By Nadim Memon | Opening Doorz Editorial | March 02, 2017
Dil ke armaan aansuon mein beh gaye; Hum wafa karke bhi tanha reh gaye (The desires of the heart turned to tears and flowed away; Although I was loyal, I ended up being alone!)
Reading the ‘humble’ reactions of Bishen Singh Bedi and Sunil Gavaskar on Padmakar Shivalkar and Rajinder Goel, after a three-member Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) committee comprising Ramchandra Guha, Diana Edulji and N Ram nominated them for the Col CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award, I was moved to tears… of laughter!
The heaping of praises now, is nothing short of giving the age-old adage “Rubbing salt in one’s wounds” a whole new meaning.
Bedi, the former India spinner, has been lavish in his praise: “I’m very happy for them. They had what makes a good spinner—technique and temperament. I really used to revere them,” he is quoted to have said in an English daily.
In a statement mailed to The Hindu which has been published, Gavaskar said: “One of the regrets I have is that, as the then captain of the Indian team, I could not convince my fellow selectors to pick Goel saab and ‘Paddy’ to play for India.”
Both these former cricketers are really funny. It was ‘these two’ who were responsible in the first place of ensuring that ‘those two’ never played for India!
Both these former cricketers are really funny. It was ‘these two’ who were responsible in the first place of ensuring that ‘those two’ never played for India! Bedi and Sunny could have helped them play for India, but during that time, Indian cricket was a ‘raaj of its own’.
According to me, both Paddy and Goel were pearls of Indian cricket. They performed at every level in domestic tournaments, be it Duleep Trophy, Ranji Trophy, Purshottam Shield, Times Shield or any of the other various tournaments that Bombay was then famous for. Paddy was one of the best bowlers India ever produced. After Bapu Nadkarni, he was second to none. But inspite of his outstanding performances in domestic cricket he was not given a single chance to play for India.
No one helped him because he came from a middle-class family and had no godfathers. We were badly beaten in Pakistan in 1978 because of Bedi. He was hammered to all corners of the ground as Pakistan were playing Test cricket like a One-Day match. Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad and Asif Iqbal would sometimes take three runs off a Bedi delivery.
After that disastrous series, the BCCI should have given one chance to these two spinners. It was possible. Sunny was in a strong position as a player and a captain.
After that disastrous series, the BCCI should have given one chance to these two spinners. It was possible. Sunny was in a strong position as a player and a captain. He wielded a lot of influence in the cricketing circles and he could have easily given Paddy a Test cap. Moreover, Bedi should have sportingly stepped down after that series and made way for Shivalkar and Goel. Polly Umrigar, Naren Tamhane, Madhav Mantri and Ramakant Desai, too, never helped this man!
When I spoke to Paddy, all he said was this: “I regret that I could not convince the then selectors. That is a regret that will always be with me. They (erstwhile selectors) always told me that I was born at the wrong time!”
It is interesting to note that Sunny took two players—Ghulam Parkar and Suru Nayak to England in 1982. The previous year, Ravi Shastri was called in as a left-arm spinner to New Zealand in place of Shivalkar who was the outstanding bowler for Mumbai at that time. Shastri had played just one match then!
The coterie was so strong that they never allowed new talent to break in. They were afraid that the spin quartet of Bedi, Erapalli Prassana, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar and R Venkataraghavan would be broken as they would have easily established themselves in the team with their performances. In fact Bedi carried so many injuries in matches and was a poor fielder. Chandrasekhar was no better as a fielder. They were all supported by the BCCI bosses at that time.
To guard the four spinners, they never allowed any fast bowler to come in the Indian 11. To keep the fast bowlers out, Sunny used to bowl with the new ball, and after four overs, the ‘the spin legends’ would take over.
To guard the four spinners, they also never allowed any fast bowler to come in the Indian 11. To keep the fast bowlers out, Sunny used to bowl with the new ball, and after four overs, the ‘the spin legends’ would take over. Karsan Ghavri and Madan Lal were brought in by Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi in 1975, and in 1978, Kapil Dev came into the team from Haryana. It was fast bowlers that won us the World Cup in 1983. Balwinder Singh Sandhu, Mohinder Amarnath, Madan Lan and Kapil Dev all bowled beautifully in the English conditions.
The dictators from the BCCI have now been thrown out by the Lodha Committee and deserving people have come in who are polishing the diamonds that were gathering dust all these years. While Bedi and Sunny are having a gala time giving quotes about how they feel about these award winners, Shivalkar is quoted to have said in the same publication when asked the staple question, “So how do you feel?”
“There is no feeling. That phase has passed for me now. The award has come, its fine. If it wouldn’t have come then also it wouldn’t have mattered. Jo mila ussi ko muqqadar samaj liya (whatever I got, I consider that destiny). There was a time when I had dreams, I had the drive. But it all faded away with time. I have come to a stage where nothing excites me.”
Paddy’s frustration can be summed up in these two lines from a song from the Bollywood film Nikkah: Dil ke armaan aansuon mein beh gaye; Hum wafa karke bhi tanha reh gaye (The desires of the heart turned to tears and flowed away; Although I was loyal, I ended up being alone!)
For the record: Shivalkar claimed 589 wickets in 124 first-class games, which included a staggering 42 five-wicket hauls and 13 10-wicket match hauls!
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(Nadim Memon is a man of the maidans. He is a curator, a sports lover, a cricketer, a footballer and more, importantly a fierce protector of maidans for the younger generation!)