Sunday, August 20, 2006


I haven't been tuned in at all into cricket in the last six months or so (or at least after India's debacle at Mumbai against England), but I do browse Cricinfo now and then, and amidst all the Monty Panesar stories, there are a few here and there that make me want to click. This interview of Sandip Patil, for example. The interview is a routine one, but it is so easy to forget people like Sandip Patil. One of my great regrets is not having watched him at his peak, when he famously took on the likes of Len Pascoe and Bob Willis. Like most Indians who grew up in the eighties, I have watched clips of the 1983 World Cup semis and finals over and over again, and Patil remains a dashing, enigmatic hero, a Jim Morrison kind of figure. Watching that disdainful hoick off Bob Willis that sails over deep square leg gives me the goosebumps everytime. But it is Patil's role as a mentor and coach in the wilderness of Madhya Pradesh is what impressed me most about the man. That MP reached the Ranji Trophy finals (was it in '93?) was in large part due to Patil's inspirational presence. That they did with some help from the dreaded quotient rule (if I remember right) and Prashant Dwivedi's ultra-dour batting is another matter. There are examples of other cricketers having lifted their team's fortunes with their skills, as with Lalchand Rajput with Assam, Arun Lal, Ashok Malhotra and Srikant Kalyani with Bengal, VB Chandrasekhar with Goa (the ones I remember), but Patil towers above the rest quite easily. Add to that his work as a coach of various India youth sides, and it is hard to think of another India cricketer in the same league. His short stint as coach of the national side was not quite eventful, and with the board now open to overseas coaches, he may never take on that role again. But he proved his mettle with a plucky Kenyan side in the last World Cup, something for which he did not get enough credit, in my opinion. So Sandy is 50. Steve Waugh has retired. Boris Becker is in the commentary box or on the Laureus foundation panel. In a couple of weeks or so, Andre Agassi will be just another suburban Dad. I feel old. Actually, I feel fucking ancient. - NK


Anonymous Hiren said...

Sandeep patil was very dashing all right. However he was also lazy and retired prematurely. I remember Vijay Amritraj fondly.

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