However, one cricket-loving Kolkatan chose to watch Sachin Tendulkar’s last Test here from the confines of her living room even though she could have easily procured a ticket to the club house through her contribution to the game here and elsewhere.
Jyotsna Poddar is publicity shy and it takes a few phone calls and a certain degree of persuasion to get her talking about Tendulkar, a player whom her trust sent to England way back in 1988 so that he could get a feel of English conditions.
“In those days, our trust - Young Cricketers Organisation - identified talented players across the country and nurtured them so that they could become better players,” Poddar told MiD DAY. The trust was an initiative undertaken by Poddar, legendary opener Sunil Gavaskar, stylish batsman Abbas Ali Baig, late Raj Singh Dungarpur apart from other eminent people.
Speaking about Tendulkar, Poddar recalled: “We had heard a lot about his exploits in Mumbai cricket. Sunil and Raj Singhji suggested we sponsor his trip to England (with Star Cricket Club) so that he could get first-hand experience of how counties and clubs play there.”
Former Rajasthan fast bowler Kailash Gattani, who spearheaded the Star CC tours, told this newspaper recently that Tendulkar’s airfare for the 1988 England trip was Rs 13,600. The Mumbai stalwart was part of the 1989 tour as well.
The following year, he was in England as part of the Indian team. The trust had also sponsored Sourav Ganguly. “He used to train at the Eden Gardens and was known to be a very talented player. We sent him to England as well,” said Poddar.
There were a host of other players whom they sponsored but they could not live up to their promise. Nevertheless, Poddar (63) is very modest about her contribution to the game and even though she could not make it to Eden, she wished Tendulkar all the luck.
In 1987, she compiled a book called ‘Cricketing Memories’ in which some of the game’s most famous personalities penned their funniest stories. She got Sir Donald Bradman to write the foreword for the book.
“I approached him with a request for the Foreword. He was initially hesitant but nevertheless obliged me,” she said.