Test specialist Murali Vijay revealed that he was a wild spirit in his early days and wandered from place to place in order to discover himself and his needs in life. The 33-year old further shared the struggles he went through in life before getting his big break in Tests.
Murali Vijay has cemented his place in the Indian Test team as an opener scoring 3408 runs in 87 innings at an average of 39.62 with his highest score being 167. The Tamil Nadu batsman made his Test debut against Australia in 2008 and since then has become a regular in the Indian Test team playing at home or away.
However, the grit, passion and focus the right-hander projects while batting wasn't always there, as he himself revealed.
"If you set a wild dog into the open, it will run to search for its freedom. It was like that for me. I wanted to find myself, what I was made of, what I wanted in life. There are things bigger than money, sleep, and protection. I could survive anywhere," Vijay told The Hindu on being questioned about his early life.
Vijay had developed a liking for the game of cricket since an early age and that resulted in him disliking the concept of education.
"I did not understand the logic of education at that time, the value of learning history or geography at the age of nine. A lot of students studying with me got 99 per cent or 98 per cent marks. I was amazed by that. My mind was always on the ground outside the walls of the classroom. I first started playing cricket when I was nine."
The same pattern continued as Vijay failed 12th and left home to discover himself.
"I did not get through my 12th. I failed. I told my parents that I would not stay in the house. I wanted to discover myself. Nothing was going my way. My father wanted me to have at least basic education, get some of my priorities right. I could understand that anxiety, but it was difficult for me to change my thinking. I left home. I had great friends, but I stayed alone. I used to sleep in the parks. All my friends were my family, they took me as the extra kid. That was a tough period. I had one year to write 12th again, didn’t have anything else to do. Everybody else went to college, I didn’t. It was a very bad feeling."
The setback started to hamper Vijay's thinking but he finally found a way through to thinking clearly.
"There was some anger within me. There was this school thing. I was very temperamental at that time. I used to curse myself, be very hard on myself. I was aggressive and moody. If somebody told me I needed to be like this or that, I never respected that. For me, I was finding my way. Some thought I was arrogant. I still cannot express my feelings totally. I am learning. To tell people how much I love them is very difficult for my nature. I finally had to look inwards to control my temper, to find peace."
The Tamil Nadu batsman revealed that his early days as a cricketer weren't easy either as he had to struggle to make it to the U-19 side in spite of his dazzling performances but a word of advice from former Indian cricketing legend Bharat Reddy did him a world of good.
"I did not get through the under-16 level. And I did not get picked in under-19 in the first year. It was all going haywire. I joined Chemplast [which runs the Jolly Rovers Cricket Club] when I was 20. Four years of college at Vivekananda was great for me because I enjoyed cricket like never before. If you play from your heart, it will take you to the right people. Chemplast was also the right place for me. The Tamil Nadu break was a Himalayan task because I couldn’t find a reason why they didn’t want me. I was doing everything from my side, performing. There were a lot of questions about my attitude, the way I carried myself. All that mattered was talent and performance.
"That was not seen by the so-called selectors and others. All that was seen was what I was wearing. Bharat Reddy sir [former India stumper and a guiding light at Chemplast] told me how I should conduct myself and that helped."
When questioned about the thoughts that harboured his mind when the news of his selection in the Indian Test side was broken to him for the first time, he replied,"I was travelling from Nasik to Mumbai after a Ranji game. There were flashes of several images before my mind’s eye after the news broke. A lot of calls were coming. I was not in a state of mind to attend any. It was me and my own self flying in the car."
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