Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tiger’s legend will live on

By John Cheeran
Tiger Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi was born a prince but unlike the maharajas before him, he brought to Indian cricket an egalitarian attitude, unparalleled in the nation’s sporting history. Tiger wanted every player to give his best on the field.
He placed a premium on fielding excellence, a still neglected as aspect of the Indian game, and wrote in his famous autobiography, Tiger’s Tale, that in his team there would not be any place for a player however great he is but sloppy on the field.
Pataudi was a no-nonsense man. On a few occasions when one spoke to get his reactions on matters of cricket, his gruff voice over telephone conveyed his imperial manner that upset the officialdom in Indian cricket many a time. Vijay Merchant, the illustrious batsman from Bombay, when he was chairman of the selection committee, used his casting vote to deny Tiger a place in the side. Pataudi was recalled later to lead India against the West Indies in the 1974-75 home series, a series that galvanised Indian cricket. India, after losing the first two Tests, did the unimaginable against the mighty West Indians, by winning the next two.
In Pataudi, India had its finest leader of men (he led India in 40 Tests), till the advent of Sourav Ganguly and Mahinder Singh Dhoni clouded people’s judgments. Tiger’s daring was total in that he contested Lok Sabha elections in 1971 protesting against the abolition of privy-purse. Pataudi only scored 2793 runs in 46 Tests, a number that looks quite ordinary in contemporary cricket, but many still wonder how many more he would have scored if he had not injured his right eye early in his career.
(Tiger died in Delhi at the age of 70 on Thursday. He was suffering from lung disease.)

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