I will always hold 2012 close to my heart. It was in the year gone by that I returned to sports journalism after a two-and-a-quarter year ‘break’. Messages from friends saying they were pleased to see me back in sports pages made me feel welcome again in the fraternity that otherwise competes with one another for exclusives.
Besides my regular beat, which has now become everybody’s, cricket, my sports editor Vijay Tagore gave me the opportunity to enter previously untested waters, badminton, while also giving me the chance to re-establish my swimming contacts.
Though I have never covered a match involving badminton stars, including Saina Nehwal, it gave me a chance to tap their minds on a regular basis. My entry to badminton was made easier with Saina winning back-to-back tournaments in Thailand and Indonesia in June. Also, a pleasant surprise was the access to the country’s leading shuttlers and coach P Gopichand.
The shuttlers, sure, were not available at the first phone call as it needed some repeated attempts but I did not mind it. One moment that I will always cherish in 2012 was interviewing badminton legend Prakash Padukone, a childhood hero, at the Bombay Gymkhana at an event to mark the 50-day countdown to London Olympics. Coincidentally, the interview was published on his birthday.
The year also marked my ‘Test debut’ after being a second reporter in a few Tests from the time I entered sports journalism in 1999. It was the first Test of the season against New Zealand that ended in four days, Cheteshwar Pujara scoring his first Test hundred. Virat Kohli missed his hundred but both seemed to have filled the spaces left blank by the retirements of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman.