Tinu Yohannan, a former Indian bowler, returned to the cricket field as the bowling coach for the Kerala state team from 2014-2018. He is now in charge of the academy structure and coaching system in Kerala.
I came from an athletic family. My dad, T.C. Yohannan, was the first Asian to jump 8 meters in the long jump. Seeing him do so well in athletics, it became my own ambition to reach athletic success. I trained hard, and after doing so, was able to represent my state in a few events in the high jump during my school years. Then during my final years of school, I developed an affinity for the game of cricket. When I started playing this game, I realized I had a talent for bowling fast. I decided to give it a try and soon understood that I might be able to make it big in this game.
By God’s grace, I was given the opportunity to train with one of the world’s top bowling coaches, Dennis Lillee, a former bowler from Australia. For five years under his teaching, I learned everything there was to know about the sport. In 2001, I was given the opportunity to represent my country, India, on the national team. This was a dream come true — not only for me, but for my state of Kerala, on the southern tip of India. No one from Kerala had ever made the national team before! It was a big achievement to represent my state and my country in this sport.
In my debut match in December 2001, during my first over, I got a wicket with the fourth ball I bowled! I was immediately successful on the new pitch. At the age of 21 years old, I felt like I had made it. No one could destroy me! And no one could take this sport away from me. I lived for this moment. I even had the chance to play on the same team with my idol, Sachin Tendulkar!
I traveled and played on the national team for another two years, until in 2003 when I suffered some injuries. Initially I thought I could make it back to the limelight; I thought I was invincible. But when the opportunity never came back to me, reality struck me that it’s not that easy. For four years I worked extra hard in practice, but even after all this effort, I couldn’t get back on the team.
Having been brought up in a Christian home, I was used to prayer and Bible reading. I was a so-called “good Christian,” reading the Bible every day and praying with my family. But it wasn’t until I began to lose my position on the cricket field when I suddenly realized my need to get closer to God. Something in me had made me believe that when I reached a certain goal, I would find peace and rest. When that didn’t happen, I began to look to God. He began to bring various people in my life — people I didn’t know until that point — who told me that God had a purpose and a plan for me. They told me I didn’t have to worry, that He would take care of me.
I began to seek and understand God’s Word more. Then in May of 2007, the real u-turn happened in my life. I suddenly understood not only who God is, but who Jesus Christ is. I used to pray to God and read my Bible, but before this moment I had never really grasped who Jesus was. I began to understand that Christ died for me, giving His life up for me so that I may have life in Him. He is God and He is living within me.
This revelation changed my life immediately! As I met with my pastor that day, I could feel my life turning around. It was at that point that I knew that the God of Heaven is with me and He loves me. This indescribable realization gave me new life.
God spoke to me very clearly that day, letting me know that He is the One who gives life. Nothing else is worth losing our souls over. Everything I do is for God because He is the One who gives me real life and peace through Jesus Christ. This revelation relieved me from all anxiety, fear and pressure. All the burdens I carried with me throughout my cricket career were immediately taken away.
From that day on, every time I entered the cricket field, I knew it wasn’t me anymore; God was doing the work through me. The Bible says in Romans 6:4, “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” I’m not the old Tinu. I live in Jesus Christ and He in me. He is the One who leads me.
My favorite verse in the Bible is Psalm 32:8, which says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My loving eye on you.” This truth has become a reality and a pillar in my life, giving me a lot of strength.
Whatever you might gain in this world — a name, fame, money — it’s not worth comparing to life with Christ. Your soul is more precious than anything the world has to offer. There’s only one way to save your soul and that is through Jesus Christ. He is the only way to the Father. The real joy I experience today is through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
— Tinu Yohannan, Indian cricketeer