Brushing a Star per Chance – 1

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The morning of 19th November 1956 was quite calm and cool. It had rained a bit in the night in Hyderabad. The sky was overcast and some light drizzle was possible, but every one hoped and prayed for the rain gods to leave us alone for the next five days.
The New Zeeland Cricket Team was touring India and they were to start the first test at Hyderabad that morning.

I was the working as a qualified flying instructor at 1 Air Force College, Begumpet. The Air Force was providing administrative and security cover for the Cricket stadium and I was roped in as one of the officers supervising the arrangements. I thus had a carte blanche to access the stadium at will. It was a convenient arrangement.

Another officer in that group of organizers was Flight Lieutenant Sukhdev Bhattacharya (Suku). It so happened that Suku was a childhood friend of Pankaj Roy, and Pankaj Roy was the opening batsman on the Indian side. Naturally, Suku wanted to meet up with his friend. The guest house where the cricketing stars were put up was in Jubilee Hill. Suku and I were residents of the officers mess Trimulgherry. The two locations were quite far apart. At that moment, Suku did not have a transport of his own whereas I was a proud owner of a brand new 100cc motorbike. I was easily convinced to take Suku to meet his friend early on the morning of the first day of the game. So, we went down and met Pankaj Roy. We did not have much time to spend. By about eight in the morning motor coaches arrived to convey the players to the stadium. Every one trooped out. We stood around till all the players gathered and got into the transport and the coaches left the rest house. I had parked my bike a little distance away from the lobby. I walked down, started my bike and came up to the porch to pick Suku up when suddenly one player in cricketing gear came out of the lobby in great agitation. We had no difficulty in recognizing the cricketer. He was Vijay Manjrekar, the star batsman for the Indian team. Have the coaches left? he asked in great agitation. Suku and I answered in the affirmative in unison. Vijay was crestfallen. He looked around for an official from whom he could seek help and found none. Suku then asked him if he would like a lift up to the stadium. Vijay was happy to say yes.

Suku stayed back while I lifted the great cricketer on my pillion. He was no light weight, I can assure you of that. We reached the stadium just after the coaches had arrived. Vijay was able to join up with the team on time.

Thus, chance made me brush my shoulder with a star.

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3 responses »

  1. It was the equivalent of ferrying on your mobike Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman or even Sachin Tendulkar vis-a-vis current scenario.
    Interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hello Sir,

    I have been following you blog for quite sometime and your writing has kept me hooked.

    In the above article, you say that the match started on 19 Nov 1956, but espncricinfo.com, the demi official portal of world cricket dates the match to 19 Nov 1955.

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/62802.html

    Vijay Manjrekar scored a century in that match, probably on the very day you ferried him from the team hotel to the ground…!!!!

    Thanks for your wonderful writing.

    Best regards,
    Bharath S

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