Dilip Doshi

'Spin bowling is a battle of wits'

One of India's oldest Test debutants on spin, playing county cricket before turning out for his country, and his best bowling effort


"You can only go on as long as you have control over the ball" Cricinfo Ltd
 

Tossing and flighting are a world apart - the soundest piece of advice I got as a spinner.

Cricket played a major role in the making of whatever I am. It helps you build character, fight with resilience, build team spirit, accept the rough and smooth. It is a wise game.

I always wanted to play for India. I wanted to jump the fence at Eden Gardens and go and bowl.

Murali of two years back would be my all-time favourite spin bowler that I have seen. It is because of him that Sri Lanka is the cricketing force it is today. My favourite spin bowler that I didn't watch is Clarrie Grimmett. As for Indians, Erapalli Prasanna was one I always enjoyed watching; he was extremely crafty and could spin the ball anywhere.

As a 11-year-old I saw my first Test in Calcutta. What I remember was Garry Sobers' distinctive walk to the wicket and back. It left an impression of a great athlete.

The idea of getting my brother Narayan out when we played was to get the better of him always. You don't consciously think like that - you just want to get him out. But that's competitive spirit.

My best bowling, though it doesn't show in the figures, was in the Melbourne Test in 1981, where I took five wickets. I had a fractured toe but I decided to play. Every evening I had to have electrodes clipped to my foot; they gave painful shocks but kept the swelling down. The next morning I would put the foot in a bucket of ice so I could get it into the boot. Very few understood why I did all that. I did it because I believed we were going to win and I had a part to play.

Spin bowling is a battle of wits.

It is nice to know that I am one of the few Indians to have made his Test debut after turning 30. What was important was that I was able to play at the level I had always dreamt of and help India win a few games, which was really satisfying. It was worth waiting for.

Once Nottinghamshire, who I was playing for, asked Garry Sobers to take a look at me. I bowled well and got seven wickets in the game. On my way out I saw him, in dark glasses, standing by his silver Jaguar. He came up to me, shook my hand and said, "Well done, son, you're all right." He made me feel at ease. A lot of true champions are like him: simple human beings, down to earth and gifted. I always thought of Sobers as the ultimate cricketer any player would want to be - apart from Sir Donald Bradman.

Sunil Gavaskar was a master batsman; there are not many like him. But we didn't see eye to eye on many occasions, and he was my captain. A bowler can be as good as his captain wants him to be or can make him out to be.

Unless I believe in something, I won't do it.

I've known Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones from 1976. He is a very, very knowledgeable cricket lover. And not many know that can be said of Charlie Watts too. It is a friendship that has evolved.

Values are absolutely vital in the development of your character, in building up your confidence and self-belief. Values mean discipline.

My career came to a sudden halt during the Pakistan series of 1982-83. I found that there was more than one force against me.

When you write your autobiography you've got be honest about what happened. It is not an opinion. It took me exactly four weeks to write mine - I did it in one stretch because you've got to be in the same mood to write it. People who are playing the game should not write about it. Can you put down your thoughts honestly? No, you can't.

Salim Durani was the most wasted genius cricketer that I've ever seen in India. The weakness of Indian cricket then was that it failed to recognise Salimbhai's true genius - and I don't use that word very often.

It is very difficult for me to say what people should remember me as. You cannot even imagine what others perceive you as.

You can only go on as long you have control over the ball. In Grimmett's words, 'You've got to work hard enough so that your fingers obey your command.'

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo. This interview was first published in the print version of Cricinfo Magazine in 2006