CHENNAI: It’s perhaps less of a surprise that the other hobbies of a man used to the loneliness of the long innings include surfing and swimming.
So when not lining up to subdue the whims of the shiny red cherry, or unblinkingly awaiting devious deflections at the slips, India opener Murali Vijay is pulled by the thrills of the sands and waves.
“I’m a beach person. I like that mode where you are thrown in and you need to survive and you are questioned. So I like to fight within my own level. I like this thrill and it excites me a lot,” he confesses.
But he admits he hasn’t mastered swimming. “I love swimming. But I won’t say I’m a good swimmer. But I like to survive,” he asserts.
The survival part goes without saying, for, it had shone throughout the recent tours to England and Australia.
While he had always wanted to surf, it was Aussie legend Matthew Hayden who ignited his interest.
“I have spoken to him about the kind of waves he has rode on. I always used to ask him about it and inside I used to feel, damn, I got to be doing this. I wanted to make time for it. I like watching surfing videos and Paddy Upton (Team India’s mental conditioner) too is a great surfer and he told me how surfing relaxes a person. It’s the best I’ve tried so far,” he recounts.
There were times he had fallen deep. “It was fun. You are entering unknown territory and no one can predict Nature. So you need to keep it within your space and limits,” he said. While he has mastered the art of leaving the ball outside the off-stump, he acknowledges, he is not quite adept in breaking the wave. But given the application he had shown in upgrading his batsmanship, it’s just a matter of time before he mastered the waves too. For the 31-year-old, his son is a ‘new-found love’. Though he is not forcing him into any particular sport, Vijay wants him to experience the joy of playing games. “This is the time he can choose and enjoy any sport. I took him to surfing and he enjoyed it.”