It's fine to take it personally!

Updated: 14 May, 2020 08:21 IST | Clayton Murzello | Mumbai

The Coronavirus-caused lockdown is providing fans an opportunity to soak in rarely-touched upon personal details of cricketers, something that intimate interviews provided in the 1980s and 1990s

Sachin Tendulkar, at the age of 19, at a media event in Sheffield before kicking off his Yorkshire County Cricket Club stint on July 16, 1992. Pic/Getty Images
Sachin Tendulkar, at the age of 19, at a media event in Sheffield before kicking off his Yorkshire County Cricket Club stint on July 16, 1992. Pic/Getty Images

Clayton MurzelloI have a fleet – four Rolls Royce cars, five sports cars plus two tongas," said Imran Khan in an intimate interview with Cricketer Asia magazine in early 1983. In the same publication around that time, India stars Dilip Vengsarkar, Ravi Shastri and Sandeep Patil mentioned Fiat in their responses to the Own Car question. Sunil Gavaskar had a Premier President car then.

And when it came to Mohinder Amarnath, he revealed he didn't own a car. Amarnath told me on Tuesday that he bought his first automobile in the early 1990s.

What's all this car talk about, you may well wonder. Let me tell you: intimate interviews were probably the only way cricket enthusiasts would know the personal side of our favourite cricketers; something which our current stars are not coy to do on social media. And while we hope the current cricketers continue to do so even after the lockdown ends, it was interesting to read about what the stars of the 1980s and 1990s revealed of their personal lives.

Favourite Animal was an often-asked question in such interviews. Carl Rackemann, the Australian fast bowler threw in a slice of humour to his answer: "My dog, Trooper. He's black, but nobody knows what he is." Yashpal Sharma, the steady batsman for India in the 1980s, revealed he had two dogs named Chappell and Tiger.

And Viv Richards in 1983 wished for a German Shepherd while "dogs" was the reply to my question to Sanjay Manjrekar and Anil Kumble in 1990 on what they feared. Manjrekar feared snakes too; ditto his idol Gavaskar.

Patil was candid even in those days. To a question on Likes, the dazzling middle-order batsman remarked in Cricketer Asia: "Pretty girls." Besides Favourite Relaxation, he said, "Drinking beer with my girlfriends."

And talking about the opposite sex, when it came to replying to the Marital Status question, Sarfraz Nawaz, the big Pakistani fast bowler of the 1970s and 1980s, said: "Don't like to disclose." His colleagues Abdul Qadir and Mohsin Khan were less direct to the magazine's interviewer. Mohsin, who married Indian actress Reena Roy, stated, "The future Mrs Khan," while Qadir just said, "Forget about it."

In the same interview, the late wily leg-spinner wished he could meet actresses Bo Derek and Sridevi someday.

Our current cricket stars often post photographs of their holidays — brief ones — due to their tight schedule. But some cricketers of another era didn't know what a holiday was about. Greg Chappell told Cricketer Asia magazine that he didn't go on enough holidays to mention his Favourite Holiday Resort. To the same question, Rackemann said he'd go to Los Angeles if he could afford it. For 17-year-old Sachin Tendulkar in 1990, his Bandra (East) home was his favourite resort.

Manjrekar answered my questionnaire with great thought in the same year. Fried sesame prawns, he inscribed under Favourite Dish. To the question on Most Embarrassing Moment, he referred to, "seeing my photograph in my birthday suit in Sportsworld [magazine]." Manjrekar, the find of the 1988-89 tour of the West Indies, was left trunk-less by his teammates on a Caribbean beach for a brief moment and a cameraman captured it.

Miandad's Most Embarrassing Moment was seeing comedy actor Sakhi Kamal imitating him on a television show, while Navjot Singh Sidhu told Sportsweek & Lifestyle in 1988 that he was most embarrassed when he had to propose to his wife.

Best Friend was also a question asked in intimate interviews. Thirty years ago, Kumble said to me that his best pal was brother Dinesh. In 1983, Patil and Shastri listed each other as best friends while Wasim Bari tickled Cricketer Asia readers when he mentioned his peon Mohammad Ilyas as his best friend.
Tendulkar's best friend was the game of cricket while Manjrekar said it was his bat.

Syed Kirmani was humourous in his replies to Cricketer Asia. When it came to spelling out his Favourite Relaxation, all he said was, "Not for publication." His Favourite Singer in 1983 was Pakistani opener Mudassar Nazar and when asked for the colour of his hair, the bald wicketkeeper shot back, "What hair?"

Mohammed Azharuddin had two namesakes mentioned in his intimate interview to me in 1990. His favourite singer was Mohammad Rafi while boxing legend Muhammad Ali was one person he wanted to meet. His superstition was a bit different to the common one about cricketers putting on their left leg guard first. His was not to wear anything new for the first time on the day of a big match.

Under Own Car, Azharuddin mentioned his Honda Accord. All cricketers mentioned in connection with their cars now own luxury cars.

Automobile lovers would be delighted to hear about what the current Indian cricketers drive around in — a good time to emulate their coach Ravi Shastri as it were, since Shastri recently spoke about the Audi he won as Champion of Champions in the World Championship of Cricket in 1985. For those who are not aware, the car in which he drove his teammates around the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 10, 1985, was damaged by his jubilant teammates' spikes and so Audi had to ship a new one.

Oh by the way, Imran said he was joking about those four Rolls Royce cars, five sports beauties on wheels and two tongas. If that list were true, it would be no laughing matter.

mid-day's group sports editor Clayton Murzello is a purist with an open stance. He tweets @ClaytonMurzello

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First Published: 14 May, 2020 07:00 IST

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