Doctors know about the anatomy and physiology of the heart in the most literal fashion. They spend years, sometimes even lifetimes to research and gain newer knowledge about this matter. Dr. Yash Kashikar, the 25-year-old who hails from Wardha, Maharashtra, has also bided his time in labs, classrooms, and hospitals to attain formal education about the heart and more. But he is also an expert of the heart in the metaphorical sense, as he has passionately followed his own to work towards his dream of becoming a sports broadcaster.
A finalist in the 2016 ESPN Cricinfo Cricjockey contest, as of today, Dr Kashikar has written more than 250 sports-related articles, interviewed more than 75 sports personalities, and commentated in 50+ state and national level cricket matches. Furthermore, his chat show, Say Yash To Sports, has completed 30 episodes, received coverage by national media, and garnered views in excess of 100k.
He has essentially done all of this while sailing in two boats simultaneously. He says that one “might be a little confused about how this is possible. It’s not something one hears every day.” Hence, Sportz O’Clock decided to sit down and hear from the doctor-cum-sports-presenter directly…
“The idea of having the mic in my hand and talking to the world fascinated me.”
Talking about the origins of his journey, Kashikar tells, “I have always believed that effective storytelling has a distinctive power and potential to change the world. This thought has intrigued me the most in my life and that is why I was always attracted to the art of public speaking. The idea of being in the middle of the action with a microphone in my fists fascinated me and thus whether it was emceeing some event or participating in debate or elocution competitions, I somehow found ways to be on the stage since my school days. And at the same time, just like most Indians, I’m a huge, passionate cricket fan. In fact, for me, cricket is not merely a sport, but a life lesson.
Effectively as a youngster, my life revolved around the stage and sports and that is precisely why I always wanted to do something that kept me connected to it. So, my inclination towards sports media was invariably there, however, I wasn’t sure about how to go ahead with it as a career option back then. Also, I enjoyed studying biology and medicine being the mainstream course in India, eventually, I ended up pursuing it.
Then, how did ESPN Cricjockey happen for you?
“For the first year and a half after entering medical college, my passion for sports and storytelling had taken a backseat, since I found very little time from studies. However, towards the end of my second year of MBBS, when I was busy studying for my practical exam that was scheduled on the next day, one of my school friends, Atharva, messaged me and said that there was this competition called the ESPN Cricjockey. I simply acknowledged his message. But he kept on insisting that this competition was for me.”
Not losing touch with his sense of gratitude, Yash expresses, “I owe my little journey to that friend of mine because if he wouldn’t have messaged me, there was no way I was going to do anything towards this. I’ve realised over the last five or six years that the universe basically conspires in such a fashion that things automatically happen. You know that dialogue from the movie Om Shanti Om- “Kehte hain agar kisi cheez ko dil se chaho..toh puri kainaat usse tumse milane ki koshish mein lag jaati hai. Probably that had come true for me.”
Returning to his journey, he continues, “Finally, without any hope, I just gave a shot at that competition. For the first round, we had to commentate on some old cricketing videos. And to my surprise, a few days later I got a phone call from ESPN- They informed me that I was selected in the Top 25 of this competition.”
When destiny knocks, you open the gate, and that is what the doctor did. He relays, “On that call only, they notified me that if I get selected for the Top 8 round, it would happen in Mumbai, and inquired I was up for that or not. My exams were still going on, so in that split second, I had to choose between this competition and my exams, and I don’t know how, but I ended up choosing the former. The next day I got a call that I had made it to the Top 8 as well.”
That was the turning point of my life, and not just of my sports broadcasting career.
Also expressing what the whole ESPN Cricjockey experience meant for him, he states, “This entire thing happened so quickly that I didn’t get a chance to introspect. But a few days later, I figured out that I wasn’t looking at my life with a positive frame of mind. I was underestimating myself a bit too much. When I went for the studio round, I came to know that this competition had garnered more than 26000 entries from the entire country, and that is when I realised that if I was among the Top 8 out of those 26000 entries, then probably I had something in me, and yet I lacked the much-needed self-belief to go the distance. It was a realization point in my life where I grasped that our dreams don’t work until we do, and thus I had to do something towards achieving my dream. Whether it comes true or not is not in my hands, but working towards it and enjoying the journey surely is. So that was the turning point of my life, and not just of my sports broadcasting career.”
“I don’t really look at obstacles in terms of hardships… when you do something you love, you have to accept what comes along with it, and find a way out of those obstacles.
Asked to reveal the secret behind balancing his MBBS studies and sports journalism, Kashikar, humbly, states, When you do something you love, you have to accept whatever comes along with it- whether good or bad and find a way out of those obstacles. So I don’t really look at obstacles in terms of hardships. I worked on a strict schedule. Although it didn’t go according to plan every day, I still made efforts to stick with it.”
The doctor didn’t forget to acknowledge the role of his family & friends in his journey. “More than anything else, no matter how much I loved doing this, it wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t have the kind of family support which I do. My mother has been extremely supportive. She never stopped me from following my passion or never complained if I scored low in exams. She understood that it was my dream and wanted me to go for it. And my friends as well have stayed with me through thick and thin in this little journey. So that confidence that originated from my friends and family believing in me gave me the strength to balance the two things.”
How did Say Yash To Sports commence?
“After I came back from ESPN (Cricjockey), I started writing for a few sports websites. Almost a year later, I got a chance to interview players. And eventually, slowly but steadily things kept on happening. With time, I started meeting cricketers, developed good bonds with them, and covered local Ranji matches in Nagpur.
“But, more than writing, I was always inclined towards broadcasting. This pushed me to start my own chat show on YouTube. The first show was named Hit Wicket With Yash. On that show, former Indian cricketers- Deep das Gupta and Rohan Gavaskar were among my first few guests. Now, my show is called Say Yash To Sports.”
Explaining the ideology behind starting the show, Kashikar carries on, “When Covid struck last year, we all were deprived of live sporting action. That’s when I thought, ‘let’s do something to satiate the hunger of sports fans.’ Also, I wanted to give them a chance to interact with the players and thus came the idea of interviews on Instagram live(s). Most importantly, I wanted to put out stories that were not already there, such as the stories of domestic cricketers that would have made a material difference in the lives of these lesser-known players who sweat it out in front of empty stadiums, but probably do not get the recognition that they should.”
How did the show gain such traction in the cricketing world, at least domestically?
“The hope or goal of receiving coverage in national media didn’t cross my mind. After 8 episodes, I messaged Tino Best, the former West-Indian pacer and one of the fastest bowlers to have played this beautiful sport. And luckily he agreed to be on the show. And that interview went viral.
“Now, on Say Yash To Sports, we’ve completed 30 episodes, and have had more than 100k views across different platforms. Karn Sharma, Naman Ojha, Faiz Fazal, Siddharth Kaul, KS Bharat, Sachin Baby, Mohammed Azharuddeen have been on the show. The likes of Monty Panesar, Tino Best, Nick Compton, Kirk Edwards, and Olympian Chirag Shetty have also featured there.”
“Finding my style took a bit of time, but now I feel I’ve done that”
Talking about his idols and inspirations, Kashikar voices, “If you ask anyone interested in sports broadcasting, there’s a good chance that their idol is Harsha Bhogle. Such was my case too.
“When I started off making videos, probably because I looked up to him (Harsha Bhogle) too, maybe I tried to speak like him. It happened unintentionally, I didn’t actively try to speak in that particular manner. Finding my style took a bit of time, but now I feel I’ve done that, and I think that I can mould according to the situation or the emotion… I admire the likes of Harsha Bhogle and Jatin Sapru, but I also grasped that I need to have an original style of mine, my own way of doing things,” he continues.
“Cricket isn’t just a game for me, it’s a sentiment that has changed my outlook towards life.”
Reflecting on the value that cricket has added to his life, Kashikar expresses, “Cricket or sport, in general, has taught me that life doesn’t really go the way we want it to every time, but giving up should never really be an option. You win some, you lose some. In fact, you might fail more than you succeed, but that doesn’t mean that you stop playing the game. That’s what I have tried to inculcate in my life as well and that pushes me to strive harder towards my dream every single day irrespective of whatever comes along with it- good or bad.
On the bittersweet future of sports broadcasting in India…
“One good thing which has happened over the last few years or so is the emergence of different sporting leagues and its coverage in regional languages. These leagues have opened the avenues for career-making in Sports Broadcasting, especially if you have a penchant for different sports and command on multiple languages. Also, the rise of digital platforms has transformed the way people consume sports and created diverse career options in the industry.
“As far as cricket is concerned, even though the situation might not look pretty good at this point, I strongly believe that there should be a place for non-cricketers in the commentary box. The fact that they haven’t played the game at a certain level shouldn’t rob them of an opportunity. Hopefully, the tide will turn soon and we will see more non-cricketers behind the microphone.”
On the road ahead for him
Explaining his plans ahead, the doctor comments, “Ten years down the line when I sit back and introspect, I don’t want to live with a regret that I didn’t give my dream a chance. I know for a fact that I have chosen an unconventional path and the road ahead is only going to be tougher, but I believe that’s what makes it worth the risk as well. And I want to make an honest effort.
At the same time, I don’t want to shut any door completely at this point because it is pretty important to be flexible as well. So, let’s see where life takes me from here on.”