Mohammed Shami: An inspirational psychology curriculum for generations

The right arm pacer has gone through immense pain to reach where he is right now, a place that he so rightfully deserves.

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Mohammed Shami
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Mohammed Shami. (Photo Source: X(Twitter)

“I bear the wounds of all the battles I avoided,” wrote the famous Portuguese poet and writer in his book ‘The Book of Disquiet”. The veteran Indian pacer Mohammed Shami has lived up to this psyche for a lot of years in his life full of struggles and tough times on every step. Yeah, we are praising Shami’s sensational bowling and his five-wicket hauls or four-wicket hauls, but behind it, there was something which everyone could not see. 

People didn’t miss Shami, which is somewhere the harsh truth explained in Philip Kottler’s famous marketing quote, “Markets always change faster than marketing,” which applies to all walks of life. Coming back to the point, it took a lot for him to be the Mohammed Shami of 2023 from grappling with the Mohammed Shami of a couple of years back, who was going through the questions even on his mere existence.

Let me take you a few decades back in the Amroha district in India’s state of Uttar Pradesh; when a cricket enthusiast, Tauseef Khan, who once dreamt of playing as a pace bowler for India, invested his 15 years to train his son to become a bowler. When his son turned 15, Tauseef took him to coach Badruddin in Moradabad for further training.

Amroha to Bengal Ranji Team – A fate-inflicted scrambling journey  

The 15-year-old boy went on to put in all his blood and sweat to learn the art of reverse swing with the used old balls. Furthermore, when his coach sensed that the state of Uttar Pradesh would waste another talent in the form of this young boy; cut to the next shot of life, following the coach’s suggestion, the Amroha boy came to Kolkata where he joined the club and his hard work made him noticed in the eyes of former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly, who was impressed after he played his balls in the nets.

In the same line of developments, Ganguly’s recommendation worked and Tauseef Khan’s son was now an individual identity in himself as star pacer Mohammed Shami, who started playing in role of a key pacer for the Bengal Ranji Team.

But that was not done for young Shami who was eyeing to brighten his future with Team India. Fate had planned a complete package of tough times for him to bring up a lethal fighter from a down-and-out man who lost all hopes. Losing his father, the match-fixing allegations and a lot of other horrific allegations from his life partner, a divorce, enduring a life-threatening accident, suicidal depression, hate from the social media trolls and whatnot. All these battles were thrown by life only at one individual, which he always wanted to avoid but he was pushed by life to bear the wounds of all these battles, now you might recall the motive of quoting Fernando Pessoa in the beginning. 

The rise of a warrior after enduring the agonies of life

Mohammad Shami and Hasin Jahan.
Mohammad Shami and Hasin Jahan. (Photo Source: Twitter)

One would’ve been broken easily under the burden of these many hardships, but the fighter was yet to be born as Shami chose to stand up against all these odds of life. But still, things don’t end just at the moment when we choose to stand straight, there comes the time when our depth is yet to go through a big test and similar went on with Shami.

How can we forget that day of June 22 in Southampton four year back in the year 2019, when India were on the verge of facing an embarrassing loss against a lower-ranked team like Afghanistan in the ODI World Cup 2019 as the latter required 16 runs in the last over. They had star player Mohammed Nabi there in the middle, with three wickets remaining.

Indian skipper Virat Kohli opted to go with Mohammed Shami as he was the only bowler who had one over remaining in his quota. Shami tried a yorker against Nabi on the first ball but ended up missing the length and the latter made no mistake in drilling it down the ground for four to complete his half-century and taking his side a bit closer.

The next ball was a dot ball but then came something which announced the return of a wounded lion; Shami scalped three consecutive wickets in the next three balls to complete his historic hat-trick in a style and ensured India’s 11-run win in this thrilling encounter. The value of that day is completely different in Shami’s life as it is not everyone’s cup of tea to grapple with life and stand again to become only the second Indian bowler to claim a hat-trick in an ODI World Cup after Chetan Sharma, in 1987. For the unversed, there’s also an interesting fact that Shami didn’t get the ‘Player of the Match award in this match against Afghanistan even after claiming 4 wickets but still, someone was noting all this.

From getting ignored to becoming India’s ODI World Cup legend

Mohammed Shami.
Mohammed Shami. (Photo Source: Pankaj Nangia/Getty Images)

Cut to the ongoing edition of the prestigious cricket quadrennial, he was picked in the 15-member primary squad of India for the ODI World Cup 2023 but had to wait for his chance on the bench for the first four matches of the team. But as they say ‘life has different plans for everyone, and someone’s disappointment could be an opportunity for another’. People saw it as Hardik Pandya’s injury and concern for Team India but on the other hand, it was the payback time of life to give what it took from Mohammed Shami over the years.

The stage was set between two unbeaten teams of the ODI World Cup 2023, India and New Zealand; both teams came up with 4 consecutive wins in the matches, they played by then. Pandya’s injury-forced inclusion made the Indian management and skipper Rohit Sharma come up with two changes, including Suryakumar Yadav in place of Hardik Pandya and Mohammed Shami to replace Shardul Thakur.

The way Shami performed in his first appearance in the current edition of the ODI World Cup, against New Zealand seemed like it was written on the walls. He claimed an amazing five-wicket haul to let the management think twice before benching him again. The Amroha express didn’t stop there, he continued his brilliance against the defending champions England and claimed a four-fer to increase his numbers to 9 wickets in just 2 matches.

Furthermore, there came a day on November 2 against Sri Lanka at the Wankhede Stadium when destiny was waiting to write Shami’s name in the golden letters. The 33-year-old comeback sensation scalped another five-wicket haul and became India’s leading wicket-taker in the history of the ODI World Cup in just 14 innings, surpassing the former legends Zaheer Khan and Javagal Srinath, who achieved this feat in 34 and 23 innings, respectively.

In a nutshell, the journey of Mohammed Shami is no less than an inspiration; it would inspire the next generations to not give up even when everything is going against mere ‘existence’. It would not be shocking to see if his entire fightback will be a big element to teach in the psychology curriculums and to be discussed among thinkers or philosophers as a case study to motivate oneself to stand against all the battles of life with a smile and coming back with a firm determination and will.

The streets of Amroha and Uttar Pradesh are regretting losing you, Shami; they’re in wait to end the agony of those footmarks of the boy who left them in his teenage, by compensating with the arrival of the legend they failed to own.  

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