could have also really helped England especially somewhere like the WACA however I do think it’s been a great opportunity for young players like Tom Curran to make a name for themselves..

On the topic of bowlers, Moeen Ali. This is a point in itself. Moeen Ali reminds me of the old Ravindra Jadeja. For some reason he’s kept in the team regardless of his poor performances. He will have a long run of bad scores and as a one-off hit 50 and take a fifer before going back to single figure scores and full tosses. Using the now third ranked Test bowler is not helping my case but England have persisted with him long enough. It has come to the point where they are using Dawid Malan, their number 4 batsman who is barely a part-time bowler for Middlesex games let alone for England. Malan’s economy rate at the MCG has been much better than Ali’s and since he hasn’t produced any magic with the bat why are England persisting with someone who is so ineffective. He has been unable to hold up an end or dry up the runs like Nathan Lyon and has put even more pressure on the seam bowlers (as if they didn’t have enough work on their backs).

Lastly, England seem to be struggling with their mental game more than their physical. Vince, Stoneman and Malan all relatively new/unsettled players in the top 5 or the batting order which may have contributed to Alastair Cook looking as though he would rather stay in than score runs. Joe Root seems too burdened by captaincy and his inexperienced team and the fact that Cook hadn’t looked like himself until this innings here in Melbourne (the highest score and first man to carry his bat at the MCG). Even when England had gotten themselves into good positions they wasted their opportunities just as Sri Lanka had been doing against India with Johnny Bairstow coming in too low or rash shots from Ali. It seems as though once their concentration breaks they really struggle to get back into the zone. Even this innings, had Cook not been there to steady the ship, England could have been 150 odd runs behind instead of ahead. However with Cook finding his feet it could alleviate some pressure from Root and give the team the boost they need to potentially come away with the next two wins.

Book Report #1: Wounded Tiger


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I had been looking for a new book for a while before I came across Wounded Tiger. My usual go-to reads are Dan Browns and Phillip Pullman novels. I love delving into an adventure with Robert Langdon and being absorbed by tales of mystery and secrets. For some reason however this time I felt the need for a change and followed my vacant clicks through Amazon in search for my next read.

Somehow I stumbled upon this book without realising it had been selected as Wisden’s Book of the Year 2015. The history of Pakistani cricket had always been of interest to me and somewhere along the way through these endless India v Sri Lanka matches I had dozed off. I had stopped watching games or following scores and it seemed like fate that I should come across this extraordinary tale to reignite my fire.


I was born to bleed blue. There was no question about it and regardless of ones knowledge of partition or history, being Indian instantly means that you firstly love cricket and secondly support anyone BUT Pakistan. It had been drilled into me until that fabled (because I’m sure I’ve referred to it in over 5 of my previous blog posts) 2015 World Cup quarter-final between Australia and Pakistan where I somehow found myself unwittingly supporting Wahab Riaz and the men in green. I had gotten so emotionally invested that when Rahat Ali dropped Shane Watson on 6, I felt my heart sink. Apart from India, no other sports team had ever made me feel like their loss was my loss and this stuck with me for a while. It stayed with me and on July 17th 2016 I found myself once again in unwavering support of Pakistan on day 4 at Lords at the re-birth of Mohammed Amir. As Pakistan did their push-ups and salutes I once again found myself in awe of this incredibly dogged team.

It seems to me that somehow Pakistani cricket is destined to continue even if the world were to end. From a country younger than my parents, the team have survived a journey through terrorist attacks, match-fixing scandals, the mysterious death of coach Bob Woolmer, becoming nomads and countless accusations of ball-tampering and yet somehow have also produced some of the greatest players to grace the game. I needed to know how and why.

I have managed to ramble on for 400 words without once discussing the mastery of Peter Oborne’s book. I won’t give away the story, in fact this post can hardly be called a book report. My sole purpose for writing this is to try and make you read it. (You’re more than welcome to borrow my copy, but i’ll definitely be wanting it back).

I admit it was a challenging read for me. To digest the horrors of partition, it’s impact on both countries and the game and to try and comprehend the complexities of Pakistani cricket in it’s cultural and political context. I found it difficult to try and wrap my head around the extent to which external factors and deep-rooted prejudice and condescension has continually tried to keep cricket in Pakistan down, from the Rana-Gatting incident to the kidnapping of umpire Idris Baig by the touring MCC team.

However, Peter Oborne allowed me to travel with him on a journey not just through the history of cricket but a history of Pakistan through the lens of cricket. He narrated the stories of AH Kardar and Fazal Mahmood who helped shape not only the cricket team but the nation. He charted Pakistan’s first win in England and how it was orchestrated by a man who refused to let the political and social chaos of partition stop him from playing cricket. A man who could have been killed on a train were it not for the legendary Indian CK Nayudu who protected Fazal Mahmood from Hindu fanatics with his cricket bat.


AH Kardar and Fazal Mahmood


It tells the story of how young boys were picked out of street games and thrown into an international team, of how Wasim Akram asked his captain how much money he would need to bring on tour not realising international cricketers were paid. It helps us comprehend an almost magical realism where a 12 year old plays first class cricket and a ball can be released at 100+ mph. The book wanders a bit in the middle but Wounded Tiger takes the story far beyond Imran Khan’s ‘cornered tigers’ and the heroics of the 1992 World Cup. It doesn’t just paint over the cracks or chisel out new ones, Wounded Tiger gives a full account of both glory and grievance of the team from their astounding victories to their bewildering defeats.

Wounded Tiger feels very unburdened given the extent to which Oborne covers an entire country’s past in under 600 pages. It intertwines fact with anecdotes to create a dynamic picture and continues to surprise and entice you to read just one more page. Oborne states that writing on Pakistan cricket “has sometimes fallen into the wrong hands . . . carried out by people who do not like Pakistan” and this book gives us a chance to revise how we see Pakistan through stories including that of the legendary Lala Amarnath who was born into a poor Hindu family in pre-partition Punjab and adopted by the Rana family who sponsored his cricket education in Lahore.

Unable to (with good reason) continue a straight narrative to cover such a vast history, Oborne adapts to a thematic approach to cover topics such as reverse swing, the emergence of women’s cricket, Shoaib Akhtar (aka the ‘rawalpindi express’), Misbah-ul-Haq and lastly Pakistan’s Age of Isolation. The post 9/11 era that has left Pakistan using homes from home.

This book covers it all, it delves into the introduction of the doosra, it covers the history, politics, war and geography of Pakistan, it exposes the opportunity costs of continued social ostracism from India and the terrorist attacks that have forced Pakistani cricket away from their rich and vibrant history and through a cast of heroes and villains allows us to try and better understand this nation under siege.



How Do We Pick Our Team?

The Women’s World Cup Final. Possibly one of, if not the most heartbreaking matches I have ever been to – and I’ve been to my fair share of games. It came as a shock to me just how much my heart had invested in team India and their incredible rise from the qualifiers to the ICC WWC Final. Somewhere along the way from Smriti Mandhana’s opening century against the hosts to Harmanpreet Kaur’s 171* against the reigning champs they won me (and a whole nation) over.


It’s not that I specifically supported England as I’m sure you’ve seen my bias towards the men in blue and lack of article on the Champions Trophy Final. However I knew very little of the women in blue, I had never seen them play live and as a player myself in England I had seen friends develop into fantastic cricketers through the club and county system.

Naturally I admired the dedication to the game that I saw from the England Ladies, not only from the current players in their drive to succeed but also from ex-players like Charlotte Edwards and Isa Guha who had gone on to commentate and Lydia Greenway who put her expertise into developing the next generation of players though the ‘Cricket for Girls’ Academy. These names were household names to me. I had played BUCS cricket for Nottingham University against the likes of England opener Lauren Winfield and through default came to support England.

I started writing without an end goal but whilst thinking about why I had initially leaned towards supporting England and then changed, I wondered how people pick their teams?

What reason did I have to support a country that I had only visited twice? Is it genetic? Does supporting India run in my blood? If I pricked my finger would I genuinely bleed blue? My parents support India and I am 1000% sure my children would support India.

I was lucky enough to be born to watch the fabulous five of Indian cricket. A golden era of batting which included ‘The Little Master’ and ‘The Wall’.  A legacy that will live on forever and players that will be talked about from generation to generation. I felt part of that legacy. The same must have applied for those who lived through the magnificent swing duo or Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis or the unyielding West Indies pace quartet.


But what if someone didn’t have that connection to a team as I initially didn’t with the Indian ladies before the Women’s World Cup?

I started thinking about my second favourite team and when India weren’t playing what reasons I had for supporting one team over another. Up until two years ago it was Sri Lanka over everyone else and one man in particular was the reason. The man with 12,400 Test runs to his name and over 14,000 ODI runs. Kumar Sangakkara. The man I, and it appears also Smriti Mandhana, idolise. A pleasure to watch at the crease he makes batting look like second nature. As if it came as naturally to him as breathing. His cover drives flowed seamlessly as if they were a part of him. Since his retirement (and Mahela Jayawardenas) I found myself supporting South Africa and in particular AB de Villiers.


During the 2015 ICC World Cup Final at the MCG I found myself faced with two teams who I neither supported nor identified with and immediately found myself rooting for the underdogs, New Zealand. I had hoped for India to make it to that final as I had flown out to watch it but it wasn’t meant to be. New Zealand were coming in off the back of a game that was fit to be a final. Had the tournament ended after that emotional New Zealand v South Africa semi-final I couldn’t have argued. Both teams had poured their heart and soul into the game and you couldn’t have asked for a better game and for that reason I was rooting for them to win. Plus I always find myself rooting against the Aussies anyway. Maybe I am part British after all.

In simple terms, there’s no science behind it, no genes, no picking the best team by stats it’s a purely emotional decision and one that I only made a few weeks back for the women in blue, the under dogs led by the incredible Mithali Raj, but one that will last a lifetime.