How BPL taught cricket to Bollywood actress Elena Kazan

Actress Elena Kazan grew up in the USSR; by the time she was six, she knew ballet, ice hockey, figure skating and gymnastics.

Elena Kazan interacts with the media at an event in Hyderabad.

 

Growing up in the USSR, an admiration for sports and athletic achievements was instilled in the general population. The country was still basking in the glory of the 1980 summer Olympics, which was held in Moscow with great pomp and success of Soviet athletes, who won a record of 80 gold medals.

Consequently, parents were eager to enrol their children in a variety of sports clubs from a young age. My parents dragged me through ballet, ice hockey, figure skating, and competitive gymnastics by the time I was six!

The one that stuck the longest was ice hockey, which basically involved a bunch of five year-olds trying to get the puck into the net and falling on top of each other in the process; and parents scrambling onto the ice to pick up their children and put them back on their feet.

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We then moved to Germany, and in this football-loving country, I witnessed so much enthusiasm for the sport while sharing public transportation with angry or elated Hertha BSC or FC Bayern Munich fans coming from a won or lost game.

During my high-school years in the US, I had a brief brush with wrestling, which ended in the try out itself, when a decidedly larger girl just threw me on the mat and sat on me. Faced with my lack of strength, I decided to enrol into the weightlifting team, run by a sports teacher with the apt name — Mr. Steel.

But the sport that left the biggest impression on me is cricket. Everyone knows how epic and impressive in its inherent theatrical performance cricket can be. And I too was swept off my feet. Specifically, I had the chance to anchor part of the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), a couple of years ago. Not knowing much about the sport, and not much time left before the league started, I frantically called my friends, asking them to talk to me about the game, read books about cricket non-stop.

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And then, on the field, I spent as much time as possible in the media centre listening raptly to cricket commentary and following two games a day, trying to unlock the game’s secrets. I got to love the turf report with its specific lingo, attention to detail and the subtle humour of the commentators. On field, in small towns of Bangladesh, I met players from Jamaica, UK, Pakistan, and of course Bangladesh. The production team behind the scenes was composed of people from Australia, UK, and Pakistan and the show that was created made me understand why everybody in the sub-continent is so crazy about this game. Those were great memories.

Elena Kazan is an actress and model

As told to Shayan Acharya