Posts Tagged ‘Eknath Solkar’

The Maya Machine Never Sleeps

November 17, 2012 3 comments

Along with cricket, a lot of global politics is also being played. Neo-colonialism or India’s anti-apartheid movement, it is all out there in the cricket-field.

Bishen Singh Bedi - one of the four spinners, a combination never equalled.

Bishen Singh Bedi – one of the four spinners, a combination never equalled.

Lambs to Slaughter

India Y2K generation, that started shaving after 2000 AD, many a time, are like innocent lambs to slaughter.

At the altar of propaganda – the modern day version of maya.

Make no mistake. Many from the older Bombay High generation (anyone who started shaving after 1975), are equally susceptible to this maya.

Will England Win Anything? Ever? Again?

Now that the British cricket-team is visiting India, there are a number of articles on British experiences of India. Do I need to confirm that all the encounters narrated are negative? How many times do British newspapers invite Indian writers to describe the problems of Indian players visiting Britain.

For instance, the racism at Heathrow – and at hotels, clubs, grounds. Remember how in the 70s, Indian brides joining their husbands in UK, were subjected to ‘virginity’ tests, on arrival at Heathrow.

Such Lack Of Grace

Or cut to India’s tour to England of 1974.

After losing two consecutive series (India won 1970-71, 3 test-series 1-0 in Britain; India won 5-test series of 1972-73 in India, 2-1), Britain started their 1974 campaign by ‘fixing the rules.

To avoid a third series loss in the 1974 series against India, ECB imposed an agreement to restrict leg-side fielders to a maximum of five. This meant the Indian team went into the 1974 series without being allowed to use their fielders in close catching positions. BCCI of the 1970s, agreed to these unfavorable terms.

Without access to TV rights, BCCI of the 1970s was dependent on earnings of the Indian cricket team, from tours to rich countries like Britain, Australia, New Zealand. After the rules were ‘fixed’, India had little chance in the 1974 series.

That little chance was India’s famed hunters – spinners. The hunter-pack of spinners worked in tandem with close-in fielders.

India’s superb close-in catching cordon which gave a cutting edge to its spin attack. Led by Eknath Solkar, this group of catching specialists including Ajit Wadekar, Abid Ali, wicket keeper Farokh Engineer and Venkat himself, surrounded the batsmen like a steel trap. One false move and the trap snapped shut, claiming another victim.

via Indian Cricket Fever – Hall of Fame – The Spin Quartet.

Pataudi, who had innovated the ‘hunter-pack’ strategy of spinners in tandem with close-in fielders, opted out of the 1974 tour after coming to know of this stipulation. Wadekar retired after the disastrous 1974 tour.

Consider this fact: the Indian Spin Quartet of Bishan Singh Bedi, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, Erapalli Prasanna, and Srinivas Venkataraghvan captured 853 Test wickets in the decade and a bit that they played together, from the mid 1960s to the late 1970s. This compares with the 835 Test wickets that the West Indian Pace Quartet of Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Colin Croft took in the decade and a bit that they played together from the early 1970s to the mid 1980s. In other words the Spin Quartet was every bit as lethal, in terms of danger to batsmen’s wickets, if not to limbs, as the Pace Quartet.

via Indian Cricket Fever – Hall of Fame – The Spin Quartet.

Of course, English pitches of 1974 and later were ‘sporting’. They offered assistance to English fast bowlers. Indian pitches that assist Indian spinners are crumbling ‘dust bowls’, which are dead and deteriorating.

You must also rewmember, if English and Australians struggle in India, it is because Indians create conditions favorable to Indian teams. If Indians struggle in Australia and England, Indians are a weak side – and only tigers at home.

Coming back to the 1974 tour – After all the bizarre rules, came the psychological games.

British police and judiciary pushed a case of billing error into a case of shop-lifting on an Indian player, Sudhir Naik – for a few pairs of socks. After the Sudhir Naik persecution, the devastated Indian team had little chance.

In one innings, India managed to score 42 all out – the all time lowest by any major test team.

Bishen Bedi - and Inset Image - John Lever with his famous Vaseline strip.  |  Image source & courtesy -

Bishen Bedi – and Inset Image – John Lever with his famous Vaseline strip. | Image source & courtesy –

The Saga Continues

Soon after the British debacle, later in 1974, for the West Indies tour to India, Pataudi was recalled. Pataudi used the same tactics (spinners + close-in fielders) as a captain against the famed West Indies – taking the series to the decider fifth match.

Soon after, in 1976, came the Vaseline incident where Bishan Bedi spoke out on the ball-tampering by the English team. Tony Grieg was supported by the ECB as an inadvertent mistake – and let off. BCCI in no position to push ECB or ICC, had to penalize Bedi.

Mike Atherton, in his book confirmed how England defeated Australia using a common trick in county cricket – using mint-lozenges. Of course, no one was penalized or brought to book. Dravid, after a stint in the county-circuit, was caught using this trick, brazenly.

Similarly, to counter the West Indian pace-quartets, the ICC turned its attention to bouncers – to curb the West Indies.

The Bouncer Rule (1991) – Somewhere along the way – between Paul Terry’s broken arm and Mike Gatting’s pulped nose – the West Indies pace quartet of the 1980s picked up a reputation for intimidatory bowling. Other teams, when they weren’t complaining about the blows inflicted on their bodies and psyche, started to point at West Indies’ over-rate, which sometimes crawled along at just 70 a day.

Something had to give, and when it did it tilted the balance completely the other way. In 1991, the ICC introduced the “one bouncer per batsman per over” rule in an attempt to end the intimidation, and buck up the over-rates. Flat-track bullies rejoiced but fast bowlers, already condemned to bowling on shirtfronts in most parts of the world, weren’t amused, and vociferous protests saw the law amended in 1994 to incorporate two bouncers per over. One-day cricket took much longer to listen to the bowlers’ pleas, and it was only in 2001 that once bouncer per over was allowed.

MAK Pataudi

MAK Pataudi

Mind you, ICC was totally indifferent after the West Indian pace-bowlers injured five Indian bowlers at the Sabina Park, 1976 Test. India, batting first, crossed 200-1 and seemed likely to run away with the series.

And we have Indian newspapers talking of how ‘sporting’ Britishers had to ‘tolerate’ Indian conditions – in the ’cause’ of cricket.

World Cup 1987 had me watching the semi-final at the Wankhede Stadium, where Graham Gooch literally swept England to victory over India; then, in my room in the Taj Hotel, with the enchanting Gateway to India visible outside (innocent vision against the later horror of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack), I watched Australia win the other semi. Now I had to book a flight to Calcutta for the final.

The airline official looked across his desk at me and offered a 5.30 morning flight. I protested. He stared at me. “Don’t you wish to go?” I hadn’t noticed the twinkle in his eye. “Oh, all right then, I’ll try to get to the airport in time,” I replied lamely. Then he reached into a drawer. “I do have this other flight, if you prefer. It leaves at 9.30.” Much relieved, I forgave him the tease and grabbed at the offer.

There was a further problem when I tried cashing a traveller’s cheque. My bank apparently traded in South Africa, which was still the forbidden land. More panic, more sweating. Fortunately this snag was overcome with a backstreet currency trader. I was on my way.

And I wish I was on my way now to Ahmedabad to enjoy the sights, sounds and aromas of an Indian Test match. However, here in England I have a cosy armchair and a television set cued to the cricket channel . . . and I have my memories.

via Passage to India – Analysis – DNA.

Cricket apart, this jaundiced piece of journalism reveals the double-standards of the West when it came to apartheid in South Africa. It took relentless boycott, led by India, of Western trade and businesses that had to abandon South Africa, which forced the South African regime to finally allow Black-majority rule in South Africa.

People forget that today.

The two gods of Indian cricket

May 12, 2011 2 comments
A Saurav fan wants to touch his feet at Hyderabad. Nobody has ever wanted to touch Sachin, Gavaskars or Kapil Dev's feet. The first god of Indian cricket. (Picture courtesy -

A Saurav fan wants to touch his feet at Hyderabad. Nobody ever wanted to touch Sachin's, Gavaskar's or Kapil Dev's feet. The first god of Indian cricket. (Picture courtesy - Click for larger picture.

Great Indian cricketers

In the last 75 years of cricket in India, many world-class players have worn Indian colours.

Modern cricket’s focus on fielding started after Eknath Solkar and the four Indian spinners won overseas tour in West Indies and England in 1970-71. Aided by some superb batting by Gavaskar and Dilip Sardesai.

A fact most people forget today.

Kapil Dev, one of the best all rounders, Sunil Gavaskar, an awesome player in his times, who played the world’s most fearsome West Indian pace attack without a helmet come readily to mind.

Saurav Ganguly at Lords - giving it back to the English. As only he can.

Saurav Ganguly at Lords - giving it back to the English. As only he can. (Picture courtesy - Click for larger picture.

Of Sachin Tendulkar, much has been written.

Supremely talented, these and some others   players, with skills, temperament and poise are remarkable people. But they stopped at being great players.

Coming to gods

To my mind there are only two gods in Indian cricket.

Sourav Ganguly and MS Dhoni.

Not because they are the most successful captains. Even Azharuddin was a ‘successful’ captain. These two captains changed the way Indians and Indian cricketers saw themselves.  The real change was the way these two played their cricket.

A hairier Dhoni - less burdened. (Picture courtesy -

A hairier Dhoni - less burdened. (Picture courtesy - Click for larger picture.

How different

Saurav, openly aggressive and gritty – willing to take nothing lying down. His demolition of Steve Waugh’s mind games, left a desolate Steve Waugh, with the dubious distinction of being the only modern captain to lose a test after imposing a follow on.

MS Dhoni, who has lost a lot of hair and grayed very early, in spite of an exterior calm, is quietly determined. To show that we have what it takes to take anyone in the world of cricket – and other fields too.

A graying Dhonio- burdened by his own his immaculate standards.

A graying Dhonio- burdened by his own his immaculate standards. (Picture courtesy - Click for larger picture.

Earlier, during 1983-1987, by hosting the World Cup, Jagmohan Dalmiya brought about a change in the way the BCCI (Board for Control of Cricket in India) saw itself.

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