In an age where cricket is maybe fast becoming a story narrated by numbers that factor in only the end-result, but not quite the effort and passion involved, what’s next?
Where does a cricketer find himself in the narrative that as of today, begins and ends merely with wins and losses, runs scored and wickets taken, catches grabbed and partnerships made?
What about the one who creates chances, gives the team that shot at victory?
It could be someone who, given the sheer chances afforded in a national jersey, rather the lack of it, strived to create an impact.
For instance, when you think of Virat in “that mega knock” in the World Cup in Australia in 2022, you tend to think of the two sixes against Rauf.
But what if and just for a second think, what might have happened if Ashwin, who batted ever so little in that inning, failed to hit the winning shot against the Nawaz?
The win for India came off the last ball.
Billions know Virat had the pressure on him. But was Ashwin’s impact not crucial; the all rounder hitting the winning runs amid much panic?
Against that narrative, as fans where would you place a cricketer who played a part for the team and still is despite having not been afforded that many chances?
And one more since being constantly quizzed is often a way of life anyway, isn’t it?
What would you say about someone whose greater successes came outside the perimeter of national representation since as fate would have it, things had clearly started changing in the modern-day game?
To the mind that’s used to consuming loads of stats caring little about the deeper picture that lies outside numbers, Rayad Emrit is a cricketer.
This is a cricketer who has 4 T20 internationals to his name for the West Indies, a team that were once considered a bastion of cricketing excellence.
And he’s that cricketer who has just 2 ODI’s to his credit.
And that’s that.
However, just as the phrase “the river runs deep,” isn’t merely a cool statement used by posers, Rayad Emrit has more depth to him than what the average cricketing joe would understand.
Interestingly, Emrit the surname rhymes with a rather pious liquid believed to be of holy proportions.
In the Hindu verbiage and you can refer to any dictionary you love, the term Amrit means a “Divine Syrup.”
As true as Tom Cruise being the biggest action star of his generation and Lara being the best left hander the West Indies produced since Sir Sobers.
Truth be told, and am merely stating it out there, Rayad Emrit’s devotion to the game and the simplicity that’s hard to miss is pretty much Amrit-like.
It’s that easy to spot. Hard to ignore.
Chat him up for two minutes or maybe less on what cricket means to him and how he sees himself playing a role in his post-Windies career, and he’d come up with the most interesting responses in the simplest of ways.
There’s no posturing and never a need to be explicitly passionate when he says, “Dasun Shanaka is the key man for Sri Lanka,” or when he muses in his easygoing tone, “Bas de Leede is the one to watch out for in The Netherlands camp.”
I was fortunate to interact with this easy going Trinidadian who hails from the land of my cricket idol: Brian Charles Lara.
Though am sure, The Prince himself would love to listen to this mild-mannered and very determined cricketer when he shares his views on the game that, by self- admission, drives him to life.
“I’m very happy to be back in the Legends League and excited to play again for Gujarat; they’re a fine franchise and look after players well. Hopefully, we can take a couple of steps further and play even better, get into the finals and win it,” replies the calm voice over phone when I asked him what his impressions were about the Legends League 2023 edition that’s in the UAE.
But here’s the best part, one that holds the key to understanding what this lad is about.
“I see myself as someone who still has a lot to give back to Cricket, I’m playing and coaching and doing commentary.”
To those among us who may have seen little of Rayad and of course, it comes as no surprise since our attention often rests only with the Williamsons, Smiths, Kohlis and Roots of the world, the right-arm fast- medium has been playing T20 cricket since 2006.
Someone with no fewer than 84 first-class games, 72 List-A games and not to forget, 146 T20s from which he’s picked 160 wickets, Rayad is an active cricketer and been quite the globetrotter in the past half a decade.
And that’s when his coaching and mentoring responsibilities are separate; an area where perhaps so many of former internationals can still play their part irrespective of what nation they’ve played or what jersey they’ve worn.
“I think I can always give back to the sport. Currently, am coaching the Under-17 team, the Assistant coach of the Trinidad and Tobago national team, so that’s where I see my role; to give back to the sport that’s given me a lot.”
At an age where several of his contemporaries are probably either away from active sport and could well be updating the next Insta reel to find relevance in an age of hashtags, here’s Rayad Emrit, an original amid an era of tags and taglines.
The former West Indian cricketer is perhaps among the busiest you could find around.
And yet, he’ll make time, come what may, to speak to you all things cricket, which is when completing a backbreaking day that could have begun as early as dot 7 am requiring him to coach and mentor would see him in the grind until well after 7 evening time.
Here’s Rayad Emrit- a man who talks softly and talks with reason- in an age where several are simply caught up in the urgency to be just heard.
Always mellow, always kind, there’s more to Rayad Emrit from Trinidad and Tobago than meets the eye and appears in the mind.
Perhaps it’s quite a loss of the fan that in an age where many West Indian cricketers such as Gayle, Pollard and Bravo were living out of a suitcase making a career travelling the world for T20 leagues, still mushrooming as we speak, not an awful lot was spent to appreciate that others too were around as they still are. Some of them perhaps fitter than many familiar ones…. carrying on with their job with the focus eschewing loud announcements that often blur the lines between hype and substance.
Gayle, a veteran of the game will always be loved and why shouldn’t it be?
But are the big legends, the crowd pulling names, the only ones from the marvel called the West Indies who are at it?
Perhaps time has come to free our minds of the narratives we Cricket Journalists are guilty of painting; of ego massaging just the big names and their doting fans, many of whom are today troll armies who spend sleepless nights to put others down while the real beauty is in appreciating the magic that each individual brings to the game.
Here’s to Rayad Emrit and his future ambitions; a man who’s not part of the crowd and still an individual when in it.
image courtesy– Rayad Emrit Instagram