If cricket is a gentleman's game it is because of people like Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi. I last met him a few months ago when I took a Guyanese friend and an author to meet him. When we came home, my friend told me, "This man is so special." And I said, "I told you."
Tiger was a close friend. And I will miss him dearly. Now, about his cricket: He was the best thing to have happened to Indian cricket since India played its first Test in 1932. He brought about freshness in Indian cricket. And he believed that spin was the way to go when it came to winning matches. He was a mentor to me, and I am sure he was the same to Chandra, Pras and Venkat. They said he didn't encourage medium-pace bowling. But, temperamentally he was not in a position to promote mediocrity. 'If I have to bowl with the new ball, I will do it,' he used to say.
He firmly believed that India needed wicket-taking bowlers. Three days ago, I went to the hospital in Delhi to see my friend, but he was in the Intensive Care Unit. I asked Sharmila (his wife) how he was faring. And she said, "he's having a rough time."
-- As told to Clayton Murzello