'My only wish is to give one cricketer to India' - Patil
Today Sandeep Patil turns 50. Dasher in both life and on the field, Patil never smirked at any challenge that lay across his path. Instead he carried his luck as far as he could. To celebrate one of Indian cricket's favourite sons, Cricinfo decided to chat with the man about the personal glories, team triumphs, mistakes committed, unfulfilled dreams and much more in this exclusive.
Do you feel that you are fifty years old today?
You've to accept to fact that I am 50 now - 50 down and 50 to go.
A single achievement you would like to single out so far?
Getting a chance to play for India, scoring my first Test hundred, winning the World Cup in 1983 are just some of the drops in the ocean. On the personal front, it is my marriage to my second wife Deepa. It's been the high point of my life.
Are you happy with what you achieved?
I think I wasted the talent which I had. I let down so many people and that is why I'm in a better position today, as a coach, to understand and explain the problems to youngsters what I went through and the mistakes I made.
Are you still the dasher that you were renowned to be?
No, I am out of all that. I've become opposite now: from a party animal I've become hardly social anymore.
But you enjoyed being what you were in your heyday. What did that give
It gives you the kick. When you are young you've that josh (passion) whereas now the josh has gone and I've come back to my hosh (senses).
How did it feel playing at the highest level?
I was absolutely fortunate, first, that I was picked to play for Bombay at a time when there were stalwarts like Sudhir Naik, Sunil Gavaskar, Ashok Mankad, Eknath Solkar, Karsan Ghavri, Ramnath Parkar. To play alongside all these guys I must've had great luck. Then, of course, I was lucky to play for the country as there are so many thousands who've talent, but to be picked out of those thousands, I was damn lucky.
Do you carry the same feeling in your heart and mind that was there
when you entered the field for the first time?
Yes, today also, as a coach, there are butterflies in my stomach which was the same when I entered the ground for the first time as a player. You can never take it easy. You cannot be a winner in cricket - you have to try hard; You have to get up and start fresh as every day is a new day.
|I feel so sad for today's generation. I don't know in reality whether today's cricketers are really enjoying cricket in the true sense|
So, how did it feeling watching the game at the highest level?
Actually, bit boring.
And how does it feel being a cricket pundit now on television?
I am really enjoying giving my expert comments on TV, but I'm surprised that people have accepted me, and more than me, my Hindi.
What has cricket taught you?
Discipline and the sense of time.
What's the best compliment anyone paid you?
Sunil Gavaskar once commented that he would like to exchange his technique to my strokes. And it was nice to captain him at Nirlon and Sachin Tendulkar at CCI and Sungrace Mafatlal.
Did you feel lonely without the bat in hand?
We've to accept the fact that one day you have to take the backseat. I never had a goal in cricket as such. Even afterwards I didn't make use of the many opportunities that came my way. I was in business; I was editor of a Marathi fortnightly; I cut a disc; I did a movie; I moved to commentating and then coaching. So there was nothing like one goal in my life. I just took things as they came in my way. And, probably, I did not do justice. Personally I feel you should've one goal and not ten.
How did you handle fame in your playing days?
I don't know. I must've handled it well as I have so many friends now.
Did you allow it to get to your head?
If you are human then it'll be wrong on anybody's part to say that it never got to my head. Yes, I was a show off. But today I realised how stupid I was, how wrong I was. Now the time has gone and by the time you've realised time has gone and it is all over.
You seemed to take cricket just like a game, nothing more. Would you
advice the youngsters to lighten up a bit?
I feel so sad for today's generation. It is wrong for me to comment because today's youth is different. I don't know in reality whether today's cricketers are really enjoying cricket in the true sense. I'm so happy that they are getting so much of money, endorsements and fame, but I don't know if they are enjoying the real fun of playing this game.
You seem to enjoy training underdogs and bringing them to the
centrestage. Is it the right kind of inspiration you were looking at after
your playing days?
I love taking a challenge. For example, I've been coaching Oman, who were ranked 79 in the world rankings are now come up to 21 today. It is a different challenge between coaching a player who is established and coaching a player who is trying to establish himself. And I enjoy accepting this challenge as these players are willing to listen to me.
People single out the 1983 World Cup victory as single biggest turning
point of Indian cricket. Would you agree?
For me the 1971 Test series victories in the West Indies and England by Ajit Wadekar's team was the beginning. After 1983 World Cup triumph we started believing in ourselves, but according to me that had already started after 1971.
A dream yet to be realised?
I wish I can give one cricketer to India.
Nagraj Gollapudi is Assistant Editor of Cricinfo Magazine