Seventy-yr-old Devraj Govindraj. Right: During his playing days. Pic/Mid Day Archives
Hyderabad: It's rare for a medium pace bowler to go on two successive tours and return without playing a Test. That's what happened to Hyderabad's Devraj Govindraj who was part of Ajit Wadekar's historic touring teams to West Indies and England in 1971.
Govindraj (70) ended his first-class career without playing a Test, but there's not a trace of regret in his voice when mid-day spoke to him here recently.
"We had three to four good spinners, who played a very important role. I got to play in all the practice games, but not in Tests. However, I have no grudges. In England, I played 13 out of the 16 county games. I remember a lot of catches were dropped off my bowling and those snicks invariably went to the boundary. Then, the spinners used to come on," said Govindraj.
The erstwhile swing bowler was not in Uppal to watch India and Bangladesh clash for the first time on Indian soil and he's blue over the treatment Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) metes out to its former stalwarts.
According to Govindraj, earlier, former cricketers received good attention, but now they need to beg for their rights, which he doesn't want to do. "When Arshad Ayub was in the HCA, things were different. He used to send me an invitation as well as a car pass for an international game. But now, no one cares about us. We don't get any passes and I don't want to go there (HCA) and beg," added Govindraj.
On ML Jaisimha:
He was my first Hyderabad captain. He was my cricketing god and encouraged me a lot. He saw me playing in school and asked me to play for his club team. I was a batsman and scored a century for Hyderabad Schools against Secunderabad XI. However, Jaisimha was the first man who encouraged me up bowling.
On how he became a pacer:
Initially, I bowled medium-pace with a short run-up, but used to swing the ball lot. When I played for the state's junior team, we used to practice at the Gymkhana Ground and while bowling in the nets, I increased my run-up steps to 17. Thus, I became a fast bowler.