Australian sledging was not understood, recalls Chandu Borde

“Sledging was there [in the past] also. But we did not follow what they said, so it did not distract or disturb us. We did not understand the Australian English and [their] accent,” former India all-rounder Chandu Borde said, jogging his memory on his tussles with Australia.

Australians always fought till the last, says Chandu Borde.   -  M. Moorthy

Of the 55 Test matches he has played from 1958 to 1969, Chandu Borde has played in four different series against Australia. His first one was in 1959 against a side led by Richie Benaud and thereafter against those led by Bobby Simpson and Bill Lawry. A dependable and stylish right-hander and a handy leg-spinner, Borde did not turn out with spectacular performances with the bat, though he played his part with an unbeaten 30 in the pulsating Test at the Brabourne Stadium in 1964. He had also made 20 and 44 in the Kanpur Test that India won by 119 runs, thanks to off-spinner Jasu Patel’s 9 for 69 in the first innings and 5 for 55 in the second.

Talking to Sportstar on the eve of the first Test to be played in Pune against Australia, the 82-year-old Borde said: “There are many talented cricketers in the Pune region. They have seen Ranji Trophy and Duleep Trophy tournament matches, One-Day Internationals and Twenty20 matches. What the [residents of Pune] lacked was exposure to Test cricket. This Test match will give the much-needed exposure to the young talented cricketers of Maharashtra.”

Jogging his memory back to the late 1950s and touching upon the sledging aspect Australian cricketers are accused of, the 82-year-old Borde said: “Sledging was there then also. But we did not follow what they said, so it did not distract or disturb us. We did not understand the Australian English and [their] accent. Most of us did not as were accustomed to a different accent. So we did not even bother to find out what they said. The moment we started ignoring what was directed at us, the Australians also stopped sledging and began to concentrate on their game and skills.”

‘Best team in the world’

Borde played 13 Tests and scored 505 runs against a variety of bowlers like Alan Davidson, Ray Lindwall, Richie Benaud, Ian Meckiff, Graham McKenzie and Alan Connolly. “Frankly speaking, Australia was the best team in the world whenever I played against [it]. There was no other team in the world that fought till the last as Australia did. That’s what made Australia a great team. They were really good on the field. Alan Davidson was a very tricky bowler. He was accurate with his line and length. He was very nippy and surprised us all with bouncers. He would bowl the bumper when we were not ready for it.”

“Ian Meckiff was very quick, and at great speed he used to bring the ball back in. People said he had a doubtful action. [In] those days the front-foot rule was not there. They dragged their back-foot and bowled from 18 yards. And then Richie Benaud was a dynamic captain, he was not afraid to experiment.”

As the oldest living Maharashtra player, Borde has been invited by the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) for the inauguration of the first Test at the MCA Stadium at Gahunje village.