This article was specially written by Nikhilesh for Recurring Decimal, the JU English departmental wall magazine. Nikhilesh was the editor of Recurring Decimal. Copyright, presumably, belongs to Nikhilesh.
Ranjitsingh ji, Duleepsinhji, Ajay Singhji … how easy it would be to believe I was writing on another cricketer in that same illustrious line. But Ajay Singh, a student of our department between 1999-2001, is in no way connected to the great Ranji. Although, watching him bat in a cricket match you will find it hard to believe he does not have some royal blood flowing through his veins.
He is arguably the King of cambis cricket (cambis>canvas; cricket played with canvas balls). He has all the shots in the book and some beyond it – his favourite being the one that he mows over midwicket and into the Blue Earth workshop. The fastest bowlers in the university are scared to death of that shot. More disheartening for the bowler is the confidence with which he bats when his teammates are struggling to put bat to ball. I can give you instances; he scored 85 and 80 in two matches against the Economics department when the next highest score was under twenty on both occasions. He is not infallible though, as the zero in the last match of last season signifies. But that, as the cliché goes, endears him more to his supporters, of whom there are many in our department and understandably very few outside it. Contrary to popular belief it is difficult to think well of someone who has just smashed you all over the park.
I must choose to remain silent about his physical attributes because I will never be able to describe them with any degree of accuracy: he always seems to me so much bigger and taller and fitter than any other person on the field. And all my lasting memories of him are on the cricket fields where he is a true giant in the Land of the Lilliputs. But I can talk of his mental fortitude that shows through again and again.
‘Ajay’ – the word means ‘unconquerable’. And Ajay lives up to his name. He never lost a game in his mind. In any game of cricket, even when his teammates give up the ghost and waft at the ball like blind men or proceed to bowl longhops in a bid to get it over with quickly, he remains calm and calculating. I remember a match in which the opposition required eight runs with one over remaining. The bowler for the English department was young and awfully nervous. He had six runs taken off his first three deliveries. While every other fielder was busy expressing their doubts over the legitimacy of the bowler’s birth, a quiet voice came over from mid-off, “Arrey yaar, bowl a fuller length!” The bowler followed the advice and the match was tied. I remember it was Ajay fielding at mid-off. Oh! I remember it all so well. I was the bowler that almost lost the match for my team.
The other aspect of his mental make up is his commitment to the team’s cause. After he discontinued his studies at J.U. there were widespread concerns within the team that Ajay had played his last innings for the English department. Yet he proved them wrong and has never failed to turn up whenever he was asked to. Our departmental team is yet to face the world without the big man on their side.
Take a bow Ajay. You deserve all the applause you get.