How do you make your debut for India at age 27?
If we look at the stories of every player who has made it to the India side in the last 5 years, there is one element that is common.
This element is the same from the spin of Ashwin to the batting of Kohi. It never changes regardless of fielding skill, personality or potential.
So if you want to be the next Sharma, Rahane or anyone else you need to know this element.
It's the only way to pull on the shirt.
What is it?
To understand it, let's go back to the first time Sachin picked up a bat.
I wasn't there, but I know for a fact he was terrible.
He may have had huge potential, he may have had a talent given to him by a greater power, but as a young cricketer he made a huge number of mistakes.
He was young. He had to learn technique, he had to develop a method of play that suited him.
And that meant trying different things.
Things that didn't work.
Things that lead to failure upon failure.
It might seem an obvious thing to say, but if you had given Sachin a debut at age 10 instead of 16 he would have failed awfully. He wasn't ready. He was still learning and developing. He was making many mistakes.
Of course - like all Internationals - he learned fast from his errors. He became a master at the basics of a straight bat and peerless concentration.
But it was all those mistakes that really made the difference.
For it's through the bad times that you learn how to be good. This is the secret element of becoming an Indian cricketer.
All Indians have stories like this.
Everyone from Sunil Gavaskar onwards can tell you how they failed as a young player. How they felt that they could never make the grade. But they kept going against the odds, perhaps even against the advice of their elders.
It's like the man who wants to build his own house.
He has a dream of the perfect place to live, he feels like he will be happy when it is complete.
But he has never built a house. He is not a builder.
If he tried to build the house it would be an expensive failure.
But if he started small he could make mistakes along the way.
Perhaps he starts by building a birdhouse. It won't be very good. But he perseveres until he can build a birdhouse that looks good.
Then he can move up to something larger like a shelter. Eventually his skills will grow so he can build the house he wants. It will take many hours of work and many years to get there.
But he has to start with that bad birdhouse and a lot of grit.
And you have to start with the same grit and the same rediness to make a lot of mistakes and to take a long time with many setbacks to reach your goal.
Most people will give up long before they play for India.
But those who make it will all have the same story as you; that you built a lot of bad stuff before you learned how to be good.