My Journey To The World Cup: Unmukt Chand’s New Book To Be Launched Nov 30
“The Sky Is The Limit – My Journey to the World Cup”, Unmukt Chand’s new book chronicles his rise as a cricketer, from childhood to the World Cup victory.
5 August, 2009
“Winning or losing does not matter. Without the losers, there are no winners. But we should know how to win graciously and how to lose with dignity.”
7 August, 2009
“I have to make it to the Ranji Trophy squad before I turn 17.”
These innocuous diary notes, written by a 16-year-old cricket player, portray a wisdom and determination that turn aspirations into success.
The player is Unmukt Chand, the captain of the victorious ICC Under-19 World Cricket Championship team, and today, these scribbled diary notes have turned into a book, about to be launched by Penguin Books India, on November 30.
Titled “The Sky Is The Limit – My Journey to the World Cup”, the book chronicles Unmukt’s rise as a cricketer of reckoning, right from his childhood days to the World Cup victory and how he came to represent his country, lead his team to victory complete with a captain’s match-winning knock and bring home the coveted trophy. The victory was India U-19 team’s first World Cup win outside Asia.
The book is born out of a large collection of diary notes, collated and recollected, ever since he started writing diaries as a little schoolboy.
“Writing diary started as a routine habit when he was very small, when he used to just jot down the happenings of the day,” Unmukt’s father Bharat Chand Thakur, told Learning & Creativity. “Slowly, he started chronicling his thoughts about his matches, what was going through his mind, what people said to him and so on.”
Always good in studies, Unmukt’s high grades in school earned him Scholar Badge, steadily for 3 years as a student in 6th, 7th and 8th Std. in Delhi Public School, Noida. “We had been noticing his special talent and aptitude towards cricket,” says Bharat Thakur.
Guided by his uncle Sunder Chand Thakur, whom Unmukt considers his mentor and his father, little Unmukt began a rigorous training at the neighbourhood park, in the scorching heat of summer afternoons, practising everything from batting, fielding and bowling to fitness and exercise.
“And as a 7-year-old he had started training at the National Stadium, under coach M P Singh, in the Junior Group, playing with Cosco balls. By the time he was about 12, we got to know about the Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA), the Under-15 group and how in order to represent the state, you needed to do well in school tournaments.”
“DPS Noida, being in Uttar Pradesh, did not offer much exposure to cricket tournaments, as compared to the variety of tournaments in Delhi schools,” he adds.
Unmukt shifted to Modern School, Barakhamba Road, in the 9th standard, getting admission in this prestigious school on the basis of his excellent performance in studies, in the written test and his skills in a sport. And if you thought the sport was cricket, think again – it was swimming!
Along with diary notes, Unmukt wrote book reviews and essays in Hindi and English, on topics his father would give him. The diary writing habit won appreciation from none other than the renowned cricketer Bishan Singh Bedi, during Bedi’s cricket camp in Dharamshala.
“V. Good. Keep it up. Your written expression will help you with your cricket learning. Make diary writing a habit,” wrote Bishan Singh Bedi, under Unmukt’s notes during the camp on 31 May, 2005. Unmukt was only 12 then.
And thus continued a journey, step by step, from school tournaments to Delhi State level; rising to the Under-15 team, and then the Under-16, followed by the Under-19; moving on to the Ranji Trophy, and over to the IPL (as the youngest player in Delhi Daredevils Team) and finally the captaincy of the Under-19 team. All along the diary kept him company, absorbing his thoughts, experiences, ideas, doubts, dreams and goals.
Carving out a consistent progress towards higher milestones, Unmukt received hands-on training under India’s established coaches at the elite National Cricket Academy, Bangalore (you need to excel at the state level and then the zonal level to get selected here).
“In a month at the NCA, I would have tried ten to twelve methods to tweak my batting, and it helped,” Unmukt writes in the book.
In fact, it was his uncle who encouraged him to think beyond cricket and three months before the World Cup tournament, the idea of turning the diary notes into a book started germinating.
Always the one to work with targets, Unmukt set himself a stiff target of completing the book within a year. “Before the World Cup, he had already written 40-50 percent of it, assuming that he will win the Cup,” says Bharat Thakur.
The book’s chronicles of the World Cup are interestingly less about him and more about his teammates and his support staff, and all the qualities each of these members have.
“I spent so much time with my team that by the time we won the championship, I knew everyone inside out. And I want you to know all of them too, as they all played equally important roles in making us champions,” writes Unmukt.
Through the high-pressure matches of the tournament, Unmukt’s diary notes did not cease, recording each match and identifying each of the 15 players’ strengths, qualities and areas of improvement, praising them and acknowledging their roles and thus displaying maturity and vision that befits an alert and intelligent captain. “Once we won that match (against Pakistan) I had no doubt: we were going to win the World Cup,” writes the Under-19 team captain.
He also noted his meetings with the Masters – Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar.
By February this year, he had submitted the first draft to his publishers, Penguin Books India. During the West Indian cricket legend Sir Vivian Richards’ visit to Delhi, Unmukt gave him the manuscript with a request for a Foreword. And Viv Richards readily agreed.
“When I first saw Unmukt Chand in the Under-19 World Cup, it was in Australia and I was immediately impressed with his mannerism at the crease. It was then that I recognized that at such an early age, he looked the part, and right away I took a liking to him as a batsman. India won that World Cup, so it is my belief if he continues to demonstrate the toughness and good form he has displayed at such an early age, it can only result in good things for Indian cricket’s future,” wrote Viv Richards in the Foreword.
A humble middle class background, gentle, unassuming and warm-hearted parents and a strong upbringing based on values, principles and self belief have helped Unmukt build a solid foundation to a successful journey so far and further on.
Bharat Thakur’s experience as a teacher in Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalayas (popularly known as RPVVs) helped him and his wife Rajeshwari Thakur to handhold Unmukt through the initial years. This writer, who has seen Unmukt grow up as a kid to a World Champion as her next door neighbor, has been witness to the steadfast dedication and efforts put in by the parents.
“The thought of writing this book and sharing your journey from childhood to the hour of your World Cup triumph shows what a mature individual you are,” wrote VVS Laxman in a special note for the book.
Written in a style that is simple, engaging and inspiring, the book comes across as an objective and spontaneous account from a young, passionate cricketer who dreams big and works hard towards achieving those goals. “It is a significant journey, though hopefully not my only one,” he writes. And we believe there are more to follow!
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