India is known for giving cricketers, coming from very humble backgrounds, yet have made it big. But few stories are as inspiring as that of Indian fast bowler Umesh Yadav.
Brought up in the small village of Wali in Maharashtra, Yadav lived a typical village life. Whether it was stealing mangoes, going to play in the fields, or avoiding studies, Yadav did it all. But he always knew he wanted to go somewhere with his life. What he didn’t realize was that his lightning-fast yorkers would be the key.
Yadav was a great bowler in and around his village, sometimes playing as many as 3 matches in a single day. But he only played with a tennis or rubber ball and had no idea about competitive cricket till he was about 20-21 years old.
He was spotted in a local T20 tournament by a district-level cricket secretary, who invited him to come to play for Nagpur. He took 8 wickets in his first game and got invited to a “Top 30” summer camp.
But this proved to be his hardest challenge so far. On the very first day of the camp, he almost quit playing cricket. Yadav recalls, “The coach called me and asked me where my shoes were. I told him I didn’t have spikes and would have to bowl in my ordinary shoes. He became rude and offensive after that.”
“He said, ‘How can you come here to play if you don’t even have spikes. Kisi ko bhi bula lete hai khelne ke liye [they call just about anyone to play here]. Get lost.'”
That’s when Yadav almost quit his cricket journey. It was only after his friends convinced him that he decided to go back and continue onward.
The rest, as they say, is history. Yadav eventually went on to see massive success both in the IPL as well as for India. However, Yadav doesn’t see his story of struggle as exceptional. He says, “Everyone has had to struggle to some extent. I would never say that my struggle is greater than everyone else’s. All I can say is that self-belief is important. If you consistently believe that you will succeed at the highest level, then you will.”