Born and brought up in Bombay, I feel I should write about school cricket during the 60’s. The aspirations of most kids playing the great game is to reach the pinnacle i.e. represent the country. Every child dreams of achieving this glory. Schools cricket is the nursery of the game and it is a big thing to represent ones school. The pride and glory associated with it is something to be experienced. The boys who grew up during this era were very lucky as from a very young age they got an opportunity to rub shoulders with first class players who were more than willing to play this game against the kids in different tournaments. Money was pittance compared to the mega bucks earned today. People played for pride and love of the game. There were great coaches to guide these youngsters and I will mention a few. Shri Anna Vaidya, Shri Amladi, The great Vinu Mankad who used to coach boys at the P.J. Hindu Gymkhana ground under the aegis of L. R.Tairsee nets, and Mr Mamsa. Many boys went on to achieve first class status. Giles and Harris shield tournaments were very competitive. Numerous schools had class players. I’ll name a few, Balmohan Vidya Mandir, Chhabildas, who had players like Mohan Narkar and Devidas Joshi, Fellowship High School from which came the Mankad brothers, Hindi Vidya Bhavan who had Ramesh Nagdeo, St. Xavier’s High School which gave us Gavaskar and Milind Rege, Poddar High School who gave to Bombay Ranjan Baindoor and lastly Anjuman-I-Islam School from which came many players namely Iqbal Qasim, Anwar Quereshi, Basheeruddin, Salim Kapadia who toured Australia with the Indian School Boys. There was one more player Hanif Kadri, a superb all-rounder who disappeared quite young. One fast bowler, Keith Nunes of Fellowship High School was so quick that some Bombay players were finding it difficult to face him. I believe he migrated to New Zealand quite young. There were reciprocal exchanges between the English and the Indian School boys cricket teams. In 1966 the English school boys visited India under the captaincy of Victor Brooks who had his brother John as his under study. Gavaskar, Nagdeo, Quereshi all played against the said visitors. Later on the Indian school boys visited England under the captaincy of Ajit Naik and this team had some fantastic cricketers who went on to represent our nation or their states. Players like Laxman Singh of Rajasthan, Dipankar Sarkar and Raja Mukherjee of Bengal, Rakesh Tandon, The Amarnath brothers, Jasbir Singh and Avinash Kamerkar of Bombay. The Indian school boys also visited Australia a few years on under the captaincy of Raja Mukherjee. Players like Bharat Kundran, Salim Kapadia and Kersan Ghavri were some players in the team. Ghavri was given the best player of the tour by Sir Donald Bradman. I would like to mention here that during the same period our senior team was visiting Australia. Unfortunately, our school boys had to face 2 quicks, Simcock and Thompson, who were quicker than our fast bowlers Ramakant Desai and Umesh Kulkarni. You can well imagine the plight of our school boys. There were hardly any injuries and cricket was really heavenly then, without any monetary gains.
By Kiran Dhairyawan