Hyderabad: Some time ago, cricketer G. H. Vihari was struggling to get into the third rung of the St Andrews School sides. He had actually cried after faring poorly at the selections. On Tuesday he returned to his alma mater as member of the world No.1 Indian Test team... and got emotional again.
The 25-year-old attended the school assembly, sang the anthem, answered curious questions, took selfies with students, signed autographs for them, went around the place and also took a seat in his old classroom, much to the delight of youngsters at the school’s Bowenpally branch.
“I was in sixth class when John Manoj sir (coach, former secretary of the Hyderabad Cricket Association and Sports Director of St Andrews School, at whose academy Vihari honed his skills) sent me for selections of the school’s third team. Those days we had three teams — first, second and third. You had to graduate from the third team to the first. I remember crying as I couldn’t get runs initially. However, by the time I was in Class X, I was captain of the school’s first team,” Vihari told the kids, triggering thunderous applause.
“St Andrews has played a huge role in moulding my career and I’m grateful. I was also given a scholarship which meant I did not have to pay fees — it became easy for my (financially modest) family,” he added.
From there he graduated to the highest grade of game last year, and has played four Tests so far. “To walk into the Indian team’s dressing room was intimidating; there were so many great players around!”
“To share the room with a great player like Virat Kohli was amazing. Later, he spoke to me about the challenges of international cricket and helped me settle down. It was a dream for me and I want to live that dream as long as possible. I am embracing and enjoying all the moments,” Vihari, who now drives a swanky BMW, added.
Vihari also said Sachin “Tendulkar is the reason why I started playing cricket. I used to watch him on television when I was young. Whenever he used to get out, I used to cry. He was my hero.’’
Mother Vijayalakshmi is his heroine. “She has been a rock throughout my career and has sacrificed a lot to help me achieve whatever I have. On coming to know of my selection in the Indian team, the first person I called was my mother. She was in tears upon hearing the news,” he recalled.
“Then, I called John Manoj sir who has been my mentor from a very young age; he was over the moon as well. Later, my phone was flooded with congratulatory messages and calls, which made me realise that I had achieved something. It was a proud moment,” he said to loud cheers.
Vihari told schoolkids he “was very good at studies, social studies being the least favourite subject” though.
If not for cricket, he “would have been an engineer or a doctor.”
The batsman listed “getting pulled up by teachers and cheering our basketball team from the balcony’’ as among his unforgettable memories from school days as the kids meandered into some mischief.
On a serious note, he exhorted the students to be honest and not let pressure get to them. “Work hard in all honesty. Don’t compete with others, but yourself. That is the best way to come out good,” Vihari said.
Boy! That’s maturity....