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The distinctly unlucky ones



Talent tends to defy technique. The mindset of a talented player is to create his technique backed by strength. Unfortunately not all talented players get a chance to play for the country especially in a team sport.

Sometime back veteran Indian cricketers from the 60s-80s were discussing the abundance of regional talent and they unanimously felt that Hyderabad is one State association which has produced talented and stylish cricketers consistently.

From Ghulam Ahmed, Jaisimha, M.A.K. Pataudi, Abbas Ali Baig , Abid Ali to Shivlal Yadav, Mohammad Azahruddin and V.V.S. Laxman — Hyderabad produced cricketers who were not only performers but spread enjoyment and happiness when they played.

Why couldn't Hyderabad dominate the National championship is still a mystery. In the 60s and 70s especially Hyderabad produced immense talent.

Lack of opportunities

One of them Nagesh Hammand passed away recently. Players like Wahid Yar Khan, Kenia Jayantilal, Sultan Saleem, Nagesh Hammond and Shahid Akbar were very good but faded away due to lack of right opportunities. For the talented cricketer he was, Hammand played only 20 Ranji Trophy matches.

Wahid Yar Khan, nephew of Asif Iqbal, went over to Pakistan but not before exhibiting his talent in a partnership with Jayantilal of over 120 runs in an hour against Andhra at Guntur in 1968.

What Gavaskar was to Bombay University, Jayantilal was to Osmania University. Both owned the crease. They rarely failed. Jayantilal ended up with a solitary Test and Gavaskar went on to play 125 Tests.

Veterans felt that left-arm spinner Mumtaz Hussain was distinctly unlucky not to have played for the country. Had he got the break, perhaps Bedi would have had to wait a bit longer to earn the country's colours.

Master spinner

Such was the mastery Mumtaz had over his variety that he would even bowl chinaman and googly not only with great control over each variety but also with the knack to turn the ball on any surface. His first class record — 69 matches, 213 wickets at an average of 19.59 with an economy rate of 2.15 is incredible.

There were enough quality spinners like Nausheer Mehta, Shivlal Yadav, Arshad Ayub, Venkatapathy Raju and the most unfortunate off-spinner Kanwaljit Singh. There was a choice to be made between Shivlal Yadav and Kanwaljit Singh, and Yadav was preferred.

During the camp of the BCCI under Col. Hemu Adhikari in 1974 at the Brabourne stadium, Yadav along with Kapil Dev, Yograj Singh, Raju, Jadeja and Roger Binny, was the most impressive.

In 1979 I saw a teenager Saad Bin Jung, nephew of Pataudi, score a brilliant hundred against the deadly West Indian attack at Hyderabad playing for South Zone. Batting without helmet, he was hooking the bowlers past square-leg. His unbeaten knock of 136 against Tamil Nadu on a rank bad turner of Chepauk in 1979 is considered one of the finest by those who witnessed it. Serious illness cut short his career.

Where has talent in Hyderabad disappeared? And when in the Ranji Trophy Hyderabad was sent packing by swinging deliveries of Deepak Chahar for a paltry 21 runs in less than 80 minutes by Rajasthan, one wondered whether dirty selection politics had affected the very base of Hyderabad cricket.

With cricketers running the association, it was expected to set things right. Sadly Hyderabad cricket is not the same. Genuine talent will suffer unless drastic measures are taken.

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