Cricket worked in weird ways in my house. Appa was super into it. Amma is a fan but not as much as Appa. Still, our lives revolved around it. I was two years old when I first got my bat. A plastic bat with MRF sign – because of Sachin Tendulkar.
Mom used to bowl to me. Those days, we would even make auto uncle wait until I play a couple of deliveries (at least). It became a routine. We were all obsessed.
Appa used to take me to cricket matches. No matter who played, we were there. My first women’s match was in 1997. I remember how I fell for Charlotte Edwards. I know everybody has their own reason. Mine was that she was the only one who scored a boundary near my stand in the stadium that day. I was, like, four or five at the time. What would I know?
She became my idol. Though it was tough to keep records on matches those days, Appa found different ways to keep me updated.
Years later, Simon Doull became my favourite cricketer in men’s. Thus, New Zealand became my favourite team. However, I had very little information about White Ferns. It took me years to see them play.
Exactly ten years later, the 2007 Quadrangular Series happened. I was there to see Charlotte Edwards once again but ended up falling for Suzie Bates instead. My first-ever White Ferns match was the one where she got to her maiden hundred. Of all the shots she played, there was this particular boundary by slog sweep. That shot was unreal. In fact, that knock was unreal. I was literally jumping in joy every time she scored a boundary. Sometimes, just to irritate my appa who was a die-hard India fan and Mithali Raj fan.
After the match ended, I remember talking about Suzie Bates and her shots until we got home. Edwards was always there but I became obsessed (still is) about Bates.
As we entered the internet era, keeping track of her scores was a bit easier. Every time there was a big knock from Bates, Appa used to take me out for dinner. It became a little tradition that we had followed.
As I grew up, Appa and I had this huge fight and stopped talking for years. We then eventually got back because of the game. There was this particular day in 2016 where we spent that night talking about different cricketers and their impact on our lives. Of course, it was more about Suzie Bates in women’s cricket and the number of dinners Appa and I had together because of her knocks. She was a household name.
A couple of days later, he got me a poster of Suzie Bates. The image was from the match where she got to her maiden hundred, the match we watched live. That was his last gift to me.
Days later, he had an injury followed by a stroke, a couple of years of the battle. We lost him in 2019 when he decided to end his life by suicide. I’m still processing his death and the guilt that came with it.
Every time I look at that poster, it reminds me of my appa and my good old days with him. I’m emotionally attached to that and of course, Suzie Bates. She certainly will always hold a special place in my life.