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Remembering our heroes

Dilip Sardesai passed away at 66.

May his soul rest in peace.

I never saw much of Sardesai’s game – the only time I remember seeing a television footage of him was The Oval test of 1971. Most of the things I know of him are from reading Raju Bharatan’s columns in The Hindu. I also remember reading a Wadekar interview where he talks highly of Sardesai’s Carribean 1971 innings’. Of course, any fan of Gavaskar’s would know “the other guy” who amassed runs in Sunny’s debut tour.

Harsha Bhogle writes in his column:

As we bowed in homage to Dilip Sardesai, those dancing feet now static, Nari Contractor said to me “Have you noticed how many current Mumbai players are here?” I wish he had never said that for the heart was already heavy. There were none.

One generation not only provides inspiration, and a legacy, for another; it gives birth either to confidence, or only sometimes, to despair. Till 1971, we did not believe that England could be beaten in England, till 1959, we did not believe Australia could be beaten, till 1968 nobody thought India could win a test series overseas. But that generation had belief instilled in it by the deeds of Mankad and Umrigar who doubtlessly doubtlessly were inspired by Merchant and Nayudu. It was thus that a Gavaskar arrived, his desire for excellence fuelled by the deeds of his uncle’s generation and it was thence, that a Kapil Dev came.

Elsewhere, Mukul Keshavan argues that our cricket reporting is to be blamed:

Not giving a ‘lesser’ player credit where he has earned it is the flip side of our hero-obsession. When we neglect Sardesai’s role in that watershed series or Chetan Sharma’s inspired bowling in 1986, we don’t merely do them an injustice, we misread our past and we devalue our victories. India hasn’t won often enough for us to be careless with our triumphs: we need to attend to them and to pay our dues to the men who made them possible, men like Chetan Sharma and Dilip Narayan Sardesai.

Prem Panicker notes an interesting anecdote on Sardesai:

That was also when he launched into a diatribe against famous fathers seeking to pitch-fork their sons onto the big stage. What about your son Rajdeep, I asked him. Ever regretted that he did not grow into a cricketer? No, was the immediate response—the boy can’t play, he would have embarrassed me!

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