He was a rebel who left home in his formative years to find answers to the turbulent questions his mind asked. During that period he slept on pavements and in parks and made his money as a hustler in snooker parlours.
He has come a long way from those searching times. Now Murali Vijay has called time on his international career with 3982 runs, with 12 hundreds, in 61 Tests at 38.28.
Respect and dignity
No batter from Tamil Nadu has made more runs. And he departs with his respect and dignity intact.
In a statement on Monday, Vijay said, “My journey from 2002-2018 has been the most wonderful years of my life for it was an honour representing India at the highest level of sport.”
He thanked the BCCI, TNCA, Chennai Super Kings and Chemplast Sanmar for their support.
To comprehend Vijay, you need to travel to his early days when he flunked the 12th standard exams. A ‘bad boy’, he had to change eight schools before reaching 12th.
He told Sportstar in an interview, “If you set a wild dog into the open, it will run to search for its freedom. It was like that for me.”
Vijay revealed, “I wanted to find myself, what I was made of, what I wanted in life.”
He hated school. “My mind was always on the ground, outside the walls of my classroom.”
Cricket was his freedom. It challenged him. Even after becoming an established India player, he would practise for hours in the Chemplast nets under his coach G. Jayakumar.
His technical purity as an opener stemmed from that quest for perfection.
Brilliance at Gabba
The images of him fighting fire flash before one’s eye. Day one of 2014 Test on a fresh Gabba pitch at Brisbane, the hot bed for pacemen. Vijay counter-attacked the short-pitched fliers with cuts and pulls. When the ball was pitched up, he cover-drove and flicked gloriously. It was a blood and guts 144.
His sound back-foot play his strength, Vijay made 482 runs at 60.25 in that series Down Under.
In England earlier, he ‘played and left’ with great judgement around off-stump, countering the swing of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad, to notch up a highly creditable 402 runs in five Tests at 40.20.
The secret of Vijay’s success was his body balance, the straight back-swing and the ability to play with a still head.
Vijay, the rebel, found his answer in cricket.