Jeffrey Archer: ‘Pataudi was last among of old-fashioned amateurs’

British author Jeffrey Archer, who is keenly following the Cricket World Cup 2019 in England and Wales, feels Virat Kohli is a ‘level-headed intelligent captain’.

Tiger Pataudi’s grit after his car accident fascinates Jeffrey Archer to this day.   -  FILE PHOTO/V. SREENIVASA MURTHY

Jeffrey Archer, one of the best-selling English authors, is keenly following the World Cup. The creator of the famous ‘Kane and Abel’ series had also written a short story ‘Century’, whose main protagonist many believed, was based on Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi.

“I have been very privileged to have known Nawab of Pataudi, when we were both studying at the Oxford and we remained friends through that time. Quite recently, I had done a big charity auction for his wife (Sharmila Tagore) and daughter and I admire them both,” said Archer.

During their days at Oxford, Archer would often bump into Pataudi at university’s sports club Vincent’s.

“I was an athlete and I captained Oxford and ran for Great Britain. We met at Vincent’s. He was very aware of my love for cricket. I have been a passionate follower of cricket all my life,” said the former British MP.

Tiger Pataudi’s grit after his car accident fascinates Archer to this day and he fondly remembers the man whom he calls “last among old fashioned amateurs.”

“When Tiger had that accident, I had assumed that he would never play cricket again. I underestimated his amazing character and determination.

“He wouldn’t just give up and go away. He just got on with it. The fact that he was able to play the game at the world level was staggering and made him a great hero at Oxford, someone whom we all looked up to,” he recollected.

He has over the years interacted with the top Indian cricketers from Sachin Tendulkar to Virat Kohli.

“I have more recently met Kohli and found him a very level-headed intelligent captain, who I think is going to break all the records in the book,” he felt.

But while the ‘Tiger’ remains a sentimental favourite, Archer admires Anil Kumble because of the way he conducted himself after Harbhajan Singh faced sanctions for his alleged racist abuse of Andrew Symonds.

“Well, Kumble is one of the best captains, we have ever seen. I thought his behaviour in Australia when (Ricky) Ponting was the Australian captain was an example to all of us. He behaved with such dignity that he became an example.”

One of his favourite Test matches is the epic clash between India and Australia in Kolkata, back in 2001.

“V.V.S. Laxman and Rahul Dravid remained at the crease one whole day and it remains one of the greatest Test matches ever played,” Archer remembered.

“Both Dravid and Laxman are serious readers and I found them to be very intelligent people.”

So do all cricketers read his books?

“Cricketers? Yes but their wives even more so. I mean Tendulkar’s wife, Kumble’s wife have been passionate supporters (of my work).”

Archer was recently in India for the Jaipur Literature Festival. He was extremely touched to find out that 7,500 people had come to hear him speak.

He has started a new series on William Warwick, the eponymous hero of Hary Clifton, the writer in his earlier series Clifton Chronicles.

“I am doing a seven book series on William Warwick, His journey from a constable to commissioner of Metropolitan Police, That if I manage to live long enough,” the 79-year-old signed off.