Trust an Aussie to chip away at the brilliance of an Englishman. That's probably what happened when Ian Chappell's opening address at the Raj Singh Dungarpur World Cricket Summit took a bit of sheen away from Mike Brearley's splendid Voice of Cricket lecture.
Ian Chappell with Saif Ali Khan on Monday. Pic/Rane Ashish
The evening was not meant to pit the two great captains against each other, but Chappell's tribute to the late Nawab of Pataudi was like a Sehwag blitzkrieg before a fighting Dravid innings. For the audience, it was like a
perfect day of cricket.
Yet, so sad
"It's a great honour and privilege to pay tribute to Tiger Pataudi, but it's also very sad. He was way too young and probably had still a lot to give not only to cricket, but to life," was one of Chappell's early lines in his speech.
The former Australia captain was fortunate to meet Pataudi during the last World Cup in March alongwith Clive Lloyd. Chappell recalled the 70 of Pataudi's 75 scored at the Melbourne Cricket Ground 44 Decembers ago which illustrated that the Nawab was brilliant, brave and not fussy about what he wore and used on the field. It was his maiden first-class innings on the tour. So much for acclimatisation!
Over to Chappell:
Tiger missed the first Test because he pulled a hamstring as if one eye is not a big enough handicap. And if you want to know how big a handicap that is, try closing one eye and catch a cricket ball. It's not very easy. In addition to that, he had the pulled hamstring and as if that wasn't a big challenge, he had to come out and face Graham McKenzie, one of the finest fast bowlers we've had. Conditions were very much in favour of the bowlers. Then, as an added challenge, Tiger came in when India were five for 25.
He just got on the back foot and played everything from there. There are two shots which will always stay in my mind. He hit McKenzie straight over his head one bounce straight to the sight board at the MCG. I never ever saw anybody else treat McKenzie like that. McKenzie, as I said, was a very fine fast bowler and when I say fast, I mean fast. The other shot he played was off Dave Renneberg, who also could be quite quick.
Renneberg pitched one round about leg stump, and Tiger hit it over mid-wicket. It bounced once and went over the fence. Those two shots will always stay with me.
The other thing I remember of that innings was that we were on and off five to six times during the day. And each time Tiger came out to bat with a different bat. That night after play, Barry Jarman (wicketkeeper) took me to the Indian dressing room. I met Tiger for the first time and asked him about those different bats.
And he said, 'Ian, I came on the tour with a sweater, a jumper, pair of trousers, pair of socks, and a jock strap. That's what I brought. I didn't have my own bat, gloves so each time I went out, I just picked up the bat nearest to the door.' He got 75 in the first innings and just to prove that was not a fluke, he got 85 in the second innings. Chappell was not done for the evening.
Chappell had much more to say about Pataudi.
When Brearley came on stage, in what could be the second session of play, he underlined how corruption is the biggest threat to the game. The third session was a panel discussion involving Kapil Dev, Sanjay Manjrekar, Ajay Jadeja, Chappell and Brearley, conducted by cricket expert Ayaz Memon before Kapil Dev launched the Raj Singh Dungarpur Foundation. He raised a toast to Raj Singh, the former BCCI president.
The calypso, "cricket, lovely cricket," is not just restricted to on-field action. Functions like these do justice to the line too.