Anecdotes from Mumbai’s legendary cricketers

Ritesh Misra Roar Guru

By , Ritesh Misra is a Roar Guru

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    During Mumbai’s 500 Ranji match celebrations on November 8, legendary cricketers shared little-known incidents of their careers, so let’s go through these cricketers’ reminiscences.

    Madhav Apte
    A terrific opening batsman from the 1950s. He spoke about cricket during the war and how an army hero played at the Cricket Club of India and got a member clean bowled.

    When asked his name, Apte said “Hedley Verity”. The club member always used to say “I am privileged, I got bowled by legend Hedley Verity”

    Ajit Wadekar
    He had the honour of leading Mumbai to four Ranji wins in a row. He said since Mumbai was very strong, other teams would always want to defeat them, by hook or by crook.

    Wadekar gave the example of the 1972-73 final, where Tamil Nadu had prepared a rank turner. However, Wadekar said that Tamil Nadu had forgotten that Mumbai batsmen were brought up on terrible wickets in the Kanga League.

    The ploy backfired as a result, with Paddy Shivalkar and Eknath Solkar earning 13 and six wickets respectively. Together, they spun Mumbai to victory.

    Dilip Vengsarkar
    Vengsarkar spoke about his famous Irani 100 and the background to it.

    The entire season before his famous innings, as an 18-year-old teen, he was on the bench of a very strong Mumbai team. Leading up to one match of that season, he finally got a chance to play because Solkar was injured. He failed to take the opportunity and after getting a duck, he thought his career was already over.

    However the next match too Solkar was injured and Dilip seized the opportunity hitting a fast 110, with 11 fours and 7 sixes with Bishan Bedi and EAS Prasanna in the attack.

    This knock of Dilip reminded Lala Amarnath of Colonel CK Nayudu, and the nickname Colonel has stuck to Dilip to this day.

    Colonel spoke about the best ever Ranji Final between Mumbai and Haryana. He said they were 35/3 chasing 355 in just 190 minutes and 20 overs. He met Kapil Dev in the rest-room and Kapil said, “let us win one time”.

    Dilip said “We are 35/3 ” but Kapil said, “You are there”.

    Colonel hit a majestic, unbeaten 139 and Sachin scored 95 off 76 balls which Colonel says was an amazing knock. Fifty runs were required with one wicket left and Colonel exploded, hitting 26 in five balls off an over with 3 sixes and 2 fours.  

    The last pair added 22 runs more, but Kuruvilla was run out with just two runs left to win. Vengsarkar said it was the saddest day of his life.

    Colonel also talked about Vinod Kambli and how he had surprised him by hitting his second ball in Ranji trophy for a huge six. After hitting a quick 50, he gave a thumbs up and said “cheers mates”. He said Vinod’s clothes were extraordinarily flamboyant.

    Sachin Tendulkar
    The little master spoke about his debut century and how the seniors in the team made him comfortable, especially since the entire earlier season he had been in the team as a 14-year-old boy. For his debut 100, he mentioned Alan Sippy, Lalchand Rajput and Shishir Hattangadi for encouraging him.

    For his technique, Sachin gave credit to Mumbai veteran bowlers who would keep on bowling to him with imaginary fielders around the bat and ask him to tighten his defence and strengthen his attack.

    (AP Photo/Aman Sharma)

    When asked about his best Ranji ton, Sachin said it was the 200 he got against Tamil Nadu in the 1999-2000 season when he and last man Santosh Saxena got Mumbai the lead. He said as the ball was reverse swinging he stood outside the crease and when Hemang Badani gave the bowler instructions in Tamil, Sachin went back in.

    He also did the reverse, by standing back and then moving forward, which he continued to alternate throughout the innings.

    One ball hit Saxena’s leg and Sachin says he screamed not out before the umpire could decide. Finally, they crossed the Tamil Nadu Score and Tendulkar says that he then told Hemang Badani that he understood Tamil.

    Sanjay Manjrekar
    Manjrekar also spoke about the Mumbai-Haryana final and said that, due to Sachin Tendulkar’s frantic instructions for the last few overs, no one could move from where they were sitting due to superstition. Though he was the captain, he could not even see the last few minutes and his only memory was of noise and not of sight.

    Sanjay mentioned Vinod Kambli, and, just like Vengsarkar spoke about his flamboyant clothes, said he remembered Kambli’s earrings and that it was only Mumbai cricket which accepted and welcomed him. It was never an issue while he was on the team, while other conservative Ranji teams might not have accepted him.

    Many other stalwarts of Mumbai Cricket such as Karsan Ghavri, Ajit Agarkar, Ajinkya Rahane, Praveen Amre, Vinod Kambli, Nilesh Kulkarni and Rohit Sharma were felicitated in the function.

    A special moment was the recognition of the 16-year-old Jemimah Rodrigues of Bandra, Mumbai, who, just a few days ago, smashed an unbeaten 202 in 163 balls against Saurashtra in under-19 cricket.

    Overall it was a memorable evening full of nostalgia.