In 2016, Shivil Sharma Kaushik made his debut in the Indian Premier League with the Gujarat Lions. His unique bowling action caught the attention of every cricket fan in India. The youngster’s performance and unorthodox style made him one of the most talked about players in the 2016 season.
Our Indian fans had a lot to say about the young bowler. People who’ve never actually stepped on the pitch were ready with their judgement. But for Shivil and his family, this kind of behavior wasn’t new.
Today, we get a glimpse of his life before he came in the limelight, through his journey as recounted by his mother.
Sandhya Sharma is a teacher in Bangalore, who was there for her son in every important moment is his life, wasn’t always on board with the idea of him becoming a professional cricketer.
He was a very happy and playful child, and started playing cricket when he was just three. Actually my husband inculcated the interest for cricket in Shivil as he was a cricket player himself during his university days.
When we moved to Bangalore, Shivil was just over five. My husband enrolled him in the cricket academy – KIOC. One day when I came back from school, I was shocked to see Shivil in a cricket uniform and a complete cricket kit next to him. Till that moment, I wasn’t aware of the fact that children that young go to these academies.
I fought with my husband – I was worried that he is very small, he may get hurt or he may pick up some bad habits from boys older than him. But my worries were ignored and from that day, his journey in cricket began.
Since that day, his life has revolved around cricket.
She has always wanted to live a simple life. Growing up in Punjab, Sandhya Sharma comes from humble beginnings.
My mother used to think that I am good in academics, so she wanted me to become a doctor. But I knew that I was an average student and not very hardworking. I left science and moved to arts, did my post graduation in Political Science and Hindi… did my B.Ed too.
I spent most of the time in a hostel as a I belonged to a village. I learnt almost all the different crafts but didn’t play any game as I didn’t get any opportunity.
Cricket is the most popular sport in India. And the evidence of that lies in the millions following the matches every month, worshiping the players and matching their routines to the schedule of cricket matches. All of this and much more is really good for us fans. But how does it affect the players?
Sandhya Sharma for one, is afraid of this kind of fame.
Cricket is a very popular game – people see all the money and fame that come with it. But for Shivil, the sport is simply a passion. For me, it is the source of my son’s happiness. I am a very simple person… I want peace and contentment in life, and don’t want fame.
I never wanted more fame and money for him… because I am afraid of “heights”. In fact, I am afraid of this growing fame and the strings attached to it.
I was always worried about him choosing cricket as a profession. When he was young, I asked what he wanted to become when he grew up and he said, ‘a cricketer’. I was surprised – I told him, “It’s not a profession, it’s just a game. So you can become a cricket player like Anil Kumble. You first become an engineer and then play cricket.”
There were so many times when I prayed to God they shouldn’t select him that particular year and that he should just quit. But he has always been determined… he’ll never quit.
Growing up in Bangalore, managing his school and practice sessions wasn’t easy for both Shivil and his mom. It’s struggles like these that people aren’t aware of. It’s easy for us to pass comments, judge the person performing in front of us. But, we don’t know what happened before that day. The obstacles that person faced and the difficult moments that led to that day.
When he played his first match… that night people passed so many comments about Shivil. Few were good. But because of his unorthodox bowling action, there were a lot of negative comments too. I felt bad, but he told me to be strong. He said, “this should not affect us.” So I stayed calm.
We were staying pretty far from his school, so travelling was a big problem. He was good in his studies and used to get the top rank in his class, but managing his school and cricket practice wasn’t easy.
Every morning, we used to travel by a bus and reach KIOC (Karnataka Institute of Cricket) at 6 AM. I do not know how to drive, so travelling around the city was difficult. Getting up at 4 AM, catching a bus at 5 AM, reaching his coaching camp on time and then later attending school… it was a tough time.
I never realised how tiring it must have been for him and always treated him like an adult. Maybe that was what made him so tough and determined at such a young age. He really is a gifted child.
Even though Shivil got his big break in the 2016, he didn’t make the cut for IPL in 2017 or 2018. According to his mom, a cricketer’s life is similar to that of a every other person with a job. There are ups and downs and we just have to keep pushing forward.
One thing I do not appreciate is that people give importance to players only during the IPL days. I was worried that my son will get carried away with this growing fan following. But, he handles everything very smoothly. I never treated him like a special person as I knew there will be many ups and downs in this game. So I taught Shivil how to handle failure.
A cricketer lives the same life all of us do. Some days are good, some are bad – one should find the right balance. I have always wanted him to stay a balanced person.
He wants to play for his country. Let’s see how it works out.
I plan to be there for him. Whatever he does, I’ll be there to support him. Earlier I was always trying to change his interest. But in due course of time, he has changed me a lot. His determination and attitude has made me a positive person.
*That was the story of a cricket mom in India. If you wish to read more interesting stories of people around us, follow us here.