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   My life has been series of cricket milestones... (February 18, 1996)

My life has been series of cricket milestones. I remember in the steadfastness of cool Panchgani evenings, a favoured group of three or four, going to the principal's house to listen to cultured English voices describing the elegance of Mushtaq Ali and the grace of Vijay Merchant against Trueman and Statham. V. Merchant, 128. Run out, by arsenal forwar Dennis Compton accurately kicking the ball into his wicket.

1946 was my all time favourite Indian cricket team to England. A record last wicket partnership against Surrey by Chandu Sarwate and Shute Bannerjee, Hindlekar playing out the final over in the second Test and saving India from defeat, so charmingly reported by John Arlott in his Indian Summer, Rusi Modi cold and frozen under four sweaters, and Lala Amarnath Ė Len Hutton, Cyril Washbrook, Walter Hammond and Denis Compton in a trot, a thorn in England's side, according to C.R. Mandy of the Illustrated Weekly.

It was Lala who took India to Australia the following year, red handkerchief round his neck, and that special Amarnath swagger, win or lose. It was in Australia that India discovered Dattu Phadkar, a coiled spring that whipped and snapped open at the bowling crease. And it was in Australia that I discovered Khandu Rangnekar, standing in the slips, arms folded, feet wide apart.

In India, at the Brabourne Stadium, where eagles nested in the rafters in between cricket seasons, I watched the Hindus play the Parsis in the last of the Pentangulars. G. Kishenchand from Karachi, G.S. Ramchand from the BEST, S.W. Sohoni from the Bombay Municipal Corporation, and S.G.Shinde, who was to become Sharad Pawar's father-in-law.

And it was at the Brabourne that I was the first of the West Indies. Half the side was white then, Goddard and Strollmeyer and Gerry Gomez. Walcott was a gangly wicket-keeper, and Everton Weeks was to complete five Test centuries in a raw and receive a purse from the readers of The Times Of India.

Television came with a burst. Suddenly, the newspapers were filled with newspapers were filled with advertisements of households with television sets that were prepared to provide seats in their drawing-rooms for a price. It was black-and-white TV, but who cared! A TV was a TV.

But it came too late. By the time Hutton had stopped playing and Hammond had passed away and Peter May and retired and Donald Bradman had become a recluse. But Mandkad's two sons, who I had last seen in their baba suits in family portraits in Lancashire, were playing, and Polly Umrigar was ploughing the fields and sowing the clouds with his bat, and there was a new cricketer for the record books, sombody called Sunil Gavaskar, nephew of Madhav Mantri.

Both my life and Gavaskar's have advanced since then. This month, I expect more milestones in our lives.

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