That boy Sachin!

Australia's Alan Davidson (left) and Belinda Clark who were inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame.-AP Australia's Alan Davidson (left) and Belinda Clark who were inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame.

Australian fast bowling legend Alan Davidson, who was inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame, recalled his first impressions of Sachin Tenduulkar. Over to K. C. Vijaya Kumar.

The Rugby World Cup in distant New Zealand is big news in England. ‘The Times' had a 48-page preview and other papers too had extensive coverage.

On September 11 at Lord's where India and England played a see-saw game that ended in a tie, televisions placed in the lounge behind the Press Box, had divided loyalties. One was tuned into cricket and the other beamed in rugby from New Zealand. Local scribes, busy keeping a tab on Parthiv Patel and Ajinkya Rahane's opening partnership, often slipped behind to catch a snatch of rugby.

Later, in the Welsh capital Cardiff, a pub had this sign: ‘Watch Wales vs Samoa, rugby World Cup.'

India goes missing

The ‘Men in Blue' were not present at the ICC Awards function in London on September 12. The official word was that the invitation reached the team only that afternoon and it was too late for the cricketers to adjust their tight schedule.

Inside the hall, India did have a feeble presence thanks to master of ceremonies Ravi Shastri, Sunil Gavaskar and ICC President Sharad Pawar and there were whispers that the Board of Control for Cricket in India was represented by Rajeev Shukla. M. S. Dhoni was awarded the ‘Spirit of Cricket' award for recalling Ian Bell during the second Test at Trent Bridge but the Indian skipper was away in his hotel room.

Gavaskar was asked about which was the most emotional moment — 1983 or 2011 — and he replied with candour: “Obviously 1983 because no one gave us a chance, we were rank outsiders and we won the World Cup. I also enjoyed the latest victory and it has done us a service in the sense that every four years when the World Cup came around, us old players were asked to relive our 1983 memories. Now that would stop.”

Sweet memories

Sachin Tendulkar was busy recovering from his toe injury but the man's all-pervading halo swirled around in the ICC awards function.

Australian fast bowling legend Alan Davidson, who was inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame, recalled his first impressions of Tendulkar. “In 1989 or 1990, I used to take a squad of six players from Australia and Ravi Shastri and Madan Lal used to get half a dozen players from India and we used to play in Hong Kong and we used to do that for years. Once we had a young player called Sachin and later I found out that he was Tendulkar. We played an English team which had top players like John Emburey and Nasser Hussain. Sachin came at number four and I thought: ‘goodness gracious, at 16 he is going out to face these fellows.' The first ball grazed past his chin, he dropped his hand and let the ball go, he did the same thing with the second one, the third one was slightly wide and he cut it like a rocket. And the next ball was pitched up and it went back over the bowler's head. I turned to Sunil (Gavaskar) and told him ‘Sunil this boy at 16 is better than what you were at 25.' I always had an eye on the boy after that,” Davidson said.

Later another Hall of Fame inductee Curtly Ambrose said: “I first saw Tendulkar in England. I was playing county cricket and he then scored a hundred in a Test and I thought, ‘he looks special but he should be in school!'”

What's in a name?

A walk into a provision shop at Cardiff proves to be a leap back into India of the past where cities still had the names inscribed by the British. Mixture, a popular savoury in South India and referred to as ‘chivda' in Hindi, is available in small packets and it is named ‘Bombay Coarse.'

In the freezer, there are umpteen curries, cooked in Birmingham and sent to shops across the United Kingdom. One such frozen curry catches the eye — ‘Madras Beef.' Bombay and Madras may be just memory milestones for innumerable Indians after linguistic fervour flipped the names back to the vernacular ‘Mumbai' and ‘Chennai' but out here, the old monikers still rule.

The shop owner Mr. Desai from Ahmedabad migrated to Wales 40 years back. “We were the first Gujarati family out here, now there are many. Are you around here on September 17? If so, do come for the Cardiff Rathayatra conducted by the Hare Krishna devotees group and they are mostly Europeans! You will get good vegetarian food,” he says. Later a walk into the city square evokes surprise. A group of local men, clad in dhoti with the sacred ash smeared across their foreheads, walk across with drum beats and chant ‘Hare Krishna.' Belief truly cuts across races!