West Indies on course to becoming a force in cricket again

Last Updated: Sun, Jul 22, 2012 06:20 hrs

The Gods above must be starved of stars, for in the last year or so they have taken from earth some of the most illustrious names in the world of business, entertainment and sports. Just a few days back they took away 'the phenomenon' - as Rajesh Khanna was called, and Suresh Saraiya, one of the most industrious of commentators and observers of cricket. 

'Kaka' as Rajesh Khanna was called came to be a heartthrob and superstar like no other and dominated the Hindi film industry for a decade and more. He also came to the fore around the time India started winning overseas and his films were the ones that the players went to see on off days between Test matches. 

Then of course the way he acted was copied by many and Ashok Mankad was the biggest fan from the cricketing world and he was quite naturally nicknamed 'Kaka' after the original 'Kaka.'  Ashok was one of the funniest guys in Indian cricket and his was the room that other players gathered in at the end of the day and got thoroughly entertained by the stories, jokes and acting that went on there. Cricket and pressure were forgotten in the hours spent with 'Kaka' Mankad, as it was watching Rajesh Khanna’s films. He was the superstar and lived like one.

I will always remember Suresh Saraiya, for he was the one who took the trouble to go home to my parents and get photos of Rohan, who had been born while I was on tour and then bring those with him to the West Indies. Those photos were my first glimpse of my son. I was out of action with a broken cheekbone when a Lance Cairns sweep off Prasanna hit me flush as I fielded at forward short leg. 

Those were the pre TV and pre helmet days of course and am thankful that the big hitting Cairns just tapped the ball and did not smash it. Rohan was born a few days after his mother heard on the radio that her husband was being taken off the ground on a stretcher. Since I could not play for three weeks and there was no Test match that I was missing, I asked the board permission to go home at my own expense and then rejoin the tour which was denied and that's why Suresh bringing the photos was terrific. 

Today of course the guys get to skip Test matches not just for their own but also for family weddings and attending the birth of their child which is a sign of the progress made. Suresh was a collector of ties and whenever possible I got him the tie that the England, Australian or South African boards would bring out for a series.

When such good men pass away, cricket hardly figures in the thought process and so the West Indies-New Zealand series did not interest as much as it should have. By winning the series 4-1, the West Indians have shown that they are on the road to recovering their status as one of the most feared teams in the world. There is still a long way to go, but this win will do wonders to their morale.

Ross Taylor tried his best to narrow the margin of the kiwi loss, but his century was in vain as Sunil Narine took five wickets to add to the four wickets he had taken in the previous game. Those two are thus the CEAT International Cricketers of the Week.

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