Rookie of the year award goes to Pravin Vijay Tambe



The moment has passed. That ship sailed a long time ago.

These are some of the most spirit crushing words. There is the finality of the grave in them. Whatever it is that you fancied yourself at, you will not to be able to make the cut and have to shift focus to staying alive, making a living doing something else.

You get the drift. Pravin Vijay Tambe does not. And, thank Rahul Dravid that he does not either.

In a country as cricket mad as ours, there cannot be a more heartwarming story from the sport in 2013.

Dravid, a master of the game, has spotted something in Tambe, a journeyman legspinner.

The master is 40 and owner of a legendary body of work on the cricket pitch. Tambe will turn 42 in less than two weeks and did not catch any eye — at least of those who matter in Indian cricket — prior to 2013.

The largely unknown spinner’s stupendous 4/15 hauls in 3 overs for Rajasthan Royals against the Highveld Lions in the Champions League T20 match on Wednesday was, as clichés go, a game-changer.

Dravid gave Tambe a go in the Indian Premier League in May, but apart from holding aloft the torch for those over 40 with a degree of distinction, the spinner did not set any of the three games he got on fire like he did on Wednesday at Jaipur.

His latest performance has given cricket fans a rookie of the year tale.

Tambe is now firmly in the league of Jim Morris and Vince Papale.

Baseball pitcher Morris’s rookie-of-the-year moment came at the age of 35. It has been beautifully captured in the 2002 film The Rookie.

Dennis Quaid, who played Morris in the movie, is given a bitter dose of reality by his screen father (Brian Cox) as he pursues a second coming.

The drive-a-stake-through-your-heart quote by onscreen Jim Morris Sr goes: “Your grandfather once told me it was ok to think about what you want to do until it was time to start doing what you were meant to do.”

In the end, in the movie, Morris Sr saw his son live his sporting dream.

American football player Papale too got to live his dream after starting trouble. His saga is captured in the 2006 film Invincible.

Mark Wahlberg essayed Papale, whose rookie-of-the-year moment came at the age of 30 in the rough-and-tumble sport.

Sure, there could be embellishments in films, but why get in the way of a good story.

And these sportspersons, who could not make it to the big leagues as youngsters, do exist.

They made their painful compromise with reality, but the fire still raged and sporting gods smiled on them, gave them another shot.

Tambe is similarly blessed. The Maharashtra-born cricketer who did nothing of note in domestic cricket (he could never quite make the grade and it would be interesting to know why), plied his craft for years in faraway Liverpool.

That, he did with distinction.

His amazing tale, most of it played out in relative obscurity, took me to Google. Articles abound about his spectacular bowling performances and also his ability as a handy batsman.

Wherever Tambe’s career goes from here, 2013 will forever be the year the legspinner turned his own world downside up.

As Rajasthan Royals skipper Dravid says, “It is a terrific story.”

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