The vice-captain of the Indian Test cricket team Ajinkya Rahane has become a vital part of the red-ball roster over the years. His presence in the middle-order normally brings a sense of calm to the skipper Virat Kohli who can put his faith in the Mumbaikar to shoulder the burden. That’s the kind of confidence and talent he brings to the table.
However, the 31-year-old wasn’t always this self-assured and there were two major reasons behind it. One was the fact that he was very shy since his childhood and two, he hesitated in conversing in English during his early years with the squad.
We got in touch with the cricketer to speak about his fear with the language, how he overcame it eventually and how he wants to help millions of Indians who are struggling in their daily lives due to the fact that they aren’t comfortable speaking in English.
“When I was a student at SV Joshi High School in Dombivli near Mumbai, I only used to play cricket and attending all the classes wasn’t possible. Back then I was there, it was a Marathi-medium school and speaking in English wasn’t a priority.”
“I remember my first tour to Dubai when I was 14-years-old for the U15 Asia Cup, and it was then that I realised that I had to learn the language if I wanted to be confident in front of international athletes.”
“My first U19 tour in New Zealand was also a big wake-up call for me. In India, with your teammates, you can talk to them in Hindi and you are fine but when you are travelling, Hindi won’t take you that far. From small things like ordering food and asking for directions to more important things like adding to your confidence and self-belief, learning the language played a big role in all of that,” Rahane said.
“During the first few years of my international cricketing career, I used to get a little shy and nervous when I wanted to ask a question to any foreign player or when I needed to know something about the pitch by the groundsman,” he added.
“Whenever I used to play a good match and it was my time to get interviewed, I always kept my answers short and tried to be done with the questions as quickly as possible because I didn’t want to make a mistake,” Rahane opened up.
It is because of this reason that Rahane partnered with ELSA Corp which acts as a personal virtual pronunciation coach to help others get over the same problem more efficiently and quickly than the cricketer did himself.
“I used to keep thinking about things like what if I made a mistake, what if I mispronounce a word, what will people think of me. ELSA can help you look after all that. It is just an app which looks after the way you speak, nobody is watching you or judging you. So even if you screw up, you won’t feel shy and will be able to work on your errors better,” he said.
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Photo:© Reuters (Main Image)