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5 players who became cricketers against their families’ wish

These players defied odds to write their own destiny.

Fakhar Zaman
Fakhar Zaman. (Photo Source: Twitter)

The people who have had the privilege to really understand how great a sport cricket is, have never fallen out of love for the game. The ones who haven’t played the sport on a professional level have often bunked classes to play around at what we call “Gully Cricket”. Or at least the fans have made their parents furious by watching cricket instead of studying for exams. And some had the privilege of watching the game with their parents, because who isn’t a cricket fan in India?

Everyone who has played cricket has loved the sport with all devotion and never treated it like a job but something they do for love. There’s money in cricket today, but even decades back people pursued the sport for the love they have for it and didn’t care about the gains. We have strange stories like Axar Patel’s who confessed that he didn’t want to be a cricketer.

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While he aspired to be an engineer, his dad wanted him to play cricket. But that’s a rare scenario. Often parents want their children to study harder and excel at academics and there’s little room for sports left. Some players have faced opposition from their families and yet made it big in cricket against all odds.

Here are five such cricketers who went against their families’ will to pursue a career in the sport:

1. Murali Vijay

Murali Vijay
Murali Vijay. (Photo Source: Twitter)

At 17 years old, Murali Vijay would be sharing a small room with two other people at a hotel in Chennai, living on his own and working at a snooker parlour. A terrible student whose father once suggested he consider the job of a peon, Vijay flunked his board examinations. Not to be deterred, the Tamil Nadu opener decided to leave home for 6 months to get experience and follow his dreams of becoming an international cricketer, a career choice which his parents were not particularly fond of.

However, Vijay’s confidence and ability to back himself saw him not only see out that tough time of his life, but pursue his chosen career with aplomb. Vijay eventually got selected for the Indian Test squad, scoring almost 4000 runs from 60 Tests.

A stylish left-hander, the opener’s life could well have been different and far less spectacular had he stuck to his parents’ wishes and never spent those 6 months sleeping on the floor of the Deluxe Hotel.

2. Manpreet Gony 

Manpreet Gony
Manpreet Gony. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Considered one of the earliest successes of the IPL, Manpreet Gony’s star rose in 2008, as he finished as the highest wicket-taker of the season for Chennai Super Kings, led by the India captain MS Dhoni. Bowling with pace and aggression Gony caught the eye of everyone and was soon enough representing India on the Asia Cup.

However, Gony’s personal life has bee a tumultuous one, suffering divorce, losing a still-born, and a strained relationship with his parents. Gony’s parents had shut the door on him when he chose to marry the girl he loved before the IPL came around. Even before that, they objected to his choice of career as cricket was not seen to be a secure career choice with a huge risk if it did not pay off.

Gony, though, stuck to his guns, and soon got his chance in the IPL. The India selection soon followed, however, Gony struggled to keep up after his golden run of form, and fell off the radar of the Indian team. He finished career with 96 wickets in 90 T20 games, and 2 ODI appearances for the national team.

4. Fakhar Zaman

Fakhar Zaman
Fakhar Zaman. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Left-handed Pakistani opener Fakhar Zaman is known as “fauji” among his teammates, This is due to Fakhar being a former Pakistani Navy sailor, a career choice encouraged by his father, who was dissuaded by his son’s eagerness to cricket. Fakhar’s father felt that his son’s childhood obsession with the sport was misplaced, and wanted him to concentrate on academics, eventually sending him to Karachi for finishing school and subsequently joining the Navy.

However, young Fakhar’s addiction to the sport remained unwavering. He made a “tough decision” at the age of 22 in 2013, when he listened to his navy coach and gave up his naval career for one in professional cricket. He started representing local outfits, and garnered reputation after finishing as one of the top scorers in the Pakistan Cup, Quaid-e-Azam trophy and eventually the Pakistan Super League, which opened the door for him to represent Pakistan internationally.

In hindsight, Fakhar’s decision to quit the Navy has paid off extremely well. He currently represents Pakistan in all three formats and is a part of the World Cup 2019 squad. It is in ODIs that Fakhar has shone the brightest, scoring 1700 runs in 38 games at an average of 50, including a double century, and an MoM performance in the 2017 Champions Trophy final against arch-rivals India.

3. Habibul Bashar

Habibul Bashar
Habibul Bashar. (Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images)

Former Bangladesh captain Habibul Bashar is regarded as one of his nation’s greatest all-time batsmen and a true pioneer of the sport in his country. It is under his captaincy that Bangladesh secured their first Test victory over Zimbabwe in 2004, as well as limited-overs successes against India, Australia, South Africa and Sri Lanka, ushering in the new age of Bangladeshi cricket wherein they can no longer be treated as minnows.

However, things could have been very different for Bashar. Back when he started playing cricket, Bangladesh did not have Test status, and cricket was never looked at as a possible career choice. Similarly, his parents too wanted him to continue studies and not look at cricket as a career. However, Bashar’s love for cricket won in the end as he managed to stick with the sport and also got the chance to represent his nation.

Over the course of his career, Bashar scored 3000 Test and 2000 ODI runs and was a crucial member of the first-ever Bangladesh Test team in 2000. Bashar’s skilful batting and adept captaincy made him a household name, especially in his home country.

5. Darren Sammy 

Darren Sammy
Darren Sammy. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Former West Indies captain Darren Sammy was the first St. Lucian player to represent the West Indies in international cricket. However, Sammy’s foray into international cricket would never have happened if he had listened to the wishes of his mother.

A devout Christian, Sammy’s mother would take him to church every Saturday, which was the day of sabbath for the church they prayed at. Naturally, this would clash against Sammy’s cricket matches which he would complain about. However, his mother would be reluctant to compromise, as St. Lucia had never produced a player at the international level till then. 

Years down the line, he’s the only two time World T20 winning captain. His speech from WT20 2016 Final still gives goosebumps to fans around the world. Quoting an excerpt from it: “We started this journey … we all know we had … people were wondering whether we would play this tournament. We had a lot of issues, we felt disrespected by our board, Mark Nicholas described our team as a team with no brains. All these things before the tournament just brought this team together.”

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