“I will meet you Shirish , you please call me tomorrow, as today I am having some medical Tests, you send me the questions you want to ask” King of spin Bishen Singh Bedi told me over the phone and took away my sleep. I dreamt whole night of meeting the magician spinner of world cricket and unarguably the best left arm spinner in the world till date.
Though my dreams were shattered next day, as Bedi ji sent a message that he won’t meet this time due to severe back pain, still was enough for me to carry the memory of a telephonic talk he had with me to Mumbai and keep my hopes of interviewing him alive and possible .
I was in Delhi for some other important official work but had great desire to meet former Delhi cricketers whom we used to see as equally capable enemies when they played Mumbai in Ranji Trophy fixtures in full house stadiums of Mumbai.
It’s far more easier now to get a seat in north stand Wankhede Stadium for a Test match or even ODI than to get ‘I’ block seat in North stand for a match against Delhi those days. The Mumbai Delhi rivalry was as deep and intense as India Pakistan match.
The same rivalry had turned today into nostalgic emotion for ardent fan of cricket of seventies and eighties.
“Sir whom can I meet when I reach Delhi?” I asked former India player Yajurvindra singh ji, who has been a great well wisher for our sportsnasha venture, before boarding a train to Delhi . Yajurvindra ji forwarded to me contacts of Surinder Khanna ji a former prolific scorer and wicket keeper of Delhi team and a player who also was Asia cup win hero for India in 1984 Sharjah tour.
Surinder Khanna was extremely courteous and asked me to come to his house. ” We will have a chat over a drink ” He reminded me of famous north Indian unmatchable hospitality. I was shy but anxious and accepted his offer without thinking twice.
“I have played a lot of cricket against Mumbai and respect the players from Mumbai always . Sunny bhai (Gavaskar), Dilip Vengsarkar , Ravi Shastri , Sandeep Patil all are my friends though we were staunch competitors on field those days.
Those days we used to get a paltry Rs.50 for playing a first class match though our commitment was genuine” He was indicating cricket has changed now a days with loyalties more for money than a country or a team .
I saw a lot of passion in his eyes for good serious cricket and more than anything else he lived and is willing to do anything for the game which has given him every thing enough to spend his retired life comfortably with satisfaction.
” Sarswasti is more important than Laxmi ” he had a very clear and paramount message for new generation of sportsmen.m
Hats off to Surinder ji for letting me take a bag full of memories along with Delhi Namkin to Mumbai
And of course our childhood god of Indian spin bowling Bishen Singh Bedi ji for considering my request for small interview, which might happen in future visits to Delhi.
Delhi was very cold last week but these yesteryear greats did not cold shoulder me at all was their modesty perhaps.
Delhi aab door nahi , pass hi pass lagti hai.
Who a few years back a solely Mumbai cricket fan at heart but now a Delhi cricket in mind as much.