Yeh sab kyaa chucker hai? a.k.a The chucker-view"Degree of Flex. Straightening of arms. Joints in elbows. Braces..."
"Stop it, stop it!". I woke up with a yell. Sweat poured all around me and even had little tributaries with names. I had dozed off during ESPN's Cricket Show where Murali tossed his deliveries in an attempt to show he didn't chuck. But I had lost all my sleep. It brought back those memories which I had hoped to cast away for ever. It was true: I have a past. I used to chuck!
Now that I have said it, the tale must be told. Judge me not by the jerk in my arm (or for the matter, by the jerk that I am), is all I can ask of you. 'Twas over 12 years ago. Caps went on heads, shops reported an increase in rubber balls. Window panes and band-aids were in demand as well. Summer vacations had arrived. Madras was full of young kids out on bails.
Cricket was now a full occupant of the gully in our little neighbourhood. Till then we were content to play half-pitch cricket and throwing down spinners. But now it was time to go the full distance and face a bowler off a run-up. Till then I had never endeavoured to do any bowling (not because it was my bat due to which I would always bat from #1 to #11). So I tried. To my surprise, I was quick. But so were the murmurings. Folks from home watched me one day and lacking the political correctness of my friends, shouted: "You are throwing the ball!".
Of course, I didn't! I didn't know until that point what "chucking" was when it came to bowling. Whatever it was, the tone in which that announcement was made didn't sound good, so I definitely knew I didn't. People were too polite to tell me I was wrong.
But I could not bend the rules, like I did my arm, all the time. I had to face the facts - like a fellow language speaker in a few years time, I was liable to be "called". That is names like "chucker" or "baseball picture" (Is Field of Dreams about chucking?). I had to go in for corrective action. I found that I could not comprehend the concept of bowling off-spinners (even today) without straightening the arm. So I turned to legspin. I found it impossible to throw the ball from the back of my hand. No one in their right minds turned to legspin, so I was a little bit of a rarity. I had absolutely no control over my flight, all I cared was that I didn't throw! Someone dubbed me as "Kumble". I didn't like him then and plus I didn't have glasses, you see? I couldn't be "Warne" as he was a non-entity then and would be soon thrashed by Shastri(!!) in a Test. Plus I didn't have blond hair and the only meaning of "mate" in my vocab was that of vice-captain on a ship, preferably a pirate one.
They say it was the first manifestation of the kinks in my mental armour. I went back one day to medium-pace bowling, but I was done in by then, my modified action no good, though I once picked up a hat-trick partly consisting of the two worst players in my building in Bombay. A career in dodgy-ball may have been more suited to me.
Now with MM's crusade to exonerate himself comes this idea of "flex". If this had come about many years ago, who knows, it might have saved my all-rounder status. Now the only "flex" in my life is likely to be a Gujarati describing constituents of snow. As for braces, I spent a great deal of time bowling with a brace on. I also spent a lot of time tightening it at my dentist's.