Friday, 18 May 2012

Critics are our best friends!! - Story of Sidhu, Stroke-less wonder to palm-groove hitter

Let this blog find you blossoming to your full potential & talent.

Here is one more story from one of my favourite books “Habit of winning” by Prakash Iyer. You may find it inspiring:

From Stroke-less wonder to Palm-groove hitter: Navjot Sidhu

Navjot Singh Sidhu, former Indian cricketer perhaps better known for his witticisms on TV than his exploits on the field, tells an inspiring story. Sidhu made his debut in Test cricket against the West Indies in 1983, in three innings, he managed a high score of 20, in a painstakingly long stay of 114 minutes. The critics were trenchant and well-known cricket writer Rajan Bala (alas, now no more) famously branded Navjot the ‘strokeless wonder’ in an article in Indian Express. Not surprisingly, Sidhu was dropped soon after from the Indian Squad. And confined to the unfancied backwaters of first-class cricket in India.

Navjot was born to an affluent family, and he tells a story from his early years. His father would wake him at 5 a.m. and ask him to go for a jog. Navjot would get up and once his father was out of sight, he’d bribe his servants to let him sleep in another room. At 7 a.m., he’d wake up, splash water on his face and shirt and present himself looking all sweaty before his father. Impressed by his hard work, Sidhu Senior would encourage his sher da puttar to take some well-earned rest. And Navjot would go right back to bed!

When Sidhu was dropped from the team in 1983, after just two Tests, his father brought him the newspaper with Rajan Bala’s article and left it on his bed, without uttering a word. Young Navjot was devastated. He cut out the article and pasted on his closet. The ‘strokeless wonder’ tag would stare down at him, every waking moment.

That one article, the accusation of being a ‘strokeless wonder’, the criticism from a senior cricket writer, seemed to set off something inside Sidhu. And he was determined to prove his critics wrong. He was determined to take fresh guard and shed the tag of being a shirker. Forever. He took it upon himself to turn things around. He resolved to become a cricketer his father and his country would be proud of.

Now when his father came into Navjot’s room to wake him up at 5 a.m., he was already gone. He was out in the nets at 5 a.m., having already jogged a bit. He practiced hitting sixes and smashed the ball around, keen to become an attacking stroke player, not a strokeless wonder. His target: hit 300 sixes, every day. He still paid bribes though—not to his servants to let him sleep a few extra winks but to young lads, as an incentive to bowl at him late into the night, to allow him to complete his daily quota of 300 sixes. At the end of the day, his gloves were soaking wet, with sweat and even blood at times.

Four years is a long time to be out of the Indian team. Most players would have given up on their dream of playing again for India. Not Navjot Singh Sidhu. After four years in the wilderness, Sidhu was recalled to play for India. He was, in fact, selected to play for India in the 1987 World Cup. And what a comeback it was! In his first game, against the formidable Aussies, Sidhu scored 73 runs off 79 balls, with 5 sixes and 4 fours! He went on to score 50s in his first four One-day innings, with a strike rate of over 90.

The newspaper clipping stayed on the closet but the ‘strokeless wonder’ tag was history. Wiped out by determination. By blood, sweat and toil. Sidhu went on to play with distinction for India: over 4400 runs in 137 One-day games with average of 37.08. And yes, 44 sixes! And in his Test match career, Sidhu played 51 tests, hit 9 centuries, aggregated over 3200 runs and averaged a respectable 42.13. And the crowning glory? A certain Mr. Rajan Bala wrote about how a ‘strokeless wonder’ had become a ‘palm groove hitter’.

The next time someone criticizes you, remember you have two options. You can either sulk and give up, complaining about how unfair the world is and how your efforts go unnoticed. Or you could get back to work on your shortcomings and flaws, and emerge a winner. The choice is yours.

Rajan Bala may not have realized it but his criticism actually helped Sidhu shake off the cobwebs of complacency and become a successful cricketer. It sparked off a new determination, a new resolve. It led to long hours of practice. To 300 sixes a day. And all that blood, sweat and toil created one of India’s most attacking stroke-makers.

It worked for Sidhu. And it can work for you too.

You may not want to hear it, but your critics are often the ones telling you that they love you and care about you, and want to make you better.

Habit of winning: Prakash Iyer

How about choosing to hear your critics and being inspired?

Warm regards,


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P.S. This story was also narrated by Navjot Sidhu in a speech. Here is a link to that speech. It has 6 parts. Do watch the other 5 as well. They are also very interesting & motivating!!