Paddy Shivalkar: Goel sahab and I were born in the wrong era

It was fitting that Goel sahab and I were rewarded with the Lifetime Achievement Award on the same day. I could feel the sense of satisfaction on his face.

Rajinder Goel in action during a Ranji Trophy match against Delhi in 1979.   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES


End of an era is actually a cliche but I just cannot think of anything else to summarise my feelings on the sad demise of Rajinder Goel, a left-arm spinner with guile and a thorough gentleman.

In many ways, with our careers overlapping each other, I had the privilege of playing with and against him a few times. Unfortunately, we didn’t have as much of off-the-field camaraderie with each other so I didn’t know him as an individual as well some of our contemporaries.

But all those common friends and cricketers would rave about him being one of the gentlest human beings one would come across. And my experience during the limited interactions with him was no different.

We both were fortunate to have been mentored by two of the greatest cricketers in India. While Goel sahab had Lala Amarnath monitoring his progress early on, I was fortunate to have bumped into Vinoobhai (Vinoo Mankad) at a chance trial at Bombay Gymkhana that changed my life forever.

READ| Rajinder Goel: A spin wizard with a big heart

But our bowling styles were a little different. While he relied more on dipping the ball in and using flight variation in between, I was more of a spinner who preferred to deceive the batsman in flight.

Despite our bowling style, the commonest aspect of our sojourn was the fact that we both were perhaps born in the wrong era. With Bishan Singh Bedi being a permanent fixture in the national team and the selectors somehow not looking at another left-arm spinner in the team, we both had to be content with an India cap in ‘unofficial’ Tests.

But as both of us have often been saying, we were not destined to play international cricket. And a lot of common friends tell me that the fact that neither of us is bitter about it is yet another common factor between us.

It was fitting that Goel sahab and I were rewarded by the BCCI with the Lifetime Achievement Award on the same day. Since both of us had our families accompanying us, we couldn’t really spend a lot of time talking to each other. Still, I could feel the sense of satisfaction on his face that day.

As told to Amol Karhadkar

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