Sunday, October 11, 2015

Reminisce Glorious days of Hyderabad Cricket : Vanam Jwala Narasimha Rao

Reminisce Glorious days of Hyderabad Cricket
Vanam Jwala Narasimha Rao
(With MS Shankar)

Historic Hyderabad has glorious history of games.  Whether cricket or soccer, Indian team was dominated from stars from this great city.  If seven out of the 15-member Indian football team had as many seven stars from Hyderabad that took part in two Olympics – 1956 (Melbourne) and 1960 (Rome), then it was the turn of the gentleman’s game cricket as an equal number (if not one less) of Hyderabadis could find their place in the Indian team’s twin tour to West Indies and England.

That’s the interesting common bind between the two great games, which enjoys unprecedented fan-following in the country.

In a bid to hear some of the most cherishing moments of those who been part of the Indian cricket team, we had a get-together on Sunday afternoon over lunch.  One of those Indian team members who participated in the lunch is none other than speedster Govindraj. Although, he was not fortunate enough to get a berth in the final playing XI, yet been part of 15-member team that had stalwarts like M L Jaisimha, Abbas Ali Baig, Krishnamurthy and Jayantilal, is no mean achievement.

In addition to Govindraj others who attended the small gathering, are former Test cricketer M V Narasimha Rao (fondly known as Bobji), Naushir Mehta, one of the greatest spinners of his era where Errampally Prasanna and Chandrasekhar from Karnataka and Venkatraghavan and VV Kumar from Tamil Nadu, almost blocked his entry into the Test side, Abdul Hai (also missed the bus to represent country, but represented South Zone team), Maheshwar Singh, Prahlad, K Saibaba and Sarvesh Kumar. 

Interestingly, Mahenshwar Singh hails from Warangal, Sarvesh Kumar from Medak.  Jyoti Prasad, K Sainath, Vijay Paul, Mahender Kumar and Abdul Azeem whom we expected to join us could not turn up in view of their preoccupation. The credit to bring all these together goes to Senior Journalist MS Shankar who himself is cricket lover and player.

Participants shared some of their glorious moments of experience with others.

 “Yes, it was county match against Barbados during our 1971 tour to West Indies.  I was given the new ball and my ‘guru’ M L Jaisimha had asked me to bowl a bouncer to Garifield Sobers, the greatest allrounder of all times.  And, I did at best of my pace and Sobers effortless flicked to the square leg. While, I was walking back, yet, again, Jai standing at the deep point gesticulate me repeat it and this time it flew like a rocket over Jai’s head for a six in to the audience area. But, I came back to clean bowl Sobers in my next over and it was the most ‘memorable moment’ to cherish,” recollects India’s speedster Govindraj about his experiences as Indian team member of the twin tours to West Indies and England. 

Govindraj, who was among the seven players from Hyderabad, who represented India during the 1971 twin tour to West Indies and England, also just cannot forget those glorious moments when India won the Test series against England in England under the stewardship of Ajit Wadekar.  “Although, I was unfortunate not to be in the final XI of the team in both the series against West Indies and England, yet being in 15-member team itself was a greatest achievement in my career” recalled Govindraj. He also vividly recollects how close he came to cherish his dream.  But, it was Abid Ali, who made it in the final XI as replacement to injured Sunil Gavaskar as he could keep wickets. 

Another Test star, M V Narasimha Rao, who could represent India in about half a dozen tests, could recall the most disturbing moment of his career in mid-eighties.

“I just returned from playing counties in England and just walked to the nets in Fateh Maidan ground, where Hyderabad team was undergoing training ahead of the most prestigious Moin-ud-Dowlah Gold Cup tournament. I was in track-suit as that was permissible during practice session in England.  Honestly, I was unaware that it was not so in Hyderabad as the then secretary of the association laid down new rules.  When team management objected to my tracks-suit, then the entire team walked out protesting against it.  As a result, the entire team was sacked and replaced with new playing XI. Believe me that entered into Guiness book of world records as never before a full 15-member team was replaced ahead of a tournament by any state or county or country team,” Bobji recalls.

 from these two incidents, Naushir Mehta expressed his disappointment for getting into India team, as there was so much of competition and in that era Errampally Prasanna, Chandrasekhar, Venkatraghan and VV Kumar, almost reserved their berths by consolidating their records.  “Honestly, I have no regrets as they were all great spinners and brought so much fame to the country.  Yet, I felt bad when I was almost got into the team, but blocked by Venkatraghavan,” he recalls.

Abdul Hai, Maheshwar Singh, Saibaba and Sarvesh Kumar, all appeared content of rising to the level of playing for state team.  “The standard was so high and incidentally that era had greats like Gavaskars and Vishwanaths, besides others, who were enviously best among the others. 

Incidentally Prahlad one of the cricketers who is in the gathering was my contemporary in degree…I was studying in New Science College and he was in Saifabad Science College during 1964-1966. We also together practiced cricket in Andhra Yuvatimandali play grounds. I met him after almost four decades.

It was a wonderful get-together for over two and half hours and we really enjoyed.  End

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