Write Start (11-15): Shara Balkaran quit cricket that day, but Brian Lara had other ideas…

“[…] ‘Why are you here?’ asked one of the boys. ‘Girls cannot play cricket,’ said another jokingly. 

“Their comments were followed by an eruption of laughter from the other boys. Demotivated and embarrassed, I darted from there, as fast as a lightning bolt. I sat at the end of the staircase and sobbed uncontrollably. I was so buried in my emotions that I did not notice someone approach me…”

Thirteen-year-old Parvati Girls’ Hindu College student Shara Balkaran is our tenth and final shortlisted fictional writer in the 11-15 category of the inaugural Wired868 Write Start competition. Her age group was asked to write on: ‘The day I met my local hero’:

Photo: West Indies legend Brian Lara smashes the ball to the boundary during his record breaking innings of 375 against England at Antigua in 1994.
(via Cricketnmore)

For as long as I could remember, I had a passion for cricket. Playing cricket was my hobby and I would always enjoy playing matches with my cousins at home. Whenever we played, I was always the one to make the most runs and hit the most 4s and 6s. I was a fast runner which gave me a great advantage. The sport always brought excitement and the more I practiced, the better I got. 

My passion for cricket actually stemmed from watching my hero, Brian Lara’s cricket matches on television. He is one of the sport’s most renowned modern players and record holder for most runs scored in an innings—in both Test and first-class cricket. I had always admired his passion, hard work and determination towards the sport. I had wished to be as victorious in cricket as him one day. 

I was only nine years old at the time, in standard two, when our school introduced cricket as an extracurricular activity. Students interested were asked to attend tryouts, after which they would have selected eleven team players. I was as happy as a lark and beyond excited to receive this great news. That afternoon I scurried down to the field for tryouts. 

Upon arrival, to my surprise, I was the only girl there, among 40 boys. I was extremely nervous to be competing against all those boys and I did not think that I was ready for such a challenge. 

Photo: A young man throws the ball during a West Indies Kiddy Cricket clinic in Barbados.

“Why are you here?” asked one of the boys. “Girls cannot play cricket,” said another jokingly. 

Their comments were followed by an eruption of laughter from the other boys. Demotivated and embarrassed, I darted from there, as fast as a lightning bolt. I sat at the end of the staircase and sobbed uncontrollably. 

I was so buried in my emotions that I did not notice someone approach me until I heard a voice say, “Is something wrong dear?” 

As I lifted my head upwards, I was stunned by the figure I saw standing before me. I felt as though my eyes were deceiving me. 

“B-B-Brian Lara!” I exclaimed at the top of my lungs. “What are you doing at our school?” I asked astonishingly. 

He smiled and said, “I can tell that I have a supporter here. Well you see I am a good friend of your Physical Education teacher, Miss Stacy Badree and her husband, my co-West Indian cricketer Samuel Badree.

Photo: Guess who…
(Copyright AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

“They invited me today to attend the tryouts for the school’s new cricket team and assist with the training.” 

I was elated and it was surreal moment. I could not believe that my hero was standing before me. He also noticed that I was dressed for tryouts and asked why I was not at the field. I proceeded to tell him what had occurred and that I was no longer attending tryouts. 

He was taken aback by the situation and then proceeded to say, “That is absolutely wrong. Girls can do anything that boys can do, if not better. You cannot give up now. If you do, how will you prove them wrong?” 

I realised what he said was true. More dedicated and determined than ever, I marched down to the field, ignoring everyone’s comments. 

When it was my turn I swung the bat swiftly, striking the ball high into the air, over the fence, leaving everyone stunned. I was of course the first to make the team after which I received many apologies for doubting my capabilities, which further built my confidence level. 

Photo: Girls play cricket in Costa Rica.
(Copyright Tico Times)

After months of training, our team went on to play a series of matches against other schools, which we won and arrived at the finals. The final match was most exciting, although a very close one. I was the last bats person and the fate of the game was in my hands. 

I scored three 6s, three 4s and made eighteen runs in two overs, ending the game at not-out. 

Our team was victorious and the crowd cheered lustily. We celebrated with great pomp and I was beyond thrilled when I received the ‘Woman of the match’ award. 

Afterwards, I met with Lara again. He greeted me with a smile and gave me a cricket ball which read, ‘Girls can do everything that boys can do if not better – Brian Lara’. 

“Never forget this,” he said, “You are a true champion. I’ll see you on the big stage one day.” 

Photo: West Indies cricket icon Brian Lara (left) signs autographs during the opening of the Brian Lara Cricket Stadium in Tarouba on 12 May 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

The day I met my hero Brian Lara will forever be etched into my mind. A hero he truly was as he completely changed my life. His words of encouragement inspired me to continue striving and reaching for the stars. 

The success I earned for my team and all other future successes in cricket will always be dedicated to my hero. 

Editor’s Note: Wired868 will announce the winners of the inaugural Write Start competition on 13 December 2021. The first place winner will get TT$6,000, a six month mobile plan from bmobile, and two complimentary movie tickets to CinemaONE.

Click HERE for more information on the Wired868 Write Start prize structure and do share your favourite essays!

(800 words) 

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