Ex-India team manager PR Man Singh at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium yesterday. Pic/Subodh Mayure
Hyderabad: ML Jaisimha, Abbas Ali Baig, Nawab of Pataudi, Mohammed Azharuddin, VVS Laxman… Hyderabad can boast of all these batting stylists. And the one man who has seen them all in their prime from close quarters is PR Man Singh.
PR Man Singh is a former Hyderabad first-class cricketer and able administrator, but to the cricketing world, he is most famous for being manager of the 1983 World Cup-winning team. In fact, he also managed the Indian team during the 1987 World Cup where they lost to England in the semi-final at Mumbai.
In many ways, 'Peter' Man Singh is Hyderabad's Mr Cricket!
Man Singh is more than just disappointed that the glory days of Hyderabad cricket are well and truly behind. "It is very sad that in the last couple of decades, the people who run Hyderabad cricket and the office bearers of the Hyderabad Cricket Associations have not prioritised the game and that's how cricket here has suffered," Man Singh told mid-day yesterday while watching the Day One proceedings of the India vs Bangladesh Test here.
He won't buy any talk of lack of cricketing talent in his city. "There is so much of talent, but you have to spot it and groom players. This process just doesn't take place here," he said.
Another aspect that worries Man Singh is the lack of knowledge in terms of cricketing history. "They (players) should read about former players and their legacy. I may be wrong, but if you asked the current Hyderabad cricketers who Jaisimha is, they wouldn't know. They would probably know about Abbas Ali Baig or Nawab of Pataudi and surely VVS Laxman. Jai was one of India's finest batsmen. Past players should be inspiration for the younger lot. After reading about Baig scoring a century on Test debut on the 1959 tour of England, young players should derive motivation from it and also aim to play for India and score a Test century on debut.
Man Singh, who believes that his biggest gift from God was his appointment as manager of the 1983 World Cup winning team, has a cricket museum at his residence near Secunderabad Club. The museum includes around 2000 cricket books - almost all autobiographies of cricketers. He remembers the first book he bought - End of an Innings by Dennis Compton - in 1950 at Bangalore. He also has a large number ties, mementos, flags, cufflinks, autographed miniature bats and around cricket video cassettes which are now converting to DVDs.