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   I have been looking at the pictures of... (April 10, 1996)

I have been looking at the pictures of the Australian cricketers. They all look large and middle-aged, more like the Australian component of the A&Z bankers than cricketers.

Most outside cricketers look large and old. The Australians look large and middle-aged, the West Indies are, of course, all massive people, the pace bowlers near giants, the South Africans look like the Austalians. Even the Pakistanis are large Punjabi farmers, or Pathans like Imran Khan, eyes crinking in the sun.

Only the Indians and Sri Lankans are small and puny. The Sri Lankans have proved that being small and puny does not stop them from playing championship cricket. The Indians have yet to prove it.

There are one or two Sri Lankans who are heavy, with protruding stomachs filled with boiled rice. They look positively unhealthy, but not when they are fieling or batting.

Our Indians, with the exception of Kapil Dev and Mohinder Amarnath, are small fellows. Even Srinath, who as the No. 1 pace bowler you would expect to be large and broad shouldered, is a thin wisp of a man, who between balls clutches his waist and screws his face with exhaustion. Perhaps, these are just mannerisms and his face is like that, but it does not inspire much confidence in his stamina. But I must say he bowls wonderfully well and with great venom… on his days.

A large number of Indian cricketers are short in height. When they are good, they are refered to as as Little Masters. A lot of people think it is a phrase coined for Indian cricketers, but the first little master was Hanif Mohamed of Pakistan.

Physique apart, as a rule cricketers, and I am talking of cricketers the world over, are not a handsome race. From Don Bradman to Richie Benaud and some of out legendary cricketers, as looks go they are passable and less. Though there are some major exceptions. Denis Compton and Keith Miller were paragons of good-looking sportsmen. Our own Farrokh engineer, though not now, was in the same class, dashingly handsome. And who can deny Salim Durrani his looks! He was truly a made-for-the-movies star. It is a pity he could not act.

There are also cricketers with class. The Pataudis, father and son, had class written all over them. So had Imran Khan, before he got sucked into politics and his cancer hospital. I strongly believe that cricketers should only play cricket, not do anything else. They make enough money out of cricket, where is the need! But they should be associated with cricket, even after their playing days.

In that sense, I believe, the cricketer who is making the biggest contribution to the game after his retirement is Dilip Vengsarkar. I am expecting a few champions from his stable.

 
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