This morning, the Hyderabad Veteran's Cricket Association organised a get together at Gymkhana to felicitate V.V.S. Laxman and Pragyan Ojha and also conduct some other activities. The President of the Veteran's Association is the indefatigable Capt. Manohar Sharma who was my manager when we went on the Under 25 tour to Chennai under D. Suresh's captaincy. I found him to be one of the more perceptive, man managers and one who was sensitive to our needs. He is now an active social worker and does good community work in his area, Uma Nagar. He has also authored a book on cricket humour with several cricketing anecdotes compiled from his playing days.
|Two caps I take great pride in wearing - Osmania and the HCA|
Abhijit Chatterjee my old teammate from almost thirty years ago called me and I said I would be there. We were supposed to wear our whites for a group photograph and so I did and went over to the ground at 930 in the morning. The first one to call out to me was Venkatapathi who did not like me turning up in my white shirt and cream trousers. 'Why did you not wear your whites?' he demanded in his usual style, concerned for me. I joked with him that this was the dress code that our seniors wore. 'Hmm,' he said. 'Only you and Alladi Raju are wearing shirts.' Lachi always wished the best for me and we had many wonderful moments together and still do. But I played all my cricket in tailor-made shirts and trousers thanks to our Sreekala Tailors at Ameerpet!
It was quite a large gathering. Among the seniors were Murtuza Ali Baig, Inder Raj, Nagesh Hammand, Moses Nityanand, Vijay Paul, Habib Khan, Sardar Khan, Rehmat Baig, Manohar Sharma, Naushir Mehta, Rajamani, Lokender Raj, Abdul Bari Wahab, Faiyaz Baig. Some of the players who were my contemporaries were Venkatpathi, Arshad Ayub, Vijay Mohan Raj, Swaroop, Chetan Joshi, Kishenlal Yadav, Chatterjee, Vijay Kumar, C.V. Anand, Abdul Azeem, B. Srinivas, Raj Kumar, Santosh Hammand, Kamlesh Parikh, Harender Yadav, Salamath Ali Khan, Yuvraj Singh, Gajanand Reddy, Ranga Raj, Ganesh. Among the juniors were Vishnuvardhan Reddy, Nanda Kishore, Kiran, Syed Miraj, Arvind Shetty and so many more that I need a picture to tell most names. The entire Ranji team was there I think - Ravi Teja, Ahmed Quadri, Vihari, Parth Jhala, Quader, Ibrahim Khaleel and a few more youngsters, I saw Vaibhav as well.
The proceedings started with a couple of teams being drawn from the gentlemen present and a friendly game being played. Everyone had a bowl and a bat of course. I couldn't bowl because of my bad shoulder and I was not fit anyway. V.V.S. donned the pads and played a few balls and soon the game ended and we were all set for the felicitation. The program went off smoothly and senior cricketers were felicitated - Vijay Paul, Rehmat Baig, Habib Khan, Sardar Khan, Lokendar Raj and then to both current test players V.V.S.Laxman, who was also recently awarded a Padmashri, and Pragyan Ojha, with a shawl and a memento. V.V.S. spoke well and said that whatever he was was because of Hyderabad cricket and he owed much to the HCA, the coaches, the players, the seniors. He also said he was hurt that the Hyderabad team was doing badly and hoped they would come back strongly soon. A nice gesture from the Veteran's Association was to felicitate the old Ranji Trophy players with a Hyderabad cap and a Hyderabad sweater - two things I am very proud to have in my room. I also spotted Gordon Ganesh wearing an Osmania cap and asked him if he could get me one and Gordon, as he typically is, large-hearted, gave me his cap instantly. It was lovely to come back with these prized colours.
Everyone broke for lunch and with promises to meet again soon. I was really glad I went there. Thankfully I will get a few pics from Major Kiran, my writing friend, and hopefully some from V.V.Subramanyam, the fine Hindu reporter. But until then, I will publish a pic of two caps that I cherish most - the HCA and the Osmania colours.