The man who hit the winning runs for India at the Oval in 1971 against Ray Illingworth’s England, was a dejected soul at his California home on Sunday morning.

S Abid Ali had just got the news of India’s abject surrender to England at the London venue where he witnessed a career high 43 Augusts ago.

Syed Abid Ali. Pic/AFP

“It was a very poor performance. I followed the series quite a bit here. They didn’t seem to be a bunch that had the spirit to fight. The Lord’s victory went to their heads like it often does to our cricketers after a win. And after a loss, we are not the best when it comes to picking ourselves up and becoming more determined to win,” Abid Ali told mid-day over the phone on Sunday night.

The former all-rounder, who will be 73 next month, said today’s players should never been seen not fighting hard enough.

The sad part...
“They have all the facilities — specific coaches for bowling and fielding and even a video analyst. To top it up, they are very well paid. Despite all of this, they show very little fight and that is sad,” he said.

While Abid Ali was part of the 1971 series-winning squad, he was also among Ajit Wadekar’s 1974 tourists who lost 0-3.

Abid Ali played 29 Tests for India from 1967 to 1974. He also figured in the inaugural World Cup in 1975. During his international career, he was part of three overseas Test series wins — New Zealand in 1968, West Indies and England in 1971.

He migrated to California in 1980.