No matter how old you get, you never forget your childhood dream of becoming a cricketer and representing your nation. Living one such dream is five-year-old Shayan Jamal who hails from Delhi. Cricket for him is not just a sport, it is a ritual that he has gotten accustomed to. Shayan, who created a record by being the youngest player to play a Under-14 sub-zonal match, wants to go on and represent the nation. Interacting with the budding cricketer’s father, Arshad Jamal, one gets to know about the sacrifices made by the duo.

How it all started

“When he was very young, about a year old, the first thing that he used to do after waking up was to watch the match. When he used to come to the cricket ground, you could see a spark in his eyes… a different kind of happiness. There was an old bat of mine that I used to play with. He used to roam around in the house with that bat of mine. If someone took the bat away from him, he would start crying. His mother got him a small plastic bat when he was 1.5 years old. That’s where the journey began.”

The big challenge

“The kind of shots that he used to play in the house, I was worried that he would break a bulb or a tube light. So I started bringing him to the ground for practice. The more I encouraged him to play, his appetite grew further. When he was 2 years and 10 months old, I decided that he should now be trained properly. I set a benchmark for him where if he continues to show the same passion and intensity for cricket, then I’ll sacrifice my business and will focus on him.”

Passing the test with flying colours

“At 5:30 in the morning, I got him to the ground for 60 days consecutively for practice and not a single day did he refuse to come. He used to enjoy all his drills from 5:30 to 8:30 am. He would practice batting, bowling, fielding, running and even played soccer with a lot of passion and intensity. What is surprising is that even after 3 hours of practice, he wants to play more. He gets scolded by me and his mother but he just doesn’t stop practising. He will finish his homework and start his shadow practice.”

“When he turned 3, I accepted my defeat and invested my time in preparing him for the future. It is difficult to find cricketing gear for such a young child but somehow I found the entire kit for him. From there, we began his professional journey. Since he turned 3, I limited the time I used to spend at the shop and devoted more time to him for his practice. Since then, he has been practising for 3 hours every day.”

All-around performance

“I just got his half-yearly report card. He has got A+ in all the subjects. Whenever I have gone for the parents-teacher meeting, I have never heard any complaints that Shayan hasn’t completed any of his work. When he was in the nursery, he played Under-12 and now in KG, he has played Under-14 for his school in a South Delhi sub-zonal match.”

Dreams were broken but there is still hope

“We didn’t get enough opportunities to play cricket during our time because our families didn’t support us if you wanted to become a cricketer. My parents wanted that our children should become doctors or engineers when they grow up and because of that, neither could I become a doctor or an engineer nor a cricketer. I somehow got involved in business but my passion for cricket has always been there. My first love has always been cricket. I couldn’t fulfill my dream to play for the country but I hope that he goes on to play for the nation and makes us proud.”

Shayan Jamal, Arshad Jamal

Shayan Jamal, youngest cricketer in Delhi to play a U-14 match