Pataudi Trophy, or Specsavers? Sharmila Tagore seeks clarification

The wife of former India captain, late Mansur Ali Khan, after whom the 'Pataudi Trophy' came into being in 2007, points to the reigning confusion over the name of the series.

It will be a great moment if Sharmila Tagore hands over the Pataudi Trophy to skipper Virat Kohli at the end of the Test series. (File Photo)   -  PTI

When Team India travels to The Oval for its final Test match against England next month, Sharmila Tagore will be present at the venue to hand over the Pataudi Trophy to the winning team. The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has decided that the series-winning team will be handed over the trophy — named after Iftikar Ali Khan Pataudi and his son, Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi.

Instituted by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in 2007, the Pataudi Trophy was introduced to commemorate 75 years of Test cricket between India and England.

But this time, there has been a bit of confusion on whether the series is called the Pataudi Trophy or the Specsavers Test series — named after ECB’s sponsors.

Sharmila, a veteran actress and wife of former India captain, late Mansur Ali Khan, however, hopes that there is ‘clarification’ on the name of the series. “The Pataudi Trophy was instituted by the MCC quite a few years ago but I am not sure whether it was cleared with the ECB or the BCCI at the time. The BCCI did make it clear that when England play in India it would be called the Anthony de Mello Trophy,” Sharmila told Sportstar from Dehradun on Saturday.

Whenever a Test series against England is hosted by India, the teams play for the Anthony de Mello Trophy. Similarly, whenever India tours England for Tests, the teams play for the Pataudi Trophy.

She also recollected an incident in 2011 when Mansur Ali Khan, too, was left confused at The Oval, where he was invited to give away the trophy.

“Tiger was invited by the ECB to present the Pataudi trophy at the Oval in London in 2011. I had accompanied him. At the official lunch they rehearsed how the trophy presentation would be conducted.

However, when it was time to felicitate the winners, Mike Atherton, who was the presenter of the ceremony, did not announce the Pataudi trophy. He was reading out from the list he had been given which leads me to think perhaps the ECB had not cleared the matter with their sponsors and so it had been omitted as a result.

The English team was taken away for photo opportunities and to celebrate and Tiger was left standing by the trophy. Andrew Strauss, the English captain at the time, noticed Tiger standing unsure of what to do and went over to him,” Sharmila recollected.

“Tiger handed him the trophy but this exchange was neither photographed nor televised. This was in August. We had gone to London especially at the invitation of the ECB for the presentation of the Pataudi Trophy and so we were naturally a little confused that things had not gone as planned as late as the official lunch time of the same day as the match.

On our return to India Tiger fell ill and was admitted to the hospital. He passed away in September. Our family had other priorities at the time and consequently we could not give the matter our attention,” she added.

In 2014, when India toured England, Sharmila was again invited by the ECB to give away the trophy to the winning side.

“The ECB did include the Pataudi trophy in the presentation, but the official cup was called the Investec series after the sponsors. The fact that there are two trophies with two different names for one winning team creates a fair amount of ambiguity especially when only the sponsor trophy is covered by the media."

She, of course, would like it to be ‘called the Pataudi Trophy, sponsored by the ECB’s sponsors.’

“Naturally the family would like the trophy to be called the Pataudi Trophy - perhaps it could be called the Pataudi Trophy sponsored by Investec or the relevant sponsor - but we understand that this is the ECB’s prerogative. However, the situation as it stands is unsatisfactorily ambiguous and some clarification is required,” she said.

Sharmila, however, admits that the ‘BCCI has been kind’.

“They have instituted the Pataudi Memorial Lecture and it has been conducted every year with great success. Most recently the lecture was delivered by Kevin Pietersen and it was absolutely brilliant.

As a family we are very honoured that the MCC has instituted the Pataudi Trophy and that the ECB presents it to the winning team in London. Beyond that we don’t have any role to play in how the trophy is presented or covered in the media,” she said.