Title: Mind and Matter: A Life in Math and Football
Authors: John Urschel and Louisa Thomas
Publisher: Penguin Press, New York, 2019
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Mind and Matter Summary
This book is a goldmine for people who like mathematics, college football, sports, and reading in general.
For the mathematician, there are mentions of John von Neumann, Pascal, Fermat, Heisenberg, Bernoulli, Schrodinger, Kolmogorov, Leibniz, Newton, Godel, G.H. Hardy, Einstein and brief dives into the topics of probability, dynamical systems, Markov Chains, physics, measure theory, gambling, game theory, linear algebra, numerical analysis, set theory, and logic. For the football fan, there are references to locker room talks, deep friendships, training drills, college football season, tryouts, the NFL draft, CTE, concussions, injuries, and more.
Urschel reflects on the constant internal push and pull between doing mathematics and playing football. We learn how he developed these interests and navigated both spheres of his life without losing proficiency in either one. He ended up playing at the highest level in NFL with the Baltimore Ravens and completed his PhD in mathematics from MIT, specializing in linear algebra, graph theory, and numerical analysis. We also learn about important events that occurred during his education like the Jerry Sandusky scandal and how it impacted the Penn State community.
Two aspects that I really enjoyed were how (1) the writing style matched (2) the content of the book. The book seamlessly alternates between football and mathematics at different stages of his life. For example, he talks about Concussion in one chapter and moves on to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty principle in the next. The length of each chapter ranges from 4-15 pages, making it an accessible read.
I definitely recommend Mind and Matter for all ages looking to pick up a short, fun, and inspirational book.
Quotes from “Mind and Matter: A Life in Math and Football”: 5 Life Lessons We Can Learn from John Urschel
Let’s start with a little back story. My family gifted me this book on my birthday.
In my undergraduate years studying mathematics, Urschel’s poster hung outside the math department. For four years, I walked by it, the image slowly getting ingrained in the deep echelons of my memory. I always smiled when I saw it but did not give it much deep thought.
However, over the years, I have often been conflicted and never really come to terms with balancing my own interests, whether that is as a mathematician, sports enthusiast, programmer, teacher, writer, or as a violinist.
I am glad to have finally received the opportunity to read this book, which breathed life into Urschel’s poster and provided me with some topics of reflection. The perfect gift.
In any case, here are a few quotes and life lessons that stuck with me from John Urschel’s life.
1. “So often, people want to divide the world into two. Matter and energy. Wave and particle. Athlete and mathematician. Why can’t something (or someone) be both?”
At some point in our childhood, we have all been asked the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Humans are multi-dimensional creatures. Kids especially are innately curious and are fascinated by different sort of things like solving puzzles, running around, reading a book, etc.
But as we grow up, there is the societal narrative to pick a field, choose a profession, and sacrifice interests that will not result in monetary gain later on.
Life Lesson 1: You can be a jack of many trades. You can be a master of one. Life is about choices and there really isn’t a right or wrong way. You can go the route of John Urschel, Justin Timberlake, Albert Einstein, Farhan Akhtar, Elon Musk or the way of Michael Phelps, Sachin Tendulkar, and John Nash. Be curious, be yourself. Why limit yourself to one sky when you can explore many galaxies?
2. “Nothing made me want to take that class more than being told that I couldn’t do it. That was my nature. If someone thought I wasn’t up for something, then I had to show them wrong.”
The only way to reach the peak is to overcome the struggle.
Stressing is bad, but struggling can be good.
Life Lesson 2: Challenges can be daunting, but they have the potential to mold you into the person you want to become. Take the extrinsic negative noise and convert it into positive intrinsic motivation. A ‘can do’ attitude is the way to go.
3. “I decided to stay. I did not know what would happen to the football team… But I loved Penn State, and I loved my teammates. I wasn’t going to walk away.”
I’ll jump directly into the life lesson on this one.
Life Lesson 3: Friendships and relationships are often the strongest bonds and the easiest ones to break. When someone close to you is in need, be there for them. Make time for your loved ones regardless of how busy you are. Send a quick text or give them a call.
4. “I wanted challenges. I liked the feeling of being tested—even if I disliked the tests we took at school.” Improvement did not always come easily. It took work. But there was nothing like realizing that what had seemed hard before now seemed easier, or that what I had done badly before I could now do well. Solving problems like the Einstein puzzle gave me satisfaction and clarity I rarely felt anywhere else. It gave me a sense of purpose. It gave me a sense of power.”
Similar to #2 but with a slight distinction.
Challenges are a common theme in Urschel’s journey, but here he stresses that these challenges came from within. Hence, overcoming them was more satisfying.
Life Lesson 4: If you do things that you enjoy, then even the greatest of challenges become child’s play.
5. “He was struck by the diligence and determination that brought to the work—or make me want to work even harder. ‘It is fascinating to see your progress and enthusiasm..'”
And finally, whatever you do, do it with a smile!
Life Lesson 5: Hardwork is good, but do you know what is even better? Hardwork plus enthusiasm.If you work with a smile, this will provide positive energy to those around you. A win-win situation.
“Football helped my math career in a number of ways. In football, you’re constantly being challenged, every single day. You’re being knocked down and you have to get up, constantly fight back. Build this sense of resiliency. That has helped me in my math, the resiliency. Even when I try 99 things and I fail, I still try the 100th time. Stay curious.
“Math certainly defines football. Football is a game of numbers, and this governed by math. The physics going on, the forces, the momentums, the passes, the kicks, the catches, this is all mathematics….Every football player is just like a math formula in a way…My quantitative thinking is what helps me see what [the opposition does] and immediately know what I’m supposed to do.”
“The biggest similarity is intuition. In mathematics, intuition is a really strong thing that can help you. In football, you need instincts to make split second decisions.”
And finally, I am going to leave you with this one really cool fact: He wears #64 on the field, “a perfect square and perfect cube. A true mathematician’s number.”
John Urschel is famous for simultaneously pursuing professional careers in football and mathematics. He went to the highest level with the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL an became a professor of mathematics.
How did John Urschel Contribute to Mathematics?
John Urschel’s contributions have been in spectral graph theory, linear algebra, and numerical analysis among others. The Spectral Bisection of Graphs and Connectedness is one of his searly significant mathematical contributions.
Why did John Urschel Retire?
John Urschel retired because he wanted to focus on mathematics full-time and give time to his daughter and family. There was also an additional layer of concern with concussion he had suffered earlier.
What lessons can we learn from Sachin Tendulkar’s life?
Today is a day of great reflection because today we celebrate the 50th birthday of the great Sachin Tendulkar.
Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, SRT, or the ‘God of Cricket’—regardless of how you referred to him, for most cricket fans between 1989 and 2013—the love of cricket coincided with the love of Sachin. He represented hope, excellence, and discipline for billions of people around the world.
Let’s reflect back on those 24 precious years and see what we can learn from Sachin Tendulkar’s life. Or at least here is what Sachin Tendulkar taught me.
7 Lessons We Can All Learn from Sachin Tendulkar’s Life
1. We Must Accept Finite Disappointment, but Never Lose Infinite Hope
Quote By: Martin Luther King Jr.
After Kapil Dev & his men lifted the 1983 Cricket World Cup trophy, playing cricket for India and lifting the World Cup became a dream for every schoolboy. Sachin was no different. Fast forward three years into his career, he was selected for the 1992 ODI World Cup.
First time, no luck. Then, 1996 semi-final happened. Sachin Tendulkar stumped. Eden Gardens stunned. India collapse—A common sight in the nineties. It was followed by 1999 hardships & disappointment, 2003 (Final – so close, yet so far), and last, but certainly not the least, the 2007 Cricket World Cup. India crashed out in the group stage. It seemed to be curtains on Sachin Tendulkar’s lifelong dream.
Life Lesson 1: Disappointments are a part and parcel of life. The important thing is to never lose sight of the hope, dream, or end goal you have deep down. If you persevere and keep at it, who knows, maybe one day that dream may come true.
Quote By: Late American basketball legend Kobe Bryant (and quote from his English teacher, Mr. Fisk) while accepting the ESPY ICON AWARD
This speech is so beautiful, it is worth writing it in full here.
Just like Kobe Bryant and other legendary sports stars around the world, Tendulkar had to work hard for it.
Sachin Tendulkar was definitely a gifted a cricketer, but that alone did not make him great. Sure, he had natural timing and great hand-eye coordination, but he still had to put in the hard yards. Hours and hours in the nets, days and days in the Bombay Maidans under the sun, honing his technique slowly but surely. One day at a time, he got better. And he just never stopped.
Life Lesson 2: What differentiates excellence from just adequate performance is the work ethic. To achieve greatness in any field, the end result is directly proportional to the amount of work you put in.
3. The Price of Anything is the Amount of Life You Exchange For It
Quote by: Henry David Thoreau, American philosopher and writer
From an outsider’s point of view, Sachin Tendulkar was a superstar and public figure. But this definitely came at a cost. Staying away from family for the better portion of two decades, always being under media pressure, recovering from career threatening injuries, and maintaining international level fitness would not have been easy.
Life Lesson 3: Sacrifice.Whether that is time, family, plans with friends, delicious food, sacrifice in some extent is necessary to progress to the next level.
4. Sometimes It is the People No One Can Imagine of who do the Things No One Can Imagine
Quote By: Alan Turing, Father of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence
Who would have thought that a 5-foot four schoolboy from Mumbai become the first ODI double centurion, go on to score hundred 100s, and become the idol that would inspire a nation of a billion?And even after he debuted for India, not many could have imagined the scale at which Tendulkar was able to conquer the cricketing world. There have been many 16- & 17-year-old debutants in cricket, but none like Sachin.
Life Lesson 4: If you can put your mind to it and imagine the impossible, you can achieve the impossible. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you that cannot do something.
5. Only Those Who Will Risk Going Too Far Can Possibly Find Out How Far One Can Go
Quote By: T.S. Eliot, American Poet
Tendulkar did not stop until he reached the height of individual excellence. Sunil Gavaskar, the original ‘Little Master’ had set the bar with 10,000 Test runs and 34 Test centuries. How far would Sachin go? 35? 50? Once he got past, he did not stop. 34,347 runs across formats, scoring hundred 100s and 164 fifties, he finally hung up his boots. But by the time he was done, he had expanded the horizons of what batting excellence looks like.
Life Lesson 5: Beware of complacency. Take some risks. How far can you push the barriers in your profession?
Sachin Tendulkar had the weight of a nation’s expectations but never showed it. He always carried himself with grace and did not let the public know about the stress and mental pressure he must have been going through. That, my friends, is courage.
Life Lesson 6:It is more important how you carry yourself rather than what you achieve.
7. Without Continual Growth and Progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.
Quote By: Benjamin Franklin, American writer, thinker, politician, scientist, diplomat, printer, publisher, everything.
With such a long career, ups and downs are bound to occur.Teams figured out some of his weaknesses, injuries occurred, and so did prolonged loss of form. What mattered was that Sachin continued to reinvent himself and bring out a new version to overcome certain obstacles. Prime examples are the 241* in Sydney when he famously gave up the cover drive & the second wind in 2010 (at the age of 37, he dominated the South African bowling attack, scored double centuries, and looked fluent as ever).
Life Lesson 7: Keep the curiosity alive and continue to learn. You can only make substantial progress if you struggle initially, experiment with possible solutions, and ultimately overcome the challenges. Lather, rinse, and repeat.
Sacrifice, patience, longevity, work ethic, reinvention, curiosity, grace. The list goes on. We can learn so much from Sachin Tendulkar, a cool head on broad shoulders that taught a country how to excel, win, and most importantly, dream.
What life lesson has Sachin instilled in you? What has he meant to you?
Other Articles on Cricket, Philosophy, and Life Lessons
If you liked this article, be sure to check these articles below on Cricket Life Lessons:
This is going to be a different sort of article — No World T20 match reviews, not dissecting India’s disaster or praising Namibia’s story, no analysis or stats either, and surprisingly, not even any predictions. Just pure reflection with a hint of philosophy.
91 years after Don Bradman hit his first out of 12 Test double centuries, I finally have my first double as a writer. How did I get here? Why did I start this journey? What have I learned?
To give this article a twist, the theme of this article will rally around the lyrics of some pieces of music. I would highly encourage you to click on the song and give them a listen as well.
“It means no worries for the rest of your days. It’s our problem-free philosophy…
Situation: Finally starting this blog and website after England Vs West Indies 1st Test as cricket resumed post-COVID
What Is My Story?
I have been watching cricket for my whole existence, ever since the 2003 Cricket World Cup. My close ones tell me that I used to memorize the line ups of all the teams, from Australia to Zimbabwe, dragged my plastic bat around the house, and tried to copy actions of bowlers like Brett Lee, Harbhajan Singh, and Anil Kumble and the strokes of batters like Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Sanath Jayasuriya, Rahul Dravid, and Mohammad Yousuf.
Not much has changed 18 years later. From Afghanistan to Papua New Guinea, I still memorize players’ names, follow most cricket, play cricket casually with my brother and friends, and try to copy mystery spinners like Ajantha Mendis and Theekshana (since Rashid Khan is too hard to emulate). Moreover, I now go into in-depth analysis before the game, after game, read articles on Cricinfo, watch CricBuzz Live, crunch up the numbers, and more.
You can say that I am obsessed with cricket. Not much has changed all these years…except that I talk a lot more now.
I was told I should start writing about cricket but for years, I never took that action. However, after Jason Holder & a hobbling Campbell secured a victory after Jermaine Blackwood’s counterattack, I was filled with emotion. In that moment, I realized what we had all missed during the sports break. A few minutes later, I began my journey as a cricket writer.
Life Lesson #1
From that moment, I changed my working philosophy—If you have any idea, take the action. Do not just play scenarios in your head or think what others would think of you or how you would be judged. Take your destiny in your own hands, channel your inner Timon & Pumba, and live a problem-free life just as you want.
Situation: Cricket writing fulfilled a life long dream
What Was My Underlying Motivation?
Once this website opened, the natural question was what it going to be called? What was my motivation? Here is the story.
I dreamed of becoming a cricketer, as did billions of people around the globe. Staying till the end, winning matches for your team are moments I would visualize and imagine.
I finally got my opportunity and began playing school level cricket way back in third and fourth grades. A few months later, our school finally was invited for a knockout tournament. I was guaranteed a place in the second match. In the first match, we lost a last over thriller, and our team was knocked out. We moved, and little did I know that it would be my last game of cricket or sports.
Broken Cricket Dreams.
Guess what? There are numerous other fans with similar stories. And that is why we created this platform. You can share your own pain and share your joy from cricket. Here, dreams come true. Little did I imagine that people would appreciate my content, I would get a chance to interact with some of my favorite players, journalists, writers, and love the game even more from the outside.
Life Lesson #2
Always expect the unexpected. Life may not go to plan, but whatever comes your way might be a blessing in disguise as writing was for me. Don’t have regrets, smile, enjoy your journey, celebrate the struggle, dream big, follow your passion, appreciate the small things in life, and things will be good.
“You may say I am a dreamer, but I am not the only one…:
Situation: Cricket Twitter
Sharing Is Caring
Living in a non-cricket playing nation, it was difficult to find people to talk to with whom I could share this passion for cricket. Before I started this website, I used to talk in-depth about each and every cricket match with my family and a couple of close friends. Since I had no other outlets, I used to chew their brains off.
What I have realized since the inception of this website 15 months ago is that even though I am a dreamer and live in my own cricket bubble….I am not the only cricket fan on Earth. In fact there are more like me. There are fans of the game who go to even more of an extent for the love of the game. Fans with a greater sense of loss or broken dreams.
The other, more darker aspect of Twitter and social media in general is the divisiveness. When things are going well, social media is usually a nice happy place. However, fan wars, cancel culture, trolling, tagging cricket players themselves, abusing their families take away from the game.
Life Lesson #3
Loving one country does not mean detesting the opposition. You can have too different views without contradicting each other. Spread Love. Sharing is Caring, Shouting is Not. Man has created boundaries. Cricket can unite the broken world. This is where the final line of John Lennon’s song comes in.
I hope someday you will join us, and the world will live as one”
“When there was doubt, I ate it up and spit it out.
I faced it all, and I stood tall,
And I did it my way.”
Situation: Trying to be me
Thinking Outside The Box
One of my main goals when starting this project was to do things differently from a normal cricket or news site. There are several better platforms for that.
I have tried to make content unique by embedding my personality via life lessons, philosophy, and cultural references or by experimenting with different styles and formats (A Shakespearean play, The Comedy of Overs,for example). Everything has not worked. I have struggled, doubted myself, overworked, but in the end, I learned, improved, changed things, and progressed further.
Life Lesson #4
There are millions of ways to manifest your love for something. I choose to portray my love of cricket via writing. Yours might be different. There is no one right or wrong answer. You can express your love or admiration for anything in numerous ways. Just whatever you do, give it your all and do it YOUR way. Be honest. Be yourself.
Life is a game. You win some, you lose some. Sportsmanship make your life easier. You become a better human being when not bogged down by failures. Learn from failures, work hard, and rise again. Any setbacks just make you stronger.
Situation: Thank You to everyone out there reading this
Okay, this is not really a goodbye. I just love this piece of music. This is just the beginning of my writing journey, but I wanted I want to end this article with a Thank You. Thank you for all my readers and all the followers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram as well. I love the engagement and learning from y’all. Friendly banter, memes, stories, art make my day. Hoping for many more years of conversation ahead!
Life Lesson #5
Be grateful. For everything and everyone. Hug your family. Keep in touch with your friends. Make that call you have been waiting for. Reach out if there are any mental health struggles. Appreciate one another. This pandemic has taught us some harsh lessons. Cherish every moment. To be human is to be grateful.
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If you are one of my new followers, I will leave you with some of my best writing and featured articles.
I. My Favorite Cricket Heroes and What We Can Learn From Them?
My cricket writing journey began with a tribute to Rahul Dravid. Since then, I have written about some of my other favorite players—Dale Steyn, Ellyse Perry, Ross Taylor, Faf Du Plessis & AB De Villiers, Umar Gul, Nicholas Pooran, Dinesh Karthik, Lasith Malinga, Joe Denly, Sam Curran, Dean Jones, the Bangladesh Fab Five, and the duo of Suresh Raina & MS Dhoni.
Just swipe the photos for more articles in each category.
Have you ever tried to compile an XI of South African born players playing for other countries? Or wondered what the most beautiful stadiums in the world are? Here is some of my lists—Players who retired too early, most underrated cricketers, unluckiest XI, commentators XI, most stylish, etc.
The series can be summed up by Nelson Mandela’s quote, “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
Whenever India looked like they were gone, they found a way to get back up.
36/9 in Adelaide and without Virat Kohli at Melbourne. Surely India cannot recover at the Boxing Day Test? Well exactly the opposite happened as India achieved a memorable victory. The entire team rose to the occasion & Rahane, the stand-in captain, stood up with a magnificent century.
Injuries to fast bowlers of the Class of 2018. Before the series, No Ishant, no Bhuvi. Midway through the series, Shami, Umesh, and Bumrah out. By the end, Ashwin, Jadeja, & Vihari are done. Battered & bruised, they draw the third test.
Did the Indian team decide to give up at any point in time? Does India play for the draw in the 4th test? No & No. They go for the win. And they indeed win.
Life Lesson 1: It is okay to make mistakes. You will suffer setbacks. The important part is to regroup, learn from these initial setbacks & mistakes, and find your feet again. Keep working. Keep going. Just never give up.
2. Just Be Yourself
Moment: Pant-Pujara Partnership
Oh he plays too slow! No intent shown….Oh he is too reckless. Gets out against the run of play.
This is not a description about one player but a paraphrasing of criticism for two different players, Pujara and Pant.
Balance is important. Criticize these two at your own peril.
Pujara scored his slowest fifty in the first innings of the 3rd Test. He followed it up by his 3rd slowest in the second innings. He went to break his own slowest 50th at the historic Gabba chase.
Pant ‘throws it away’ in the 2019 World Cup Semi-Final. Pant has ‘thrown it away’ several times before. In the third test, he plays a ‘rash’ shot at 97. Hopes of India’s win diminish, but the fact India had hope in the first place is due to Pant. Fortune favors the brave.
Pujara ended the series with a strike rate of 29.2. Pant with 69.89. Neither got a century, yet the partnerships of 148 (265)in Sydney and 61 (141) at Brisbane were monumental in India’s victory.
Cheteshwar Pujara and Rishabh Pant. Chalk and cheese. Yin and Yang.
Life Lesson 2: Adapting to different situations & circumstances in life is important but not at the expense of your innate being. Always learn from others, listen, take their advice, but at the end of the day, you are unique, and that is good enough. Never change who you are for others, and never forget where you came from.
3. Character & Determination
Moment: Hanuma Vihari & R Ashwin in the 3rd Test
Hanuma Vihari had a disastrous series till Day 5 of the 3rd Test. In his 5 innings, he scored 16 & 8, 21, and 4 & 23*. By the 4th day, he had run himself out after looking uncomfortable with a 4 (38), dropped a couple of crucial chances, and had been hit numerous times at forward short leg.
When Pujara & Pant depart on Day 5, Vihari has only scored 3*(31) with a session & a half to go. Just to put salt on the wound, Vihari suffers a hamstring injury. His new partner, R Ashwin, neither has form on his side nor a functioning back.
But boy, does he have spine? Post tea, he gets battered with short deliveries and gets hit on the ribs & shoulders.
Response? They pull off one of the major heists in recent Test cricketing memory. Vihari 23*(161) with over 4 and a half hours of batting & 39*(128) in 3 hours for Ashwin. Partnership of 62*(259).
If this is not one of the greatest displays of character & determination, I just don’t know what is.
Life Lesson 3:Sometimes things are in your favor. At other times, they are not. Vihari could have easily retired hurt and cared for his place in the 4th Test. These moments are what life is all about. Even when you are not 100% physically or mentally, stay in the moment & give it your all.
Mark Twain is credited to have said, “Do the thing you fear, and the death of fear is certain.”
The embodiment of fearlessness was displayed by India’s youth in this tour—Debutants Shubman Gill, Mohammad Siraj, Washington Sundar, (almost debutant) Shardul Thakur, and none more so than the experienced Rishabh Pant.
Gill’s backfoot punches are a thing of beauty. Beauty + Consistency + Positive Approach = Brilliance of Shubman Gill. Scores of 45, 35*, 50, 31, 7, and the 91 that gave India belief in Brisbane.
Thakur & Sundar did not fear against Starc-Cummins-Hazlewood. Neither did they blindly hit. They played proper cricketing shots & dominated. On Day 5 and near victory, Sundar pulled dangerous Cummins for six, Pant paddle swept Lyon, & Sundar got out playing a reverse sweep. Fearless stuff.
Life Lesson 4: You will face challenges and difficulties, whether that is related to school or work. Next time you fear how hard the upcoming exam is or if you have self-doubts about completing a project, take a deep breath and invoke your inner Rishabh Pant.
Luck is when opportunity meets preparation. The youngsters, reserves, & stalwarts of India were prepared when this opportunity came.
Although Rahane’s century was the highlight of Melbourne’s victory, Bumrah and Ashwin were among the wickets, Shubman Gill contributed with a 45 & 35*, & ever dependable Jadeja made a steady 57 along with his fielding efforts.
The Sydney draw was masterminded by Pant-Pujara & Ashwin-Vihari partnerships, but also had key contributions from Gill-Sharma & Jadeja again. In the final Test, the improbable counterattack by Thakur-Sundar, Siraj’s 5-for, & Gill-Pujara-Pant-Sundar took India to victory.
India utilized 20 squad members, Pant was the highest score with only 274 runs, & Siraj the highest wicket taker with 13 wickets. It was a truly a team effort from India’s point of view. Australia had more centuries, highest wicket taker, & most run scorer (since they played all 4 matches).
Life Lesson 5: Learn to work with others. The more diverse the ideas, the better. Individual excellence along with the greater good is the best way forward. Bring others along with you.
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So why does Cummins get a special mention? Because he was the highest wicket taker at 21 wickets and player of the series? No.
Pat Cummins bowled 162.1 overs, the most by a pacer in this Test series (Lyon with 187). Hazlewood was next with 144.4. This is an amazing feat considering Cummins was marred by injuries in his early career (Test debut in 2011, but did not play any tests between 2012-16).
He was just as intense on Day 1 of the first Test as he was on Day 5 of the 4th. In the final hour of the series, if there was one bowler who Tim Paine could depend on, it was Pat Cummins. Still bowling at 140 clicks, hitting the perfect line & length (Spooky pitch map by the way).
Accuracy, Consistency, Intensity. That’s Pat Cummins for you.
Pujara and the rest of the Indian batsmen had drained the Australian bowling unit. Cummins must have been out of energy. He must have tired, but it did not show. Bowled his heart out.
Life Lesson 6: Success comes before work only in dictionary. If you want to pursue any field, be like Pat Cummins. Give it your 100%. Work hard, play hard, fail, learn, cherish moments of glory,repeat.
7. Fine Line Between Banter & Abuse
Moments: Ashwin-Paine Banter, Mohammad Siraj Racial Abuse
The heat of the moment got to Tim Paine in the 3rd Test match with his banter against Ashwin. It came back to bite him since Australia lost their fortress after 33 years, the Gabbatoir. Paine later came back for an emergency press conference to address the issues. At other times in the series, commentators were guilty of making derogatory remarks against Marnus Labuschagne.
Life Lesson 7:Racism is not acceptable in any form. Speak up if you are a victim or a by-stander. Try to learn from other cultures. If you are not sure about a cultural reference or how to pronounce a name, just ask. Don’t Assume. Embrace diversity. Be nice.
8. Walk the Talk: Performance Matters
Moments: Tim Paine & Matthew Wade’s Performances
Tim Paine had a decent series with the bat, especially the counter attacking Player of the Match 73* at Adelaide. The rest of his performance though was below par.
Dropped catches at Sydney & Brisbane, missed DRS reviews, useless banter, & fielding placements. He needs to walk the talk with his captaincy.
The other keeper in the XI, Matthew Wade also needs to walk the talk. He has done a great job plugging holes in Australia’s line up as a middle order, opening batsman, and taking hits from Neil Wagner. In this India Vs Australia 2020 series, he has managed to get out with a soft dismissal on 3-4 occasions.
Life Lesson 8:Words need to be accompanied with actions to have any meaning. Walk the talk & never take anything for granted. When you are doing well, make the most out of your opportunity because the good times can end very quickly.
9. Leadership Matters
Moments: Siraj leads the attack, Rahane consoles Jadeja after Run Out
If I had to remember this series by one story alone, it would be Mohammad Siraj. Siraj comes from a humble background, was in bereavement of his father’s loss, and was racially abused. Bumrah gets injured, and India play the Brisbane Test with a total of 4 Test matches among the 5 bowlers, with Rohit Sharma being the most experienced bowler.
Siraj becomes the leader of the attack, gives advice to Saini, Natarajan, & Thakur, and takes a well deserved 5-fer. It has been a great boon to Indian cricket that the transition from Zaheer Khan to Ishant Sharma, Ishant Sharma to Bumrah, and Bumrah to Siraj has been smooth. Arms around shoulders.
Speaking of leadership, Rahane’s captaincy & calm demeanor (the Jadeja moment & reaction after series victory) were central to India’s win. In addition, the physio’s efforts during this injury-marred series, and support staff’s influence with Bharat Arun & Ravi Shastri cannot be understated.
Life Lesson 9: Be the leader you want others to be. Lead with humility and vision. Take responsibility. Guide others. Sharing is caring. Creating other leaders is the most significant sign of leadership.
10. Do Not Get Ahead of Yourself
Moments: The Gabba Fortress Breached
The pre-series talk included several predictions of Australia sweeping 4-0 and even after Sydney, Gabba’s statistics were the talk of the town. We all know what happened.
India needs to be warned as well. This was an expected surreal win, but the Indian team should not get ahead of themselves. If India gets complacent, who knows, England might provide India a taste of their own medicine later this year.
Life Lesson 10: Pride and ego can lead to positive growth if utilized correctly. Hubris and arrogance, on the other hand, will certainly bring your downfall.
11. Bonus Story: Superstitions For The Win
This is a fun personal story.
I have always enjoyed underdog stories. I mean, this entire blog is about “Broken Cricket Dreams.” One of the Test matches I have always waited for is a 5th Day hard fought draw.
Due to time zones, I had missed Faf’s Adelaide debut & a similar New Zealand-England match earlier in the decade. The 2015 South Africa blockathon (143 runs in 143.1 overs) resulted in a narrow defeat. The end of the decade, I thought my dream would come true with the Azhar Ali-Fawad Alam-Rizwan effort. It was not to be.
I am also known for my jinx ability & superstitions (just for the fun of it). So 3rd Test Day 5, I had been asked by my friend and family to not tweet a thing. I went one step ahead and decided to not speak either for the day.
After almost 9 and a half hours, the dream finally came true. India had saved the Test match. And guess what? It was a kind of peaceful exercise, not being on social medial 24-7. Anyway…
India Vs Australia 2020 Legacy
Surely this is a tour that Allan Border & Sunil Gavaskar would be proud of.
For a generation or two, the 1999 World Cup Semi-Final, 2005 Ashes, 2001 Laxman’s 281, Belinda Clarke’s 229* were the moments to cherish. In the last 5 years, cricket has rejuvenated itself. All formats with memorable moments.
T20 World Cup – Remember The Name
Women’s World Cup 2017, WT20 2020 – 86,000 spectators
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As nineteenth-century philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once said, “Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.”
In this age of fast-paced technology and instant gratification, we sometimes focus too much on day-to-day activities and forget to appreciate life at the fullest. Here at Broken Cricket Dreams, we seek inspiration in our lives from cricketing events, relive childhood memories, and share our broken dreams.
Earlier, we did a piece on Cricket’s Reflections of Passion, where we discussed how each and every cricket is motivational in their own right, whether they have played 100 tests or just one. Similarly, today we discuss the life lessons from from IPL 2020.
IPL is a tournament where dreams come true. T. Natarajan, Mohammad Siraj, Yashasvi Jaiswal, the Afghan duo of Rashid and Nabi, and architect Varun Chakravarthy are just few of the countless examples. Their journeys are already so inspirational, even before taking the IPL in consideration.
This year has been different though due to the pandemic. IPL 2020 has provided the fans an ounce of relief that was needed. Here are 10 life lessons that IPL 2020 has provided us.
With the growing pandemic situation in India, it was never feasible to hold a full-fledged IPL there. The BCCI took the bold decision and moved it to UAE, putting all the safety precautions in place. Hats off to all the organizers, staff, commentators, and players for making this happen.
Seeds need the right environment to grow, and sometimes the soil is fertile elsewhere. In this case, soil was literally fertile elsewhere. It is completely okay to acknowledge that and nurture the seed where it is best poised for growth. So how can we apply this in our lives?
Life Lesson 1: Spread goodness and good ideas. Recognize that you will not be the center of attention all the time. Sometimes just stepping aside, encouraging others, and lending them a hand is just as important.
After struggling at 17 (23) in a mammoth chase of 226, Tewatia roared back with 5 sixes in an over against Sheldon Cottrell ending with 53 (31). The initial struggle even provoked the commentators to propose the ‘retire out’ option.
“Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope.”
This is exactly what Rahul Tewatia has taught us this season.
Life Lesson 2: When life gives you lemons, weather the storm with the best of your abilities and come back with a bang. Hang in there. Before thinking of quitting, reflect on why we came into the profession in the first place.
Although he could not take KXIP across the line in the first attempt, he learned from his mistakes and made amends the second time around.
One of the stories of IPL 2020 was Mayank Agarwal. His toil in domestic cricket is well recorded. After years of piling the runs without national selection, he finally made it to international cricket.
Life Lesson 3: It is not the end till the end. Disappointments will occur. The important thing is to learn from this setback, not drag on the disappointments, and come back stronger.
They both changed games themselves by taking diving catches at crucial junctures of the game. In Hindi, Anukul means favorable. Throughout the tournament, he did just that—made situations favorable for himself.
Life Lesson 4: It is easy to get disheartened when you are on the sidelines or not getting that promotion, but you never know. Always be prepared. When your opportunity arrives, cash in. This may be the moment you have prepared all your life.
5. Synergy Above All
Moment: Team spirit of SRH and MI pushes them to the the playoffs (and championship)
Synergy is defined as “the interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of individual elements, contributions, etc” . Sunrisers Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians were prime examples of this phenomenon in this tournament.
SRH were dealt with injury blows all throughout the tournament—Mitchell Marsh, Vijay Shankar, Wriddhiman Saha, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and Kane Williamson on and off. Just take a look at SRH’s man of the match winners:
Rashid Khan, Priyam Garg, Jonny Bairstow, Manish Pandey, Wriddhiman Saha, Sandeep Sharma, Shahbaz Nadeem, and Kane Williamson.
Notice something? David Warner, Jason Holder, Abdul Samad do not even feature in this list.
Similarly, MI had contributions from each team member. Even the little contributions from Jayant Yadav in the final and Suryakumar Yadav’s sacrificial run-out for the betterment of the team turned out to be momentous.
Life Lesson 5: Teamwork, harmony, unity is more important than just individual contributions. This can be applied to sports, work, or education. Invest in collaborative efforts.
With plenty of Super Overs and Double Super Overs, this IPL was not short of excitement. Catches win matches, direct hits changes games. Still holds true. Given that the points table were extremely close at the end, these super overs may have changed some fates.
Life Lesson 6: Focus, Focus, Focus. Every moment matters, every detail matters. It is easy to be complacent and declare victory prematurely, but a small mistake can come back to haunt you.
7. Carry Old Baggage At Your Own Risk
Moment: Delhi Capitals and the Chennai Super Kings
Delhi Capitals were on a roll for the first half of the tournament, but they lost momentum drastically. Shikhar Dhawan and Marcus Stoinis blew hot and cold, ranging from match winning contributions to absolutely nothing. Holding on to older performances may have hindered DC to rise to the next level.
Another team that held on too long? CSK. Their old stars carried the baggage and credentials for maybe one season too long.
Life Lesson 7: Keep on Improving. Holding on to past performances, and achievements may hinder your present. Stay in the present, and “keep it simple, stupid.”
8. When One Era Closes, Another Opens
Moment: Dale Steyn and CSK on the way out, Padikkal, Garg, Gaikwad, and co. come to the party
Sports can provide legendary status to some during their careers. Dale Steyn and MS Dhoni are legends and will always remain so. IPL 2020 confirmed that their careers were on the last lap, and honestly it was a sad sight.
On the other hand, the Indian youngsters showed promise. They were so good, we could even make an uncapped XI out of them.
Life Lesson 8: Transitions are a part and parcel of life. Sometimes it is hard to let go, but it is going to be okay. We can relieve the old memories, but moving on at the right time is crucial.
9. Fix Roof When Sun Is Shining
Moment: Warning to Indian cricket for the future
The talent emerging in Indian cricket is tremendous. With nurturing from U-19, India A, and IPL squads and mentorship with people like Rahul Dravid, these cricketers are already a ready, mature product.
Although we have to take care of these youngsters, both physically and mentally, the BCCI needs to make sure these talents do not go wasted.
Mayank Agarwal barely made it, talents like Manish Pandey and Rishabh Pant have been mishandled, and Suryakumar Yadav is in the danger of not being selected in his prime.
Indian cricket needs to take the right decisions when the time is good. Otherwise, semi-final losses will become an excruciating pattern…
Life Lesson 9: Make hay when the sun shines. Everyone goes through high and lows. Just make sure to capitalize when the going is good, because it will not remain so forever.
10. Sportsmanship and Passion for the Game
Moment: Harsha Bhogle’s quote of the IPL, “That is what sport should be about. There is humanity off the field; competition on it and the two are never at odds with each other”
Sport is tough and competitive in nature, but outside of the stadium, all the players are human. The T20 leagues have definitely helped in building relationships across boundaries, and it would be great if cricket is actually played like the ‘gentleman’s game.’
Finally, without spectators, the will of the players was on display in IPL 2020. They played for the love of the game. The players did their best and competed with complete energy even without any external applause.
Life Lesson 10: Internal Motivation vs External Motivators – One should always give their best without expecting in return. Just keep on improving, give it your all, and leave the rest.
If this happens with the sportsmanship, then we have a win-win situation here. I would like to leave you with:
What is life without cricket? What is cricket without the life lessons?
Let us know which life lessons were your favorite in the COMMENTS below.
Reflections of Passion by Yanni, what a beautiful composition. One of my all-time favorite pieces.
It evokes a variety of emotions, all at the same time. The music is playful, yet somber. Soothing, yet powerful. Beneath the passion and the joy, lies a subtle dose of grief and tension.
What is passion in the first place? According to Dictionary.com, passion is a
Strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything.
Passion comes in all shapes and forms—it could be romantic, could be ambition to be the best and break barriers, or just a willingness to improve and prove to yourself that you are worth it.
Wait, wait, wait. You would be thinking, where or why is the cricket gone? Why am I talking about music and philosophy all of a sudden? Isn’t this IPL season?
Well, lately I have been reflecting about the relationship between a fan and the professional. Cricket is a game filled with passion – the fans, the players, and the administrators alike. The vision of a fan differs vastly from how the sportsperson plays his or her game.
Now, the idea of my own last article perturbed me a bit.
According to a fan’s point of view, we would like to have seen the journey of a few cricketers longer than they lasted, but do they see themselves as unlucky? I am not so sure.
We all want to be part of something greater than we are. Hence, we invest ourselves in the sport. Although the fans are part of the crowd, we want to be in the game, and we live our dreams through the players themselves. If our own favorite player does not play well, we feel bad ourselves deep down inside, as if we had failed.
So are we not being harsh on the player when calling them unlucky or criticizing them?
Anyway, the philosophy can wait for a little while. Stay tuned for the What Can We Learn? from these so-called unlucky cricketers section at the end of the article below.
Audience Poll Results – Top 3 Unluckiest
Before we jump into the moral of the story, here are the actual results of the poll we did on who our viewers thought were the unluckiest cricketers of the last few decades.
Honorable Mentions : Mohammad Ashraful, Shane Bond, Brad Hogg
Others: Alex Hales, Lendl Simmons, James Taylor, Hansie Cronje, Sreesanth
2. Test: Washed Out XI
Honorable Mention: Adam Voges
Others: Marcus Trescothick, Mark Ramprakash, Fawad Alam, Prasanna Jayawardene, Simon Harmer, Duanne Olivier, Stuart MacGill, Lasith Malinga
3. Twitter Poll
Where Are They Now?
While Fawad Alam finally made a hard fought comeback and players like Alex Hales, Mohammad Amir, and Lendl Simmons are still fighting for a spot in their national squads, we look back at how some of the former international cricketers are inspiring the next generation.
I. Marcus Trescothick and James Taylor
Marcus Trescothick was on track to be one of the all-time greatest openers and the best English batsman ever produced before he had to stop playing international cricket due to mental illness during the prime of his career.
What he did after his international career is itself awe-inspiring. He continued playing first class cricket for Somerset till the age of 43 and has been open in talking about his struggles, most prominently with his autobiography, Coming Back to Me. Lately, several cricketers like Jonathan Trott and Glenn Maxwell have come out in public with mental struggle of an international career, but it may not have been possible had Trescothick not paved the way.
James Tayor has also had a similar story. Talented young English cricketer but had to retire at the age of 26 because of a serious heart condition.
Did this stop Taylor from doing what he loves most? No, instead he carried on and stayed close to the game with the goal of giving back to English cricket. He is now a full-time selector and is frequently seen in the stands supporting the England cricket team. He also wrote an inspirational auto-biography, Cut Short.
II. Shane Bond, Mohammad Kaif, and Prasanna Jayawardene
Although Shane Bond’s career halted because of recurring injuries, he is having as much impact as a bowling coach now as he did when he was a fast-bowler for New Zealand. Most prominently, he was the bowling coach of NZ between 2012-2015, the period that saw the growth of this team especially mentoring Trent Boult and Tim Southee.Has also coached Mumbai Indians and Sydney Thunder.
Mohammad Kaif joined the Gujarat Lions assistant coach staff in 2017 (under coach Brad Hodge, another name on our list)and is now the assistant coach of Delhi Capitals under coach Ricky Ponting (they are doing quite well if you have not noticed). As one of the best fielders India produced, one of his areas of focus is to actively promote fitness.
Finally Prasanna Jayawardene, regarded as the best wicketkeeper of Sri Lanka, was recently hired by England as a wicket-keeping coach apart from coaching in Sri Lanka.
III. Brad Hogg and Robin Uthappa
Both Brad Hogg and Robin Uthappa have invested there post-cricketing careers in media and broadcasting like several other players. Although Uthappa is currently representing Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, he has already done a few shows at Cricbuzz. Another way Robin Uthappa has been contributing is mentoring and supporting school-age cricketers.
Brad Hogg is one of the more familiar faces in commentary recently with stints in the IPL, Big Bash, and all over the place. Just look at his Linkedin.
So, What Can We Learn?
This was just a small list we picked from. There are numerous such unsung heroes in our sport.
So looking back, were these cricketers really unlucky? Did they really disappoint? On the contrary, their journey has been just as valuable as someone who has played a 100 Tests.
They may be regarded as “unlucky” in their own cricketing careers for one reason or another, but they may become the source of inspiration, the hand of the support, the “lucky” person someone else needs.
We know the scientific axiom that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it can only be transformed. Similarly, passion never dies. The love of the game just transforms.
You can take a cricketer out of cricket, but can never take out cricket from a cricketer. Even if Kaif can inspire one person to live a more fit lifestyle or if Bond discovers the next fast bowler, they have still contributed to the game immensely.
Ups and Downs, success and failure will occur. That is just natural.
The important thing is to remain not-outand go to the next part of the journey.
So you should never give up and keep whatever you are doing. Just stay in the game.
The journey is more important than the destination. Regardless of what happens out there in the middle, the fact that they have given their all is what matters. I hope all these players keep on contributing to world of cricket in one form or the other and continue their journey.
They have all inspired me. Even if you inspire one person, it has been a journey worth living. After all is said and done, with all your shattered and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world out there.
Image Courtesy: Mark Ramprakash – Onewhohelps at English Wikipedia / via CC 3.0; Mohammad Ashraful – Nurunnaby Chowdhury (Hasive) / CC BY-SA 4.0; Stuart MacGill – paddynapper / CC BY-SA 2.0; Yanni / CC BY-SA 2.0; Alex Hales – Amal316 / CC BY-SA 4.0; Shane Bond – Benchill / CC BY-SA 3.0; Marcus Trescothick – SGGH at English Wikipedia / Public domain;