Naturally drawn to cricket

R. K. Pachauri always finds the time to indulge in his favourite pastime.-

R. K. Pachauri’s love for cricket has been life-long — evident from the two picture postcard-pretty cricket grounds he has helped to lay out at The Energy and Resources Institute’s (TERI) gram at Gurgaon. By A. Joseph Antony.

It was a face-off between cricket’s Errol Flynn (Mushtaq Ali) and Sledgehammer Sam (Sam Loxton).

The Indian team was put up at the Carlton Hotel in Lucknow and a young boy couldn’t just get enough of his idol Ali, whom the dashing Keith Miller had compared to the Hollywood legend. Rightly sensing that the lad would do his bidding, the batsman issued some instructions.

And the next morning as Ali went out to bat, the young boy, R. K. Pachauri, who had by then rounded-up a set of lads to assist him, yelled, “Look out Loxton. Mushtaq is coming to get you.” Ali threw the youngster a knowing glance, on his way to the crease, and by then others had joined in.

Clearly, there was no love lost between Ali and the square-jawed Loxton. Sure enough, when the Aussie pacer purveyed his prowess, Ali was hardly brow-beaten. Instead, he stepped out against the speedster and slammed Loxton for a four, with an élan which he often exhibited as an opener.

“Mushtaq Ali, who played for Holkar, under the patronage of the royal family had that princely grace,” recalls the wide-eyed boy, who, later as an environmentalist, would win the Nobel Prize as Chairman of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), along with Al Gore, former U.S. Vice President. “Present day fans do not have a tenth of the access we had to players such as Mushtaq.” The secret deal had definitely won the swashbuckler a loyal fan for life.

Pachauri’s love for cricket has been life-long — evident from the two picture postcard-pretty cricket grounds he has helped to lay out at The Energy and Resources Institute’s (TERI) gram (village) at Gurgaon. “Dattu Phadkar coached me when I was studying engineering in Bihar,” the scientist says, retracing his past. “Great cricketers need not be good coaches. But well after his retirement Phadkar could practically demonstrate the three types of deliveries that took him places. They were for specific levels — first for club, next for first-class and the best was for Tests.”

The grounds at TERI are nurtured with care, staying true to its Director General’s environmentalist roots. “Water for the grounds is recharged by rain-water harvesting, grass is grown organically,” he says. Big names like Kevin Pietersen, Virender Sehwag, Sourav Ganguly and Yuvraj Singh have graced the Teri Oval, one of the venues of the defunct Indian Cricket League. “I once had Mithali Raj caught and bowled,” the part-time swing bowler, proudly admits.

“While we’ve had the world’s best spinners, we haven’t produced many fast bowlers,” Pachauri notes. Asked whether Pakistan producing pacers with assembly-line regularity against India’s poor showing on that front could be put down to the former’s non-vegetarian food habits, the one-time meat-eater turned vegetarian refuses to agree. “The North West Frontier Province lifestyles and traditions make them tough,” he opines. “But there are enough proteins available from vegetarian sources. Can we deny the elephant or the horse lacks strength? Both are completely vegetarian.”

Partnering Paul McCartney of Beatles, he had recently addressed the European Parliament in Brussels, in a conference on global warming and food policy by launching a campaign called ‘Less Meat = Less Heat.’

Pachauri’s parting suggestion to the Indian Premier League (IPL), swimming in money, is to offset its carbon footprint by investing in a forest or planting trees so that the debit at least equals the credit.