This incident that occurred in Bombay, more than fifty years ago, had not only heralded a new era in Indian Cricket but had also given an all together new dimension to the Cricket scenario in India..
At that moment, none of those involved in this incident, were aware that they have just written the first page of an epoch making chapter in the history of Indian Cricket...
Please go through..
It was a mid summer late evening, some time during 1954 or 55…
After attending a function, organized by the Board Of Control For Cricket In India (A private club consortium,originally registered as a Society in December, 1928 under the Tamilnadu Societies Registration Act, B C C I today is the National governing body of all cricket in India), at the celebrated Brabourne stadium of Bombay, a Cricketer just returned to his home in Dadar..
That Cricketer was a popular player in Bombay Cricketing circles those days and had in fact played a few test matches for India as well.. That particular evening, there was a grand official function at the head quarters of Indian cricket in Bombay.
Beaming with smiles and walking with pride, that Cricketer entered his home… His whole family was waiting to receive him.. And the moment he entered, they all gathered around him to see what he had brought and to hear what he had to say..
With great joy, he started narrating about everything that had happened in that function.. He was explaining how the luminaries of Indian Cricket there have spoken about the various aspects of Cricket and what new recommendations they have made to the Cricket board for the overall development of the game in our country..
Everyone in the family was listening to the Cricketer with rapt attention.. There was also a five year old boy in that room..standing silently in a corner and observing the Cricketer in all admiration..That boy, the nephew of the Cricketer, was listening to his Mama’s (Uncle) narration and was more particularly watching his colorful new Blazer..
The boy was the darling of that whole house and was the pet of his Uncle too.. The boy at that time was paying more attention to the Indian Cricket logo printed on that Blazer..
The Cricketer who had suddenly noticed the boy observing him, paused for a moment; smiled at the curly haired cute kittle boy; and then stretching his hands forward him asked him to come closer to him.. The boy who was waiting in anticipation of that invitation from his beloved uncle, rushed to him immediately..
Pulling the boy closer to him, the Cricketer picked up the boy with both his hands and then made him sit comfortably in his lap.. Observing the boy’s curiosity, the Cricketer then started paying attention to the boy, by explaining him everything about the function.
Without paying much attention to what his Mama was saying, the boy was actually observing the sheen of the Blazer his Mama was wearing and was paying a more attention to the Indian Cricket logo printed on it.
Seeing his nephew paying more attention to the blazer, the Cricketer then started telling the boy about the blazer and its significance and importance… Keenly observing the blazer, the boy in a shy filled voice, very hesitantly asked his Mama in his native Marathi language..
“Mama, haa coat kitee mast aahe… Mee toh..ekdaa..ghaalun baghu ka? .”(Mama,this coat.. is.. so.. beautiful..May..I…wear this…..once and see”)
Patting on the cheeks of the cute boy
The Cricketer smiled and said.. “Ho ho baala.. bagh.. ek tar haa coat naahiye, hyaala blazer mhantat blazer… Tu haa jaroor ghaalu shaktos, pan asaach konaa kade maagun naahi ghalata yenar to tula,to swatahacha swataha milwaawa laagel.. tarach tya ghaalanyala kaahi arth aahe!”
(My dear,look,this is not a coat but blazer..yes..you can definitely wear this but not just like that..you have to earn this first and wear this next..)
With smiles on their faces,everyone in the room was watching the conversation between the Cricketer and the boy.. Particularly the boy’s mother was more attentive to the conversation and was waiting for her son’s reply.
The boy was hurt with his uncle’s reaction, however, he still composed himself and asked his uncle in a further lower tone.. “Pan Mama,mee haa kasa milwoo shakato?” (But Mama,how do I earn this)
With the same smile the Cricketer replied .. “Baala,tyaa saathi tula khoop kashta ghyaave laagtil,kathor mehnat karaavi lagel, satat zagdaave laagel…tevhaa kuthe tulaa Bharataasathi khelanyaachi sandhi milele…aani tya nantar kaay,haa blazer aapoaap tuzya angavar chadhavla jaail.Ek lakshaat thev baala,ase blazer kadhi maagoon milat nastat,te jinkunach ghyaave laagtat…”
(My dear, for that you need to work very hard.. You also need to play for India,.. Then this blazer will automatically come to you.. Remember my child.. You should not beg to wear such blazers but you need to win and wear them)
The boy silently nodded his head..The whole conversation ended there in smiles.. One after the other, everyone kissed the boy and left the room.. Finally,only the boy and his Mother were left in the room.. This conversation had a big impact on the boy’s mind.. With all the innocence in the world, he turned to his Mother and said, “Mom,I will play for India and win this blazer..”
Like any Mother in the world, the boy’s mother too felt very happy with her son’s statement.. With a gentle kiss on the boy’s cheeks she lifted him up and took him out of the room..
Except the boy,everyone else forgot that incident almost immediately…
Later with the support of his Mother, the boy did all the hard work needed to become a great Cricketer.. He practiced and struggled hard, did everything that he can to implement what his Mama had told him.
Finally, everything the boy did became a part of history… In a spree, the cute curly haired boy played for his school, played for his college, played for his university, played for Bombay and West Zone and finally realized his dream of..
P…l…a…y…i..n..g… f..o..r.. I..n.d.i..y..a..a..a..a.a…
After that he never looked back and went on creating new records… The whole of India just stood up in absolute awe of this Cricketer and watched his supremacy over the most lethal and the most dreaded fast bowling in world Cricket.
In the process that no more cute little boy not only won many such blazers in his prolonged Cricketing career but had also earned a special name for himself and for the country.. Today, his name is specially imprinted in Golden letters in the history of Indian Cricket and the World Cricket..
While that cute curly haired young boy went on to become the legendary Sunil Gavaskar, unfortunately his Mama the Cricketer, in the above incident, could only play four tests for India and went into oblivion and remained a lesser known Cricketer called Madhav Mantri..
If that is all Madhav Mantri had earned in his life as a Cricketer, his nephew Sunil Gavaskar had gone from strength to strength there after and gave an all together new dimension and new direction to Indian cricket.
In 1987, at the age of 38, the legendary Sunil Gavaskar retired in style by scoring 97 in the last test he played for India against Pakistan at Bangalore.. After his retirement Gavaskar never quit Cricket and had contributed a lot for the promotion of game among the youth and in the sub continent..
He also stood by Sachin Tendulkar in his budding days in international Cricket and did everything to make Sachin Tendulkar what he is today.. Currently,Gavaskar plays a major role in world Cricket and ICC and in fact it was he who questioned the supremacy of some nations in international Cricket and openly criticized the lop sided attitude of the ICC.
All in all,this paved way for a classic Indian domination in world Cricketing affairs today.. However, this so called Indian domination is initially confined to non playing activities, finance and administrative matters and now to the game of Cricket as well.. Long Live Sunil Gavaskar And Long Live Cricket Of India.