To have played 100 Tests for India is proof of both effort and determination, and Harbhajan has overcome many obstacles in getting this far. Between the time he made his debut for India and his 2001 breakout series, he ran into trouble at the NCA, had difficulties with his action, was dropped from the team, and lost his father, which made him the sole earning member of his family at 20. I remember talking to him about that time, and he told me that he had had thought of migrating to the US and earning a livelihood driving trucks [emphasis added].
Two points: one, it’s very rare for cricketers to talk in specific terms about the sacrifices — and, often, the impossibly difficult choices — they have to make. Every young kid in India wants to be a national cricketer, but you have to be a little insane to still want it after you become a teenager and realize the arduous path to achieving the goal. You have to be completely crazy to pursue cricket (especially in pre-IPL money days) when you know that your family could face potential ruin if you fail.
Two: Rahul Dravid is an incredible writer; a much better writer than commentator (in my view). I take a dim view of the recent trend to turn the commentary squad into a band of ex-cricketers; often times, I think amateurs and ardent spectators make for better dialogue. But if we must have ex-cricketers, then I want them to do what Dravid does — to explain the strange, surreal world of being an international cricketer without devolving into pointless nostalgia (a la Gavaskar), worn-out catch-phrases (a la Shastri) or braggadocio (a la Shane Warne). For all the new camera angles and HD technology, the experience of being a modern sportsmen remains a mystery to most. Dravid has made me understand Harbhajan just a little better now. (Which isn’t to say I loathe him any less.)