Narendra Hirwani November 7, 2008

A flipper for Viv

Benaud's advice, Richards' wicket and more

Hirwani during his second Test, against New Zealand in Bangalore, 1988 © Getty Images

First time I took a wicket off a first ball
Lalchand Rajput was the first batsman I got on the first ball of a spell, in a Ranji game. It was a googly which Rajput left.

First good piece of cricketing advice
Sunil Gavaskar took me to meet Richie Benaud once in 1992. Benaud observed that my head was dropping, because of which my wrist position was changing, and as a result the ball was skidding instead of spinning. When I got back home I worked on that for the next eight-odd months before I started taking wickets properly again.

First time I worked a batsman out
Ravi Shastri, my captain in my debut Test, suggested I focus on the legbreak and googly and not try too many variations. I took his advice and got three wickets, but I knew I could have got Viv Richards, who was unbeaten at stumps on day two, with a flipper. I told Chetan Sharma, my room-mate, "uska danda maroonga" (I'll get Richards bowled). And that's exactly what happened the next morning. The day before, I had observed Richards going on the back foot and taking singles easily off my leggies - since the speed of the ball is less when it spins. But with a flipper the batsman doesn't have as much time; and Richards was deceived.

First selection for India
I was in Indore. Sanjay Jagdale, my guru, read about it in the Times of India and came running up to me to give me the good news. I couldn't believe it.

First day after retiring from the game
A couple of months before I retired, every evening on the way back home I would cry. The first day after retirement I took a deep breath and tried to relax. After 23 years, I had to ask myself: is there anything else after cricket?

As told to Nagraj Gollapudi