The stamp collector
Ranjib Biswal, the current Indian team manager, has had a long involvement with cricket. He played his first representative match as a 12-year-old in 1982 for an Orissa age-group team, worked his way up to the national Under-19 team and had a nearly decade-long Ranji Trophy career as an allrounder ending in 1996-97 with respectable first-class averages of 40 with the bat and about 24 with the ball. Since then he has dabbled in politics, but has stayed in touch with the game as an administrator, besides serving as national selector and team manager.
Around the same time that he took up cricket, he picked up a hobby which he still maintains a keen interest in – philately. Over the years, his stamp collection has expanded to a huge 3.5 lakhs. "It's organised country-wise in albums, which take up a huge space at home; nearly an entire cupboard," Biswal says.
He says he has 4000 cricket stamps, with the legends of the game finding pride of place. “I've got Bradman, Frank Worrell, Garry Sobers …” he says. “[In] India we don't have stamps on the cricketers, basically the stamps are from England, West Indies, Australia, who come out with commemorative stamps.”
Whenever he’s travelling, he’s on the lookout for stamp shops. “In India, I collect those first-day covers; it’s just a passion and I also ask my friends to send across stamps from abroad.” When in the West Indies managing the Indian team during the recent World Twenty20, his request for some stamps from a friend was overheard by a journalist, who promptly procured 25 of them and gave them to Biswal. “So I get it from my friends in the press also, that’s a small bribe they give me,” he laughs.
Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo