Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Tiger among men

I always had this burning desire to meet Tiger Pataudi. In a perfect and ideal world that I often dreamt and fantasized about, Tiger Patuadi was one gentleman with whom I wanted to talk cricket about. Just a two minute conversation about cricket and that would have been everything for me.

Unfortunately I never could meet Tiger. Unfortunately I never saw him play. Unfortunately and frustratingly, he never did much commentary in the last thirty years or so for me to regularly hear his views. But having read so much about him, having him heard him on the odd occasion that he decided to air his views, I have no doubt to admit that Mansur Ali Khan Patuadi was one of my heroes.

For many people of my age the name Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi does not mean much. But for people of the previous generation, Tiger Pataudi was the ultimate cricketing superstar. Mukul Kesavan has described his perfectly calling him a “a republic prince”. He indeed was a prince under whom Indian cricket flourished. But he was no autocrat and definitely no dictator.

There are certain crickets who should not be judged by statistics. Pataudi should be on top of the list. To understand Tiger Patuadi, you need to understand the history of Indian cricket prior to him becoming the captain. India lost regularly at home and were regularly hammered abroad. Patuadi made the team believe in itself. Patuadi gave Indian cricket Bedi, Prassana, Chandra and Venkat. He gave Indian cricket Vishwanath, Hanumant Singh and Farook Engineer. He gave India its first overseas win. He gave Indian cricket an identity and self respect.

And please remember, he played 40 odd test matches with one eye. He scored all those runs with one eye. He made that brilliant hundred at headingly in 1967 with one eye.But the loss of that eye did not deter him. As he once famously said “I lost the sight in my eye but I did not lose the sight of my ambitions”. That one statement summed up Tiger Pataudi.

Ian Chapell had once said that “Tiger talks a lot less but whatever talk’s makes a lot of sense”. But perhaps it is appropriate to quote Mukul Kesavan who writes “death finds him happily embalmed in fond radio memories: still tigerish in the covers, still a prince amongst men.”

There never will be a Tiger Pataudi again.

1 comment:

perkypinch said...

Definitiely a thumbs up on this one. m almost teary eyed by the end of it!