CricketCountry’s Executive Editor H Natarajan with the cricket World Cup (left) and the Fifa World Cup (right)

 

By H Natarajan

 

The party is still on. And it’s not likely to end anytime soon! The World Cup win has sent all of India in frenzied celebrations, the likes of which the country has never seen. The ICC World Cup, which the Men in Blue won on Saturday night, is ogled at zillion times more than Aishwarya Rai and Katrina Kaif put together have ever been ogled at!

 

Switch any television channels, read any newspaper in any Indian language from any Indian region and you will find the images of the World Cup and its proud owners. Listen to talks in the drawing rooms, offices, bars, airports, railway stations, bus stops, on the road and just about everywhere, and the talk is about India’s World Cup triumph.

 

I have had many people tell me how lucky I’m to watch these heroes play and get paid for it as well! Perks of a journalists’ job, you can say! And I’m sure there would be millions out there who would do whatever they can to be in this privileged position. Yes, the World Cup win would have given birth to many who would be nursing ambitions of becoming a cricket journalist.

 

As a journalist, one enjoys many perks of the jobs. Over my three decades in sports journalism, I have had the opportunity to be introduced to royalties and heads of state, be honoured guests at the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and International Olympic Council (IOC) Headquarters in Switzerland, enjoy an official lunch at the very elitist Wimbledon, see Roland Garros at close quarters, soak in the pristine history of Lord’s, visit the players’ locker room at marquee places like Manchester United, Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, AC Milan – the sanctum sanctorum of venerated names like David Beckham, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Zidane – and many more high-profile football clubs… invited to write for the most coveted newspapers, magazines and websites in the world, with flattering bio and pix to go with… invited as adjudicator on elite panels alongside celebrated names…

 

I also feel blessed to have seen/interacted from close quarters sports legends like Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, Sergei Bubka, Edwin Moses, Javier Sotomayor, Jahangir Khan, Sir Gary Sobers, Sir Viv Richards … The perks of the job also gave me an opportunity to know many of the biggest sportspersons in India like Sunil Gavaskar, Viswanathan Anand, Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi and, of course, Sachin Tendulkar… It gave me the chance to enjoy the privilege of witnessing epic events unfold before my eyes like Ravi Shastri’s six sixes in an over, Kapil Dev’s Test record 432nd wicket, Sunil Gavaskar’s 10,000th run, Yelena Isinbayeva becoming the first woman in history to clear five metres in pole vault…… Had it not been for the position I found myself in, I would never have got the opportunity to meet many celebrated names outside of sports, as varied as astronaut Rakesh Sharma to Hotmail inventor Sabeer Bhatia.

 

But what I feel most blessed is not sitting in the privileged media boxes around the world covering those events or brushing shoulders with those international celebrities, but the chance to “feel” some of the symbols of world sports supremacy with my own hands. I got to touch the Prudential World Cup with my own hands. Yes, the very World Cup that Kapil Dev lifted at Lord’s in 1983 with a sensational upset of the two-time champions West Indies. I also got to hold the present World Cup – the one that Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting have held it and which Mahendra Singh Dhoni lifted on Saturday before a global television audience to spark of mind-boggling celebrations.

 

I also had the privilege of hold the FIFA World Cup – THE symbol of supremacy in world football. While millions around the country celebrate the satisfaction of having watched their heroes win the World Cup, among the sea of Indians is me – a cricket fan who extended his passion for the game to become a cricket journalist – who feels truly blessed to have got the chance to touch two cricket World Cups that India won and the Fifa World Cup.

 

Often times we don’t realize how fortunate we are because we take things for granted. I was once sitting late at night with my friend Balwinder Singh Sandhu in his car. It was around 1.00 in the night and he had come to drop me at my home from a party we had attended together. As we were in an animated discussion, a doctor friend driving by saw me and stopped. Then he looked at the person beside me and raised eyebrows! His normally restrained and dignified self went for a toss as he said: “Oh, is that you, Mr Sandhu! I can never forget the ball that you bowled in the 1983 final to dismiss Greenidge!” Wow! No waiting for introductions!

 

As my fellow-blogger Murali Venkatesan, famously says in all his articles as a sign-off line, “Life is good!”

 

(H Natarajan, formerly All India Deputy Sports Editor of  the Indian Express and Senior Editor with Cricinfo/Wisden, is the Executive Editor of CricketCountry.com. A prolific writer, he has written for many of the biggest newspapers, magazines and websites all over the world. A great believer in the power of social media, he can be followed on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/H.Natarajan and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/hnatarajan )