How does one become a fan of a cricketer? First you need to love the sport. Only then would you slowly realise a player's role in the team, his potential, and how consistent he is. The focus then shifts to that individual: the fan is eager to see his role model perform. Well, this is just one view.
Coming to the Chennai Super Kings, the yellow brigade gets maximum support even in away games. It may be partially because of our 'captain cool' MS Dhoni. But there are three other reasons for me. A player's fan following depends not only on his performances but also other factors, like their reaction to a situation on the field or even instances when they are not playing.
Reason One: Michael Hussey
He may not be part of Super Kings in all seasons and may not be their go-to opener, but given a chance, he will definitely prove he is not the one to be warming the bench. But that's not the main reason that made me love this man. Watching the match at the ground gave me more reasons. In the scorching heat at Chepauk, everyone from the playing XI is indoors. There's no sign of anyone until half an hour before the toss, apart from Hussey that is. He comes out with the coach and a net bowler and gets on with hitting ball after ball: on drive, off drive, straight drive. He then gets into some fielding drills and entertains a scattered crowd with his skills. Once the rest of the team comes out for a quick warm-up, he chooses to be the coach. The entire team lines up to field the balls he throws. After the toss, the crowd comes to know that he's not in the playing XI. Sigh! Match begins. It doesn't matter if Super Kings are batting or fielding. An over is done and Hussey sprints on to the field with drinks; a wicket falls and Hussey is the first man to jump and sprints on to the field with drinks. He would have gone in at the end of an over and a wicket falls the first ball of the next. Doesn't matter. He will happily carry the drinks again. Definitely 'Mr Cricket'.
Reason Two: Brendon McCullum
He gained more fans after leading New Zealand through a wonderful World Cup campaign in 2015. But he must be loving his stint with Super Kings. No captaincy, no wicketkeeping. His only task is to go out and play out the 20 overs with no reduction in the pace of scoring. For a man who comes from a cold place, one wonders how he manages to keep himself going inside a furnace. When he bats for a longer period, he gasps for breath in between but keeps himself energised with fluids. When fielding, he is always in the thick of action: diving, jumping, and saving boundaries. Baz the real 'Popeye the sailor man'!
Reason Three: Suresh Raina
This man has not missed a single match for Super Kings. Coming in at No. 3, Raina is definitely the king of Super Kings. When he is out there batting, the team has no worries. His cricketing skills need not be talked about. Let's talk something else. How about the moment when he pulled Doug Bollinger's hair? Ouch for Bollinger, but everyone who watched it loved that moment. He enjoys every bit of his play. Being at the ground one will understand how tough it is being Raina. He comes out to bat amid huge cheers: a roar inside the lion's den. The whole crowd keeps shouting 'Raina, Raina… sixer, sixer' when he is at the crease. It's more difficult to be Raina the fielder. When he fields at cover, the stand behind him calls for his attention and he turns and waves; when he fields at long-on, the stand behind calls for his attention and he turns with a smile and waves; when he fields in the slips, the stand far far behind him shouts 'Raina, Raina' and he gracefully responds and waves to the crowd, smiles at Dhoni besides him and turns his attention back to the game. The whole of Chepauk once again roars. He does often during a match. No anger, no frustration. Only a wave and smile.
There are many more reasons to love Chennai Super Kings but these three will make you admire them. Let's whistle podu for this awesome threesome. Three cheers for the yellow brigade.
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