June 22, 2000

Pankaj Roy's memories of Statham

Pankaj Roy, the former Indian opener and selector took a trip down memory lane on Wednesday while talking about the great English fast bowler Brian Statham. Roy, who has recently been embroiled in a controversy regarding his wine shop at Salt Lake felt that the issue was being unnecessarily blown up by the media. "There are far more important things to talk about than my shop," he said.

But today Roy took some time off to speak about Statham, who was a good friend of his. "When he toured India with Nigel Howard's team in 1951-52, he got me out at the Brabourne stadium. "It was the last ball of the first day of the second Test," recalled Roy. "I was caught at deep square leg trying to hook a bouncer from Statham. However, that time, he was just another budding cricketer. The next time that I played against him was in the Test series in 1959. By that time he was one of the most respected bowlers." Roy fell to him three times in six innings he faced Statham in that series, including twice in the final Test at the Oval.

Roy said that it was because of the unflagging accuracy of Statham that his bowling partner Fred Trueman, managed to get more than 300 wickets in Test cricket. "He was so accurate, that he rarely gave you a ball to hit," said the bespectacled opener. The former Indian opener, who still holds the record for the highest opening partnership with the late Vinoo Mankad, also stated that Statham was a real gentleman. "He did not have the same aggressive streak like Trueman. He lacked the fiery temper that guys like Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith possessed."

Coming to the recent controversy surrounding Mohammed Azharuddin and his comment based on `minorities', Roy felt that it was uncalled for. "However, in today's paper he has apologized for his outburst. I think we should allow the matter to rest there and proceed with the investigation. The game needs a total clean up and we should not let small matters like this bother us," Roy said. Roy, who is the sheriff of Calcutta also stated, "Unless something is done to erase the doubts that has crept into the mind of the paying spectator, cricket will die in this country. I read in the newspapers that television viewership of cricket has already gone down. So it is our duty to find out the reason for which such a thing has occurred."