Ravi Yadav's rise from a nobody to a unique achiever

Ravi Yadav's rise from a nobody to a unique achiever

Ravi Yadav

“Mein kuch aisa karunga ki log dekhenge (I will do something that people would notice)” is what Ravi Yadav told a friend over the phone when he caught wind of his first-class debut for Madhya Pradesh. 

What prompted the line was a decade of waiting without anything to show for. He blamed the system of cricket in Uttar Pradesh - he was born in Firozabad before moving to MP six years ago - for slipping through the cracks, and now he was playing against them. Poetic justice, and it was about to get better. 

The 28-year-old left-arm seamer did get the chance on January 27 and he picked up a hat-trick in the very first over of his first-class career to achieve what no man before had. A just reward for someone who spent the better part of his life being made to feel like he was worth nothing.  

“When I was in sixth class, my dad owned a small bricks factory,” says Yadav who is part of the MP side playing against Karnataka in the Ranji Trophy match here. "Then things turned so bad for him that in the very same bricks factory, which he used to own, he had to work as an accountant for Rs 2000 to run the family. 

“He owned a building material shop later and a bangles store after. I used to sit there during my summer holidays. I felt quite bad because all my classmates were enjoying themselves while I had to sit and work. I used to think that I had to do something different. All the guys in my class have good jobs. People used to meet but they didn’t speak (to me). They used to think I am just a loafer.”

If these sparse social exchanges weren’t enough to incite insecurity, the snub by UP selectors despite doing well in age-group cricket, made matters worse. To top it all, he had turned down an offer from Railways. "Friends who I played cricket with told me that the job at Railways wasn’t all it’s made out to be. People normally want that job security but I wasn’t for it. I wanted to give cricket my everything,” he says. 

The problem with passion without experienced hands to mould it is - besides the intangibles - injuries. Ravi faced the brunt of that between 2010 and 2014. He then decided to take his talents to a ‘more fair’ MP. He moved without stability on the horizon, and the stigma of a troubled childhood burdening him still. 

“I didn’t have money for rent. The ground I used to practice on was around 6 kms from the house. I had a bike but I didn’t even have money to fix a puncture. I used to fill petrol with loose change. When the bike got punctured, I would walk… upaarwale ka saath raha hamesha,” he says.  

“I haven’t been taking money from the people at home for a long time because I would feel bad. When I would go home, I couldn’t make eye contact with them. They wanted me to be secure in life but when they used to look at me, I would feel I am a failure. When they were home and awake, I wouldn’t go home. I would stand in the gully and wait.”

“I didn’t have friends also with me because they either had jobs or had families to take care of. I used to spend all this time alone,” he adds. 

At this point, he breaks down. A memory of the struggle returns. “Many people told me I wasn’t capable. The common mindset is that cricket is for the elite and for people who have influence. I can safely say that talent trumps all that. Over 22 yards, only your talent will show up,” he says with tears still dribbling down.  

It did once again against Karnataka in the first innings where he picked up three wickets. “I have to show the world that I have it in me. I don’t want to stop here, I want to go further. For ten years, I didn’t want to just play Ranji Trophy. I am too ambitious for that. I wanted to do something bigger. I am hungry.”

All this while, the human in the cricketer remained on display, and it was as beautiful as it was rare. 

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