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In recognition of their contribution to cricket, former cricketers who played international and first-class cricket and who retired before 2004, will be honoured during the playoff matches of IPL 2012. From the surplus revenue to the BCCI from the IPL and CLT20, a one-time payment will be made to these players.
In the first of such presentations to be held to pay tribute to the stalwarts of the game, the following ex-cricketers were handed this reward at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium in front of friends, family and cricket lovers today: Chandu Borde, Sanjay Manjrekar, Nari Contractor, Ajit Wadekar, Anshuman Gaekwad, Bapu Nadkarni, Arshad Ayub, Madhav Apte, M R Rege, Srikanth Kalyani, P Shivalkar, T Arothe, Surendra Bhave, SS Sugvekar and Venkat Sundaram.
A few of the former greats of Indian cricket, who graced the field when the game was still taking root in the country, shared their views on the occasion.
Anshuman Gaekwad: I think this initiative is fantastic. I never expected to this to come up. I have seen a lot of cricket bodies all over the world and the facilities extended to the players and otherwise. But this is the first time I have seen some board really coming forward and giving money to the ex -cricketers. What usually happens is out-of-sight is out-of-mind. Not many associations are really taking care of the cricketers of yesteryears. [...] This kind of initiative is a big-time help, financially, and it would make them smile.
It was a great honour to be there with all the legends, the senior cricketers, the junior cricketers and to be the focus of all the people there leaving the IPL aside. That we were asked to come there on the ground, was a great honour, and you feel nice [...].
M R Rege: Felt like our hardwork has been recognized and rewarded. It is a bighearted gesture by the BCCI. In my time, we would get only Rs 250 for a Test match. [...] Now that cricket is a profession, is a good thing, because a player can focus on playing cricket and doesn’t have to do other things. [...]. The BCCI has to be thanked for generating the resources for cricket and cricketers.
Bapu Nadkarni: It is very nice of BCCI to consider all cricketers like us. The financial position of the Board as well as the cricketers was not good at all. But when they have the money now and are really well, it is very nice of them to help cricketers like us who devoted their whole career with no money at all.
Padmakar Shivalkar: This is the most memorable moment, because of this recognition that BCCI has given. Before this, the pension sort of thing that they have started is a big thing that they have done for us. The high points on field in cricket are different, but this is the biggest moment of my life. Whatever we did with utmost sincerity back then, this is the reward for that. And we have no words to express our thanks to BCCI. [...]
Chandu Borde: It has come as very pleasant surprise to me, when I read in the newspaper and later on when I got the message. I played for a number of years and perhaps the highest number of Test matches in this group and whatever I earned that time, this is hundred times more than that. This is a very useful and great gesture on the part of the BCCI and I really thank the president and all the committee members of the BBCI for taking this great decision [...]. I am very touched by this gesture. [...] I am very happy that they have taken this decision. And that it is not only us, but they are going to take care of the widows also, which is a tremendous gesture and I congratulate them for this. All the players who played during that time will be always very thankful for the board. I am very thankful.
Madhav Apte: My generation are extremely pleased and thankful to the BCCI for two reasons; financial help of course is very welcome, but more than that it is the recognition, which we older cricketers have been given, I think that is important. Because when we played, I played Test cricket 58 years ago, so to be recognized is very satisfying. BCCI needs all the thanks and praise for what they have done.
Venkat Sundaram: When we played cricket in the 70s and 80s, we never dream that we would live to see such a day when for our contribution to Indian cricket, [we] will be honoured. But it is wonderful to be here and I think it is a tremendous initiative of the board because as you get older, you need a lot of help – financial and otherwise. And it’s very nice that the board has remembered us at this time. It is a very humbling thought and I think it is a tremendous initiative and we have no words to express how grateful we are.
Receiving [this reward] at the IPL playoffs makes it even more special because it is important to introduce the legends of the game to generation next. 80 percent of the spectators or maybe more, who were present at the ground, were not even born when we played. So they should also know that there were many pillars of Indian cricket, who contributed to the game, and what you are seeing today is the efforts, which were started then are now bearing fruit.
T Arothe: It’s a great gesture from the BCCI and IPL, no doubt about it. [...] They are giving us this memento or cheque and we are all delighted.
Responsibility can have one of two effects on a person – it either brings out the best in them or it crumbles them. It’s difficult to say what the responsibility of leading theMumbai Indians has done toHarbhajan Singh the bowler. But as the man himself admits, it has mellowed him down as an individual. The once-temperamental Turbanator now has a more balanced outlook towards cricket and life. The maturity and patience is unmistakable when he talks to you. “You have to think differently as a captain, then you do as a player,” he says.
After leading the Mumbai Indians to the 2011, Harbhajan was thrust into captaincy in IPL 2012 when Sachin Tendulkar decided to step down. While tactically not the soundest captain, he has shown tremendous calmness during the various nervewracking situations that his team has faced right through the season.
After crossing all hurdles, MI have made it to the playoffs in Bhajji’s reign. On the eve of leading his team into the second qualifier, against the defending champions, Chennai Super Kings, the MI skipper spoke to iplt20.com about the season so far, his own bowling and the strengths and weaknesses of their opponents. From some games in last IPL to the CLT20 and now IPL 2012 – what is that one area where you think you have really improved as a captain?
From the last time I have become calmer and more composed; I don’t get angry when things don’t go in our favour. At the end of the day, I have to understand that in this format, the bowlers will go for runs and sometimes batsmen will get out. If you come across as a guy who gets really aggressive when things don’t go in your favour, it will not set the right tone for the rest of the 10 guys on the field.
Did the number of close games that you played out this season help you deal with pressure situations?
Yes. Especially in T20 you do come across such situations often and you have to deal with them. You’ll eventually win some and lose some but being calm and composed at that moment will enable you to take better decisions. As a leader it is important to lead from the front, not only on the field but off it as well. You should send positive vibes to the team. There are times when you talk to your teammates and suddenly you realise that you can pull off the game from the most difficult positions. You have defeated CSK in both the league matches in the tournament. Will that give you an edge?
Whatever games we have played so far are all gone and I don’t believe in thinking of what has happened in the past. If I have to see this game, I will see it as a fresh one. CSK have been the champions twice and they will come hard at us knowing that it’s a must-win game. We have plans for them, and hopefully, we can execute them on the day. How much of an impact will Ben Hilfenhaus have, especially swinging the new ball?
It depends on the particular day whether he is swinging the ball or our batsmen are swinging the bat. We have got batsmen who can handle any kind of bowlers. We are looking forward to this game and we know that if we play to our potential, we can beat any side in this competition. After trying out eight different opening combinations, has the team found the best one yet?
Not yet. We have got [Herschelle] Gibbs who did well for us in Kolkata and now we have got [Dwayne] Smith who played a perfect innings in Rajasthan for us. We’ll discuss what the ideal combination would be for the day and the opposition. What is the biggest threat that CSK poses to your team?
They are a very confident bunch and they have the experience of playing these big games and winning them. That is probably their strength. They have players like MS Dhoni, Dwayne Bravo and Albie Morkel who have done well over the years for them.
Why haven’t you completed your quota of four overs in most games this season?
As a captain you need to read the game from a different prospective. For the team’s sake you have to take bold decisions of not bowling a bowler if he’s not required, be it Harbhajan, Muralitharan or Warne. It’s not that I don’t want to bowl – I always want to bowl as many overs that I can. But as a captain you have to stop thinking about yourself. I put my team ahead of single individuals and I feel that is very important to go forward. Would you field a pace-heavy bowling attack on this wicket?
I have not decided on what team to go with. Last time Pragyan Ojha played a crucial role in us beating CSK, with his two wickets. In this format, it’s not about which wicket you play on. It’s more about playing with the batsman’s mind.