Kirmani in the living room

Sports broadcaster Gaurav Kapur recalls the first meeting with 1983 World Cup winner Syed Kirmani and how he missed out on a cricket career because of Mike Gatting!

Gaurav Kapur.   -  AFP

Most of my memories are fan related, and one of them is with Sportstar. The week I didn’t have pocket money to buy the magazine, I would go to Kalra News Stand in Hauz Khas market (in Delhi) just to read it front to back. I was 8, and it was sweet of the news vendor to allow me. But the incident that actually put gasoline in the fire I had for cricket was at my residence.

My father’s friend, Mukul Goel — who also played competitive cricket in Delhi — was close to Syed Kirmani (1983 World Cup winner). Whenever ‘Kiri’ came to Delhi, he stayed at his place. One day, he told my father that he would bring Kirmani over for a drink and that way, I could meet him too. Mukul uncle knew I was a cricket fan and he had also gifted me those Benson and Hedges books. He was a favourite uncle. When Kiri actually came, I was so shy that I hid behind the door. Before he arrived, I was almost somersaulting in excitement. He spotted me and called me. I sat next to him and heard cricket stories. He autographed my Benson and Hedges book on the page which had his picture. Years later, I told him how his shining head had caught my eye. It was like a floodlight.

My father had a big role behind my cricket obsession. We would often play selector and pick the XI before tournaments. He had promised me a Kashmiri willow if England won the World Cup in 1987. Australia were favourites, and I was with England.

We lost, and I didn’t get the willow.

Many years later, I met Mike Gatting (whose wicket led to England’s downfall in the final) while I was shooting in the UK. I told him he cost me a cricket career. He was like, “What are you even talking about?”

As told to Wriddhaayan Bhattacharyya.