Once upon a time in Heaven, God was personally conducting interviews in the Cricket Desk of the Ministry of Soul Recycling. He sat on his throne and asked for the souls to approach him one at a time.
'What do you want to be in this birth?' God asked the first soul.
'I want to be the most productive cricketer of all times.'
'What will you do with this gift?'
'I will score centuries. I will make a mountain of runs. Every record in the game will belong to me.'
'So be it. You shall be born in the Tendulkar family in Mumbai. With this gift, I also give you a curse. Your prowess will be useless in moments that matter the most. Who's next?'
The second soul approached, bowed and said:
'What you are to the world, I want to be in the cricket field.'
'Fool! You dare compete with me? I can punish you by making you a football player. In India, mind you, not Europe or Latin America. But since you spoke your mind, I shall grant half your wish. You shall rule the off side. Your cover drives will be elegant and impossible. But the short-pitched ball will remind you of my wrath. You'll be a leader like me, but your leadership will also bring you unimaginable pressures. Now go. Be born in the Ganguly household in Kolkata! Next!!'
The third soul came and stood timidly in front of God.
'A shy one, are you? Are you aware that you can't ask for gifts I've already given away?'
'I am. Let me also be aware of the state of the game at all times. Let me have the ability to stay at the crease. I want to be the immovable object.'
'Interesting. What will you do with this ability?'
'I will do more than you intended me to.'
'I'd like to see that happen. I grant you your wish. But I will also restrict your array of strokes. You'll labour even when others sizzle. You'll play second fiddle to perfection, even when you deserve the top spot. Go now, to Indore and take birth in the Dravid household. Next!!'
'You're a bit of a terror, aren't you?' the fourth soul asked.
'And you, young thing, are outspoken. I like that. What do you want?'
'I want my eyes and my hands to be become one holistic magic organ. They must always be in sync.'
'And your goal?'
'I will be the most feared batsman in the world. I will play the most memorable innings in the history of the game. My shots will be audacious, my attitude even more so.'
'Yes. Yes, of course! But your curse is that your eyes and hands will decouple from your brain at inopportune times. No bowler will ever dismiss you. Your brain will assign that task to itself. It's only fit that you be born a Jat. Go to Delhi and be a Sehwag. Next!! Who's next? I don't see anybody.'
'That's because I'm prostrating before you, my Lord.'
Pleased by this soul, God rose from his throne and came up to him.
'Tell me, my child, what can I give you? The others have taken the most glorious gifts in the game. Can you think of something that can still make you special?'
'I want to win games for my country. More games than anybody ever has. I want to deliver when the chips are down.'
'Ah! My child. I see that the others have missed asking for the most special gift of all. It's yours. I shall add to it. You shall wield your bat like a magic wand. You shall thus mesmerize your opposition. You will look clumsy and be graceful. Your wrists shall make the Australians weep. Your morality will be a shining example to others. And you shall display all those gifts with a humble and steely mind.'
'Lord, what's my curse?' the soul asked.
'I'm afraid, my child, that no matter how well you perform, people will forget you exist. You'll spend your life proving yourself again and again.'
'That doesn't sound so bad.'
'It isn't. Because I shall be watching. And I will remember every magic act you perform on the field. Now go to Hyderabad. Assume the longest name in the game. You will hereafter be called Vangipurappu Venkata Sai Laxman. And since people will not be able to remember that, they will call you Laxman. Except when you dazzle. They will then remember you to be Very Very Special Laxman.'