It has not been a great week what with the injury to Mark Boucher that led to his retirement and the passing away of two big men. Boucher’s retirement means that he ends his career with 999 dismissals in international cricket and will be remembered much like Sir Don, who finished his Test career with an average of 99.94.
The two big men who passed away had an impact on their chosen sports and while their contribution will always be debated, there is no doubt that they were influential as few others. Dara Singh was 84 when he left us and that in itself was a surprise because when he wrestled he was indestructible and to a young kid being carried on the shoulders of his uncle there was no one in the whole wide world, who could beat the great Dara Singh.
My uncle Shashikant used to take me on his shoulders when the crowd rose as Dara Singh had his opponent in a vicious grip and with the excitement building up to a crescendo one had to stand up to get a glimpse of what was happening out in the ring. It didn’t matter who the opponent was. There was not one bout which Dara Singh lost and that was why it is so hard to believe that he has lost this final one.
The other big man who passed on was Purushottam 'bhaiji' Rungta. He was a colossus in the Board of Control for Cricket in India for ages, and held many positions in the administration. We had our run ins at the start of my career, but there was never a doubt that he cared for Indian cricket.
He was the one who gave 'the little champion' tag to Sachin Tendulkar when he once asked me in the early 90s 'do you think the little champion will be better than you?' I replied that 'he would be the best' and 'bhaiji' would have been very happy when Sachin got his 100th century earlier this year. He was an extremely generous man too.
When such things happen then sport is put in perspective as just another activity in life. There was not one but three series happening last week with little interest in all.
Pakistan had to beat Lanka to level the Test series, but they were unable to do so since their batting did not get enough runs in both innings. Only Asad Shafiq batted well in both the innings and it was his century that gave the Pakistan innings some substance else they would have been knocked over for not too many. Kumar Sangakkara, who had got 190s in the first two Test, was brought crashing down being dismissed for a duck in the first innings, but he came back with an unbeaten 75 in the second innings.
Rain saved Australia from being beaten in all the five ODI’s as England totally dominated their old rivals in what really was a meaningless series for why have the Aussies over for a mini-series when the South Africans are here for a Test series.
In the West Indies the home team has been the stronger team than New Zealand and that should make India feel a little more confident when the Kiwis come over next month to play two Tests and two T20 matches.
Asad Shafiq for his fine batting in both innings of the third Test, is the CEAT International Cricketer of the Week.
Professional Management Group