Although disability of any kind is a hindrance for a person but it completely depends on that person whether he/she perceives the disability as a mere weakness or try to transform it in a means of progress and improvement in the life. Shekhar Naik is a person who has made the disability of blindness not his weakness but a reason to move on and to do something unique in the life. He was a complete blind since his birth but his sheer passion and determination to play cricket in his life led him to become the Captain of the Indian Blind Cricket Team and also led India to win the World Cricket Champion title in the year 2012 (in which the Indian blind cricket team defeated the England team in the first ever T20 Blind World Tournament in Bangalore). Blindness was basically a hereditary disability transferred to him since his maternal grandfather, his mother and her four sisters were also blind. Cricket has been Shekhar’s first love and passion; all he has thought of is becoming a good cricketer all through his life. His blindness never held him back nor he ever felt weak or disheartened rather he has embraced his disability with dignity and courage and despite of thinking what he cannot do due to his disability he has tried to focus on what he can actually do and want to do.
Shekhar Naik was born in 1986 in the district Shimoga, Karnataka in a not so financially sound and a less privileged family. For about 8 years (1986-1994) he suffered from blindness but an event suddenly gave a new turn to his life. He fallen down in a canal and eventually his mother took him to the hospital where luckily some eye specialists from Bangalore had arrived for organizing an eye-check up camp. After undergoing the eye check-up it was told to Shekhar’s mother that his eye sight could be brought back with the help of an operation since his retina was still in a good condition. Thus he underwent an eye operation and successfully his right eye got back 60% of vision but his left eye still had no sight and nothing could be done for the same.
Shekhar was just a small boy when his father died who was very protective for him; he never wanted to send Shekhar to any school or hostel and wanted to stay with him all the times. Soon after the father’s death, boy’s mother admitted him a blind school namely; Shri Sharada Devi School for Blind in the Shimoga district. The boy had keen interest in playing cricket than in studies in the school and that is when he started playing cricket and played his first ever cricket match as a keeper, at the State level. Though Shekhar’s mother wanted him to excel in studies and education but his passion for the game impressed her a lot and she eventually motivated him to play cricket with high spirit and zeal. Shekhar now took this as a challenge for him and made a strong promise to his mother as well as to himself that he would certainly play cricket to win it one day and also to do something unique so that his name reaches nationwide and also in the field of cricket. Since that day his life was completely devoted to cricket. Shekhar gives a big credit to his school’s physical trainer whose strict discipline helped him to improve his playing skills.
The year 1998 turned out to be horribly saddening for him because in this year his mother was expired. Earlier in 1994 his father died and now mother’s death left him with an immense shock. There was no care-taker, for a moment life seemed tough to this blind boy but he did not give up and in a very small age he experienced the harsh realities of life. He began to work at the farm felids during the summer vacations, from which he used to earn around Rs 1000 (INR) – Rs. 1500 (INR) which was enough for his meals and clothing for the whole year. But no one and nothing could replace the care, love and concern of the parents that Shekhar has lost.
In the year 2000, in a tournament held in Mandya, Shekhar Naik scored 136 runs in 46 balls and after that he got selected in the Karnataka Team of South Zone to play as an Opening Batsman. In a match in Belgaum Karnataka and Kerala teams were battling wherein Shekhar scored 249 runs in a one-day match. Another stepping stone was the under- 18 Tournament held in Hyderabad in the year 2001 where Shekhar was felicitated with the ‘Man of the Series Award’. This success helped him a lot in getting selected in the World Cup Team 2002. In the world cup he was awarded as the Man of the Series twice a time, against Srilanka and Australia. Then in the year 2004, the Indian team went to Pakistan where they played 5 matches with the Pakistani team although Pakistani team won at last but in a match held in Shekpur, Shekhar scored 198 Runs against Pakistan which is his highest International Score. In the year 2005, in a series held in Delhi, he again achieved the Man of the Match.
In the year 2006, Shekhar Naik was the only person from his Karnataka team who finally got selected to play in the Indian team, the same year proved out to be very successful as he bagged awards consecutively, ‘Best Batsman’, three; ‘Man of the Match’, and ‘Man of the Series’. In a match against England in the year 2007 he was awarded twice as the ‘Man of the Match’ and finally in the year 2010 his all hard-work paid off as he was selected as the Captain of the Indian Cricket Team for Blind. In the year 2012 it was the first ever time that T20 World Cup for the Blind took place and it was also the most remarkable moment for the Indian Cricket Team for Blind to have triumphed the World Cup 2012.
And now in the last year 2014 once again the Indian Cricket Team for Blind has bagged the cup of victory in Blind Cricket World Cup in South Africa under the captaincy of Shekhar Naik. He gives the huge credit to the noble organization namely, “Samarthanam” running under the leadership of legendary man Mr Mahantesh G K, Shekhar joined Samarthanam in the year 2005 and since then he never looked back.
Says Shekhar Naik that, “Visually impaired cricketers don’t just play for money, jobs, fame or happiness. We play to gain confidence; we play to prove that a blind man can do anything. Playing cricket gives us that extra motivation and energy”. This is a unique example of courage and mental strength when even a disability becomes like a mole and impact-less. When a disabled person like him can achieve such great heights then why cannot a person without any disability? The young generation should look again into the struggle full journey of Shekhar and should understand that even after having a disability he has become victorious in his life because he has overcome the fears of his mind. It is only the fear and insecurity of the person that pulls him back from doing something great and not the disability or any hurdle.