MAK Pataudi August 21, 2010

A princely state

Pataudi brought to Indian cricket a dash of hauteur and a touch of heroism
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When I was growing up in the sixties, the Nawab of Pataudi Jr was more than my favourite cricketer; he was my hero. He was the captain of India in 1963-64, when MCC toured with a second-rate team led by MJK Smith. That was the first cricket series that I actively followed with the help of running commentary on All India Radio and pictures published in Sport & Pastime. Pataudi did nothing noteworthy either as captain or player. All five Tests were drawn, and the Nawab's contribution as a batsman was one double-century and not much more.

But it didn't matter. I knew about Pataudi before I began to follow Test cricket, in the way that I knew of Dara Singh and Milkha Singh. India was a brand-new country in 1957, the year I was born, and in its enthusiasm for mascots it fashioned heroes out of some pretty eccentric material. I knew, for example, that Dara Singh was India's first world champion and that he had got there by wrestling King Kong to the ground. This was a fact; the older boys I played gully cricket with had told me. Just as they had told me that Pataudi had only one eye.

Looking back, it's hard to believe the hours we spent debating the state of Pataudi's eye. There was a colour picture of him in the souvenir album that Esso published in 1964 to mark the MCC tour. It was a spiral-bound album and each player had a page to himself, with space for a picture and a short biography on the right. You bought the album from the petrol pump and each time your parents filled up, you collected some photos and stuck them in the marked spaces. As a marketing ploy, it was brilliant: no Burmah Shell pump sold my parents a drop of petrol till I had filled in the whole album.

As a result, I knew more about Jim Parks and Phil Sharpe than anyone needed to know, but Pataudi's bio was frustrating because it didn't settle the matter of his eye. Was it a glass eye, or a normal one that didn't work? It was hard to tell from the photo. Still, it was a dashing picture, with Pataudi looking vaguely rakish, as a Nawab should. The bio let you know that he had captained Oxford and played for Sussex, which didn't hurt the image. Forty years ago these things mattered.

Pataudi was the best expert commentator I've ever heard: sharp, sardonic and rude, but I'm glad he didn't make it a living because it left my memories of him intact. I didn't have to watch him age into a professional hack

A part of his mystique was the romance of him being a Nawab, multiplied by the improbable fact that he was the son of another Nawab of Pataudi, who had also captained India. To complete the fairy tale for seven-year-old fans like me, just about two years before the MCC tour, he had become, at 21, the youngest captain in the world, when he was given the job in the West Indies after Charlie Griffith broke Nari Contractor's head. And there was more: he wasn't just the Nawab of Pataudi - he was Tiger. For us it wasn't just a name, it was an attitude. I remember him fielding in the covers against the New Zealanders at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium in Delhi, chasing balls down, well, tigerishly. I think the reason we worshipped him was that at a time when Indian Test teams ranged from mediocre to terrible, he still managed to lead them boldly, with panache and without deference. It didn't hurt that he was born and raised in privilege; ironically, the citizens of republican India were delighted to be led by a debonair prince.

So did his batting matter? Of course it did. There were the two fifties he made against Bob Simpson's Australians that helped us win the Bombay Test in the three-Test series played immediately after the MCC tour. There was the fifty and the hundred in a losing cause at Headingley in 1967. India lost every Test in that series, but listening to Test Match Special on the BBC's World Service I was content that my hero had top-scored in India's first innings and then hit a wonderful 148 out of a total of 510 to avoid a follow-on (India lost respectably, by six wickets).

Listening to John Arlott and Brian Johnston speculate about the batting heights Pataudi might have scaled with two good eyes, I forgave him all the innings when he scored nothing and hadn't seemed to care. Best of all, there were the two fifties he hit against the Australians in the Melbourne Test of 1967-68, where, literally hamstrung, he hit 75 and 85, "with one good eye and on one good leg… " (Mihir Bose, A History of Indian Cricket). We still lost by an innings, but I was used to finding individual consolation in collective failure and the thought of Pataudi, hobbled but heroic, hooking and pulling his way to gallant defeat, was enough.

I didn't actually see him play that many innings. There was his top score of 203 not out in Delhi in that dull dead rubber against Smith's MCC, and the hundred, also in Delhi, against the New Zealanders the following year, which, for once, was in a winning cause. But I can't really remember his strokeplay in the way I can for Gavaskar or Azhar or Laxman, or any batsman made familiar by live telecasts. I saw more of Pataudi after he retired and turned up on television as an expert than I did when he was a player. He was the best expert commentator I've ever heard: sharp, sardonic and rude, but I'm glad he didn't make it a living because it left my memories of him intact. I didn't have to watch him age into a professional hack. Listening at Richie Benaud on Channel Nine, it's impossible to believe he ever played cricket. Pataudi was my hero from a time before television, through a childhood where I followed cricket by hearing it described; in a golden age where I didn't have to see to believe.

Mukul Kesavan is a novelist, essayist and historian based in New Delhi. This article was first published in Wisden Asia Cricket magazine in 2004

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY SzlyAr on | August 23, 2010, 20:14 GMT

    Thanks for the piece, Mukul. It helped in knowing what actually the Tiger was to Indian Cricket. Great man, indeed!

  • POSTED BY jaanson on | August 23, 2010, 16:25 GMT

    at no stage is an attempt being made to compare pataudi and wadekar but if pataudi built the team then how come it never performed under him even in india. apart from gavaskar who made his debut in windies, wadekar had tigers team and he used them well or maybe they responded to a commoner like them very wel. what is being suggested is dont call wadekar a lucky skipper as critics have done over the years. and wadekar did not quit after the defeat in england. he retired when he was dropped even as a player from the west zone team on the return from england. quite rightly he thought that if he was not considered good enough as a player for west zone it was better to retire from all cricket. and yes tiger also retired after that defeat to lloyds team in '74/75. so was he a quitter too or is it only commoners who are so? the only point that is being made is use the same criteria to judge everybody and not different ones as per convenience and likes and dislikes.

  • POSTED BY Bobby_Talyarkhan on | August 23, 2010, 9:37 GMT

    I hope you are right @CricketPissek though I doubt it. The sentence before the one I quoted he implies that Benaud has "aged into a professional hack." Nor is it the first time that he has shamelessly pandered to populist prejudice in dishonouring the memory and legacy of a mighty Australian cricket figure.

  • POSTED BY VVedsen on | August 23, 2010, 8:42 GMT

    It is really an effort to rise to a level and acknowledge the greatness of Tiger and his contribution to Indian cricket. He was indeed peerless among Indian skippers and no better than him before he took the crown of thorns in 1962 as the Indian captain. He was the first Indian captain to show any kind of aggression on the field of play. He indeed put in the likes of Bedi, Prasanna, Chandra, the will to fight attack and take wickets. Wadekar was good in his way, though no comparison to Pat. He was good as long as the win lasted. As soon as he was challenged by his own team mates to present their cases to the board corageously he went adrift of them. I was happy to note that someone else has also put it, but to be very fair, Pat, Saurav and Dhoni have been the only captains that have shown any aggression as a captain. However very few people howmuchsoever they follow Indian cricket fail to understand. Kaps won the WC 83 but otherwise as a captain, he was found wanting.

  • POSTED BY CricketPissek on | August 22, 2010, 22:11 GMT

    @bis_d - perhaps the author meant since Richie is so well known as a commentator, it is difficult to think of him as a former player? If he did mean to insult Richie's commentary, then i must agree with you somewhat. Although I believe he's more diplomatic than honest (and has some personal discriminations/prejudices), his analysis of the game is second to none, and Mukul has no right to insult him.

  • POSTED BY AbhiPro on | August 22, 2010, 20:39 GMT

    @jaanson . . . So you want Wadekar to be put on the same pedestal as captain alongwith Tiger is it? Some issues with that imo. Wadekar inherited the team Tiger built. Tiger used to say that the Indian teams of the 60s were totally lacking in self-belief. He gave them that self-belief, which you can never measure in terms of cold statistics. Wadekar threw in the towel after that England tour of 1974. He had no stomach for defeat. A captain needs to be made of sterner stuff. Didn't he get credit for the '71 wins? He did get a lot of credit. And who led the team in '74-75 after Wadekar left? Tiger. It takes guts to do that, to put your reputation on the line when you know you can instead happily retire and go away. Thats why he was a Tiger among men.

  • POSTED BY doobya on | August 22, 2010, 12:20 GMT

    this is really sad.. that you guys censor any sorts of criticism of the article....

  • POSTED BY jaanson on | August 22, 2010, 8:05 GMT

    one thing we must respect is the opinion of others even if we dont agree with it so while respecting krishna's view that pataudi was a shrewd skipper and that he motivated his team why is the same not said about wadekar? wadekar had a tougher job trying to get players like bedi prassanna jaisimha viswanath venkat who were all known as tiger's men to rally behind him and that too in his first series overseas. how come india did not win earlier series when pataudi was captain. also if the pitches in 1964 were lifeless and so pataudi cannot be blamed for it why is the same consideration not given to gavaskar when fletchers team drew 5 matches. by all means call pataudi a great skipper but then use the same criteria to judge others too.

  • POSTED BY Azfar on | August 22, 2010, 7:56 GMT

    An excellent article by Mukul Kesavan. I am not from that generation as I started following cricket from 1982. But the way my father talks about Patuadi (with the same passion he reserves for Sobers) has convinced me that he was something special. He must have been an irresistable package...a handsome nawab, captained Oxford & Sussex, lost an eye, youngest ever test captain at 21 (come to think of it, he was the youngest member of the team he captained!!), was an attacking batsman, great fielder and a fearless leader. I think he cannot judged by stats. There are no parallels of anybody with such a disability succeeding at the highest level. In my view India has had only 3 great captains till now Pataudi, Ganguly and now Dhoni (who I beleive will eventually become the best ever in Indian history). These 3 are born leaders with a natural flair for captaincy. Even in retirement Tiger Pataudi has retained his dignity. One of the greats on the pre-TV era.

  • POSTED BY on | August 21, 2010, 23:19 GMT

    Mukul Kesavan-I wrote a lenghty piece about your article on Pataudi-on 20 August,2010 and posted it on Facebook.I dont know what happened to it.

    I had told some interesting stories there like myself meeting Pataudi,Him being stopped by UK Immigrtaion officers when he came to join Sussex,News about Pataudi on British TV when he cancelled an order for Rolls Royce for being late in delivery and ordering a Mercedes instead,Pataudi opening bowling in a Test match in England etc etc

  • POSTED BY SzlyAr on | August 23, 2010, 20:14 GMT

    Thanks for the piece, Mukul. It helped in knowing what actually the Tiger was to Indian Cricket. Great man, indeed!

  • POSTED BY jaanson on | August 23, 2010, 16:25 GMT

    at no stage is an attempt being made to compare pataudi and wadekar but if pataudi built the team then how come it never performed under him even in india. apart from gavaskar who made his debut in windies, wadekar had tigers team and he used them well or maybe they responded to a commoner like them very wel. what is being suggested is dont call wadekar a lucky skipper as critics have done over the years. and wadekar did not quit after the defeat in england. he retired when he was dropped even as a player from the west zone team on the return from england. quite rightly he thought that if he was not considered good enough as a player for west zone it was better to retire from all cricket. and yes tiger also retired after that defeat to lloyds team in '74/75. so was he a quitter too or is it only commoners who are so? the only point that is being made is use the same criteria to judge everybody and not different ones as per convenience and likes and dislikes.

  • POSTED BY Bobby_Talyarkhan on | August 23, 2010, 9:37 GMT

    I hope you are right @CricketPissek though I doubt it. The sentence before the one I quoted he implies that Benaud has "aged into a professional hack." Nor is it the first time that he has shamelessly pandered to populist prejudice in dishonouring the memory and legacy of a mighty Australian cricket figure.

  • POSTED BY VVedsen on | August 23, 2010, 8:42 GMT

    It is really an effort to rise to a level and acknowledge the greatness of Tiger and his contribution to Indian cricket. He was indeed peerless among Indian skippers and no better than him before he took the crown of thorns in 1962 as the Indian captain. He was the first Indian captain to show any kind of aggression on the field of play. He indeed put in the likes of Bedi, Prasanna, Chandra, the will to fight attack and take wickets. Wadekar was good in his way, though no comparison to Pat. He was good as long as the win lasted. As soon as he was challenged by his own team mates to present their cases to the board corageously he went adrift of them. I was happy to note that someone else has also put it, but to be very fair, Pat, Saurav and Dhoni have been the only captains that have shown any aggression as a captain. However very few people howmuchsoever they follow Indian cricket fail to understand. Kaps won the WC 83 but otherwise as a captain, he was found wanting.

  • POSTED BY CricketPissek on | August 22, 2010, 22:11 GMT

    @bis_d - perhaps the author meant since Richie is so well known as a commentator, it is difficult to think of him as a former player? If he did mean to insult Richie's commentary, then i must agree with you somewhat. Although I believe he's more diplomatic than honest (and has some personal discriminations/prejudices), his analysis of the game is second to none, and Mukul has no right to insult him.

  • POSTED BY AbhiPro on | August 22, 2010, 20:39 GMT

    @jaanson . . . So you want Wadekar to be put on the same pedestal as captain alongwith Tiger is it? Some issues with that imo. Wadekar inherited the team Tiger built. Tiger used to say that the Indian teams of the 60s were totally lacking in self-belief. He gave them that self-belief, which you can never measure in terms of cold statistics. Wadekar threw in the towel after that England tour of 1974. He had no stomach for defeat. A captain needs to be made of sterner stuff. Didn't he get credit for the '71 wins? He did get a lot of credit. And who led the team in '74-75 after Wadekar left? Tiger. It takes guts to do that, to put your reputation on the line when you know you can instead happily retire and go away. Thats why he was a Tiger among men.

  • POSTED BY doobya on | August 22, 2010, 12:20 GMT

    this is really sad.. that you guys censor any sorts of criticism of the article....

  • POSTED BY jaanson on | August 22, 2010, 8:05 GMT

    one thing we must respect is the opinion of others even if we dont agree with it so while respecting krishna's view that pataudi was a shrewd skipper and that he motivated his team why is the same not said about wadekar? wadekar had a tougher job trying to get players like bedi prassanna jaisimha viswanath venkat who were all known as tiger's men to rally behind him and that too in his first series overseas. how come india did not win earlier series when pataudi was captain. also if the pitches in 1964 were lifeless and so pataudi cannot be blamed for it why is the same consideration not given to gavaskar when fletchers team drew 5 matches. by all means call pataudi a great skipper but then use the same criteria to judge others too.

  • POSTED BY Azfar on | August 22, 2010, 7:56 GMT

    An excellent article by Mukul Kesavan. I am not from that generation as I started following cricket from 1982. But the way my father talks about Patuadi (with the same passion he reserves for Sobers) has convinced me that he was something special. He must have been an irresistable package...a handsome nawab, captained Oxford & Sussex, lost an eye, youngest ever test captain at 21 (come to think of it, he was the youngest member of the team he captained!!), was an attacking batsman, great fielder and a fearless leader. I think he cannot judged by stats. There are no parallels of anybody with such a disability succeeding at the highest level. In my view India has had only 3 great captains till now Pataudi, Ganguly and now Dhoni (who I beleive will eventually become the best ever in Indian history). These 3 are born leaders with a natural flair for captaincy. Even in retirement Tiger Pataudi has retained his dignity. One of the greats on the pre-TV era.

  • POSTED BY on | August 21, 2010, 23:19 GMT

    Mukul Kesavan-I wrote a lenghty piece about your article on Pataudi-on 20 August,2010 and posted it on Facebook.I dont know what happened to it.

    I had told some interesting stories there like myself meeting Pataudi,Him being stopped by UK Immigrtaion officers when he came to join Sussex,News about Pataudi on British TV when he cancelled an order for Rolls Royce for being late in delivery and ordering a Mercedes instead,Pataudi opening bowling in a Test match in England etc etc

  • POSTED BY whymaru on | August 21, 2010, 22:48 GMT

    Mukul Kesavan has taken us in the past. Excellent writing. Two comments about Pataudi, one that he had false right eye and he had said in the interview (on AIR) that he sees two balls and plays the inner ball. Second, during the interview (on AIR) after the MCC tour (all five tests drawn) Pataudi said that he was expecting a cricket team from England, not a foot ball team (England players were using their pads more than their bats to Indian spinners). An example of crisp and arrogant comment.

  • POSTED BY AbhiPro on | August 21, 2010, 21:50 GMT

    @tksami . . . It is not a myth dude. What are you getting at? It was not for nothing that he was called Tiger.

    I was born a year before India won the World Cup in '83. I haven't even seen Sunil Gavaskar bat live on TV. My first cricket memories are of Sachin clobbering Abdul Qadir for those consecutive sixes. However, I have read a lot about Tiger and the one thing that emerges from all readings is the presence and aura that this man had, both on the field and off the field. It is said Ganguly got the Indian team to believe they could win abroad, then I am sure it is rightly said that Tiger taught them how to win, in the first place. Whoever compares Wadekar to Tiger does not have any grasp of the two personalities. Tiger was a 'born' leader, yes, partly due to his upbringing. Its said he got the South Zone players to rally around him which is quite remarkable given the cultural and language barrier, which must have been even more pronounced during those days. Thanks Mukul!

  • POSTED BY Bobby_Talyarkhan on | August 21, 2010, 18:35 GMT

    "Listening at Richie Benaud on Channel Nine, it's impossible to believe he ever played cricket." What a perverse remark! Richie Benaud is the greatest television cricket commentator ever - primarily because he exercised discrimination over when to say something and when not to - a faculty Mr Kesavan is sadly lacking.

  • POSTED BY Krishna2007 on | August 21, 2010, 18:12 GMT

    Some correction @Majr. In the first test played by Pataudi in Delhi, he scored 13, then hit 67 in Calcutta followed by 103 in Madras. That Calcutta Test was the first Test Match I saw but only on the last day.

    @Srinivas Bhogle, Nadkarni's maiden over spell was in Madras, 32overs, 27 maidens 5 runs and no wicket! @Jaanson, Pataudi was very shrewd and one of the best Indian captains because he motivated his men like no other captain did. He managed to win two tests against the Windies when we were two down against Lloyd's team. As regards the drawn tests against Mike Smith's team, blame it on the pitches that were so dead they would make dodos seem to be throbbing with life.

  • POSTED BY US_Indian on | August 21, 2010, 18:04 GMT

    A Nice article. I remember in those days whenever anyone started playing cricket they were told, do you want to become Pataudi the same way as they say now do u want to become SACHIN. One aspect you never mentioned is he was a brilliant fielder and his back hand throws from the boundary which came on to stumps like a rocket, fast and accurate, which was copied and mastered to perfection by Azhar, and the change he brought in the attitude towards feilding which led to the emergence of Abid Ali, Solkar and Vekat. But he only worked well within a group (Jaisimha, Abbas Ali Baig, Wadekar) and ignored some really good cricketers(Durrani, Abid Ali) and under utilized them to larger extent and was kinda responsible for them not attaining the potential they had and denied India with their full services. He was dashing and handsome even nowadays at this age, I wuld say Sharmila didnt fell for him just like that he had in him the Charisma and Aura of royal blooded Nawab...

  • POSTED BY Krishna2007 on | August 21, 2010, 17:59 GMT

    Wow, one feels frightfully old when I think back that the first Test match I ever saw was the 4th between India and England at Eden Gardens at age 9 in 1961. Pat played of course but the day I saw it was the last and I only saw our bowlers skittle out England to win the match. The one memory I have of Pataudi was the Test in 1964 against Simpson's men at Madras. His batting was classy and he hit a century in the first innings but was out cheaply in the second. Predictably, India lost the Test despite a knock of 94 by another prince, Hanumant Singh. Pat was all class and he was the first Captain above parochialism. The only person who came close to him in respect of nonchalance and being above parochialism was the Prince of Kolkata. Pat and Saurav were similar in that they made the team believe in themselves. Pat chose to go when he saw that he could not make the cut in Tests as he was unable to face the Windies quicks with the ease he would do earlier. He really was 'The Noob'.

  • POSTED BY on | August 21, 2010, 17:54 GMT

    no doubt it is a wonderful article, but i fail to understand what does the author intend to say when he wrote......... ``in its enthusiasm for mascots it fashioned heroes out of some pretty eccentric material``........ what is this. is he trying to undermine the achievments of Milkha Singh and Dara Singh as petty achievments and they are remembered just because we were desperate for sports heroes when we were a ``young country``.... et me tell u MR, there have been very few personalities who could match the heights achieved by Milkha singh and Dara Singh in their respective sports. Just to add a bit of spice and to showcase your eccentric writing skills please do not question the achievments of legends. and i would like to see what my other countrymen think about this. plz comment on this friends.

  • POSTED BY tksami on | August 21, 2010, 16:35 GMT

    With one eye you cannot have correct depth perception so it is impossible to play cricket at test level or any level. I wonder if this is a figment of someone's imagination or just a myth.

  • POSTED BY KVasavada on | August 21, 2010, 15:21 GMT

    Thanks Mukul for taking me down the memory lane.I was among a big crowd ( not really ) watching an ordinary club match at Bombay Gym ground where Tiger Pataudi was one of the umpires.Also at the same venue I watched a hockey match and yes,one of the players was Tiger.BTW,even if he had a natural eye,he could never have a binocular vision ( to get depth perception - stereopsis ) because of large amount of divergent squint of -I think-right eye.

  • POSTED BY Srini_M on | August 21, 2010, 12:37 GMT

    No question that Pataudi would probably have been a far better batsman had he had full vision in both eyes. As someone with a wife that has only one eye, I know from personal experience how tough it is to do even day-to-day things at home, leave alone play world class pace, swing and spin bowlers. That Pataudi did it and scored centuries is incredible. As for his captaincy, one of the things we should not miss is the number of players who got a chance because Tiger got them into the team as he believed their caliber. Players like Bedi - funnily enough, called on to bowl his first ball in Tests at the stroke of noon - , Vishwanath - one of our most adored cricketers, and a few others. India were not world class as a team but, in many ways, they were a tough team to beat in India. That experience helped when the 1970-71 teams led by Wadekar, managed to win those two series. Without a doubt, Wadekar was in the slipstream of Pataudi's achievements to have won those Tests.

  • POSTED BY Venkatb on | August 21, 2010, 12:21 GMT

    BTW the photograph of Pataudi on the balcony - looks like Brighton and a hotel I am familiar with!

  • POSTED BY Venkatb on | August 21, 2010, 12:16 GMT

    Mukul: As a contemporary, I still have (or I hope it is still in our house in India) the same Burmah Shell album you are referring to. Yes, Pataudi was my hero too where the legend loomed larger than reality, and that was the period when India lacked sports heroes - my father about Dhyan Chand and CK Nayudu but Pat it was for our generation! I did see Test matches at Brabourne stadium and at Eden Gardens (my father was in a transferable job) but it was in Chepauk in 72-73 that we saw the return of Pataudi in all majesty, hitting 73. We thought he had hit his fourth six of the innings but was caught on the long-on boundary off Pocock.

    A couple of years later, I drew a near professional potrait of him and showed it to him during a South Zone-West Indies match at Hyderabad - he admired it, signed it and remarked that even the eyes looked very natural! Along with the Burmah Shell album, this autographed drawing is another pice of memorablia I have to dig up on my next India visit!

  • POSTED BY AdityaMookerjee on | August 21, 2010, 11:53 GMT

    I must say, that I admire Ritchie Benaud, and Mr Pataudi, equally, albeit for different reasons. I cannot concur with Mukul. Mr Benaud can give an impression of being nothing, other than being in possession of the Baggy Green, sometime in his long career as a human being. I can imagine the way Mr Pataudi might have batted. His skill in batting perhaps, flowered, because of his attitude. His attitude to life, made the road for him as a batsman. In the case of Mr Benaud, his cricket was his identity as a member of the Baggy Green club. Mr Pataudi was not a professional cricketer, and perhaps, Mr Benaud, had another occupation, apart from being a cricketer, in his playing days. Or perhaps, he did not need to make a profession outside cricket.

  • POSTED BY Ellis on | August 21, 2010, 11:42 GMT

    I saw the Nawab when he played for Oxford and Sussex. To my mind, there have been few better Indian batsmen. His timing was superb, his style elegant. He was a great attraction at Oxford. A potentially great career cut short by an accident.

  • POSTED BY Percy_Fender on | August 21, 2010, 10:40 GMT

    Those that were not keen followers of the game at that point of time will never know that his following had nothing to do with his aristocratic credentials or his Oxford stint. His legion of followers was because Pataudi was himself a great player even with just one eye who was fit and had an inspiring personality on the field.He was not the journeyman who had been made Captain because the Chairman of the selectors favoured him.Wadekar it was who won the Captaincy stakes through Vijay Merchant's allegiances. Wadekar won in West indies and England in 71 and was seen to be a great change from Pataudi.Which is why his eclipse was precipitous in 1974 when we lost in England. We were also shot out for 42 in that series. Pataudi was brought back firstly as a player and then as Captain. As a commentator, he had an excellent command of English and was witty when wit was called for.He was knowledgeable and had the vision in his expert comments. Perhaps Prasanna and Bedi should comment here.

  • POSTED BY Punter_28 on | August 21, 2010, 10:18 GMT

    Pataudi's Career average never tells the story of his class and calibre. He was a majestic bat and the fact that he batted late down the order was to add solidity to the brittle India middle order especially against the pace. He performed in England, Australia and NZ He was the one who built the team but the fruits were enjoyed by Wadekarn 1971 where he was stripped off his captaincy for deciding to contest against the migty Indira. VijayMercant ashe Charman of Selectors casted hs vote against him at th behest of Indira. In those of less than mediocre India fielding standards , he was a class apart at the cover point and he pushed the fielding standards. It was indeed a pity that he was handicapped with one eye and yet proved his credentials.

  • POSTED BY SridharKalyan on | August 21, 2010, 10:16 GMT

    Excellent article by Mukul Kesavan - made even better by the comments from the likes of Majr and others. Just transported me into a 'lost world', when cricket was played with a passion.

  • POSTED BY on | August 21, 2010, 10:13 GMT

    Without any doubt, the best Indian test captain.

  • POSTED BY jaanson on | August 21, 2010, 7:54 GMT

    he must have been an incredible player to play with zero vision in one eye but his captaincy has been over rated and fuelled by indias deference to royalty. any other skipper having a total drawn series as that england series in 1964 and that too against a second rate england team would have been crucified as a defensive skipper. but maybe because he hit the ball in the air over the infield he was thought as being an attacking captain.ajit wadekar never gets the credit for winning two overseas series and is dismissed by pataudi acolytes as a lucky skipper but then he was not royalty was he?

  • POSTED BY Percy_Fender on | August 21, 2010, 7:50 GMT

    Patudi batted at No 4 in his first Test. After that he played at 5 mostly. In fact at Chepauk against Sobers' West Indians in 67, a match which I saw as well, Tiger batted at 5 after Borde. That was the match in which Engineer as an opener, made almost 100 before lunch on the first day. I think he batted lower when his eyesight was affecting his game as he himself said after he captained India in 1974 against West Indies. India was trailing 0-2 when he was brought in for the Calcutta Test. He won that and the one at Madras as well to bring the series to 2-2. We lost the last one in Bombay.Those were the days when we saw Greenidge, and the great Viv Richards make their debuts for West Indies. Their bowling had Roberts Julien and Gibbs. That we managed to beat them and come back had much to do with Pataudi's captaincy and Vishwanath, Prasanna and Bedi. Tiger was a great Captain. He was the first one who brought in self belief in the India players. People unused to his days will not know.

  • POSTED BY SrinivasBhogle on | August 21, 2010, 7:29 GMT

    This was also the first series I followed. Kunderan's 192 at Madras, Nadkarni's maiden over bowling spell at Kanpur, Ken Barrington flying kites while fielding and then leaving half-way to be replaced by Colin Cowdrey ... who went on to head the series batting averages, curiously enough with Bapu Nadkarni!

    And if Phil Sharpe and Jim Parks were names that were forgotten soon thereafter, what about Brian Bolus, John Mortimore, a second wicket-keeper called Jimmy Binks and someone called David Larter who caught Jaisimha after his century at Eden Gardens ... yes the same innings in which his bat went flying up in the sky (that photo appeared in Sport & Pastime).

    Two more factors contributed to the Tiger's allure: The fact that he was India captain, but willingly played under Jaisimha for Hyderabad (where he moved after fighting Delhi cricket bosses), and that he married the lovely Sharmila Tagore.

  • POSTED BY Percy_Fender on | August 21, 2010, 7:18 GMT

    In continuation, I would like to mention that in those days India were of little relevance in cricket. So we enjoyed it when we beat someone at home. Ted Dexter had brought his MCC team as it was called in those days. Tiger Patudi as he came to be called later had a major presence. Something which only M L Jaisimha had in our team then.Tiger used had a distinctive gait in which the hands did not move too much forward or back. Brijesh Patel had a similar walk much later. When Tiger batted he had an open stance. Something similar to Asif Iqbal Rizvi as he was known then who played for Hyderabad. Later he migrated to Pakistan and played with distinction as the famous Asif Iqbal.What struck me about Tiger that very often when he hi the ball one could'nt hear the sound. It was truly about timing. I remember his taking over as India captain not much later in West Indies against the likes of Hall and Griffith. It was a monumental tragedy that he lost an eye when he was so near greatness.

  • POSTED BY Percy_Fender on | August 21, 2010, 7:04 GMT

    Having been born 12 years before Mukul Kesavan, I was fortunate to have followed Nawab of Pataudi's career not just at the Test level but even before when he was at Oxford University. Abbas Ali Baig had already been drafted in to play for India against England at Old Trafford. A match in which he scored adebut hundered. So when I heard of the Nawab I had expected that he too would be a big player. I remember him having scored majestic 100s for a team called the Free Foresters. One was against Yorkshire and the other against Lancashire. Fred Trueman played for the former and Brian Statham for Lancashire. Together they played for England at the same time. I was waiting for Tiger to join Inda, when he had this accident in which he lost one eye. It was a major loss. So when he got to playing again, everyone waited. He made his debut against England in Delhi and made 60 odd. Then in the next Test in Madras, he scored his first 100. A majestic 103. I saw that one.

  • POSTED BY Dr.Dhami on | August 21, 2010, 6:54 GMT

    Lovely article Mukul. The quality of this article (along with Sambit Bal's) makes it as good as it gets on cricinfo. I have felt similarly about Pataudi but wish I had articulated it as well too. Asides from his batting abilities, which seem considerable, I suppose it is the leadership role that he provided in the 1960's, and a masterclass in fighting back, even when handicapped (and not just in the eye), that set him apart. In some sense he was the Sourav Ganguly of his days, but more sophisticated and sauve. I too love his commentary. He says as he sees it with more guts than many, just as he captained and played for India.

  • POSTED BY MasterClass on | August 21, 2010, 6:44 GMT

    We all need our heros. And most of them are slightly fictionaized anyway. So why fault him and ourselves! I was very young when he was finishing up, but he was still "Tiger" Pautadi to me! And it was a golden age for sure! If not for the team then certainly for the aura of test cricket, and probably the reason why I adore the long format!

  • POSTED BY on | August 21, 2010, 4:19 GMT

    One thing puzzles me is why he batted so low down the order. The links of the matches you have given. In most of the matches he has batted at 6 or 7. For a front-line batsman it is not the place to bat. If your batting is very strong then its natural that one have to bat at 6 but not 7. But See Wadekar and Hanumant Singh batted above him in the lineup. What do they achieve one test century through out their career. One more additions to my list of Great mysteries of India cricket.

  • POSTED BY thenkabail on | August 21, 2010, 3:42 GMT

    Aristocracy is a thing od past: Pataudi belonged to an aristocracy. I found him boring (his radio commentry was dull and lifeless compared to someone's like Merchant). He was a okay player, lionised because India had few players of quality in his era. I thought, he was also a okay captain. But I do have great sympathy about him losing one eye, so young. Maybe with 2 eyes he would have been a class batsmen.

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  • POSTED BY thenkabail on | August 21, 2010, 3:42 GMT

    Aristocracy is a thing od past: Pataudi belonged to an aristocracy. I found him boring (his radio commentry was dull and lifeless compared to someone's like Merchant). He was a okay player, lionised because India had few players of quality in his era. I thought, he was also a okay captain. But I do have great sympathy about him losing one eye, so young. Maybe with 2 eyes he would have been a class batsmen.

  • POSTED BY on | August 21, 2010, 4:19 GMT

    One thing puzzles me is why he batted so low down the order. The links of the matches you have given. In most of the matches he has batted at 6 or 7. For a front-line batsman it is not the place to bat. If your batting is very strong then its natural that one have to bat at 6 but not 7. But See Wadekar and Hanumant Singh batted above him in the lineup. What do they achieve one test century through out their career. One more additions to my list of Great mysteries of India cricket.

  • POSTED BY MasterClass on | August 21, 2010, 6:44 GMT

    We all need our heros. And most of them are slightly fictionaized anyway. So why fault him and ourselves! I was very young when he was finishing up, but he was still "Tiger" Pautadi to me! And it was a golden age for sure! If not for the team then certainly for the aura of test cricket, and probably the reason why I adore the long format!

  • POSTED BY Dr.Dhami on | August 21, 2010, 6:54 GMT

    Lovely article Mukul. The quality of this article (along with Sambit Bal's) makes it as good as it gets on cricinfo. I have felt similarly about Pataudi but wish I had articulated it as well too. Asides from his batting abilities, which seem considerable, I suppose it is the leadership role that he provided in the 1960's, and a masterclass in fighting back, even when handicapped (and not just in the eye), that set him apart. In some sense he was the Sourav Ganguly of his days, but more sophisticated and sauve. I too love his commentary. He says as he sees it with more guts than many, just as he captained and played for India.

  • POSTED BY Percy_Fender on | August 21, 2010, 7:04 GMT

    Having been born 12 years before Mukul Kesavan, I was fortunate to have followed Nawab of Pataudi's career not just at the Test level but even before when he was at Oxford University. Abbas Ali Baig had already been drafted in to play for India against England at Old Trafford. A match in which he scored adebut hundered. So when I heard of the Nawab I had expected that he too would be a big player. I remember him having scored majestic 100s for a team called the Free Foresters. One was against Yorkshire and the other against Lancashire. Fred Trueman played for the former and Brian Statham for Lancashire. Together they played for England at the same time. I was waiting for Tiger to join Inda, when he had this accident in which he lost one eye. It was a major loss. So when he got to playing again, everyone waited. He made his debut against England in Delhi and made 60 odd. Then in the next Test in Madras, he scored his first 100. A majestic 103. I saw that one.

  • POSTED BY Percy_Fender on | August 21, 2010, 7:18 GMT

    In continuation, I would like to mention that in those days India were of little relevance in cricket. So we enjoyed it when we beat someone at home. Ted Dexter had brought his MCC team as it was called in those days. Tiger Patudi as he came to be called later had a major presence. Something which only M L Jaisimha had in our team then.Tiger used had a distinctive gait in which the hands did not move too much forward or back. Brijesh Patel had a similar walk much later. When Tiger batted he had an open stance. Something similar to Asif Iqbal Rizvi as he was known then who played for Hyderabad. Later he migrated to Pakistan and played with distinction as the famous Asif Iqbal.What struck me about Tiger that very often when he hi the ball one could'nt hear the sound. It was truly about timing. I remember his taking over as India captain not much later in West Indies against the likes of Hall and Griffith. It was a monumental tragedy that he lost an eye when he was so near greatness.

  • POSTED BY SrinivasBhogle on | August 21, 2010, 7:29 GMT

    This was also the first series I followed. Kunderan's 192 at Madras, Nadkarni's maiden over bowling spell at Kanpur, Ken Barrington flying kites while fielding and then leaving half-way to be replaced by Colin Cowdrey ... who went on to head the series batting averages, curiously enough with Bapu Nadkarni!

    And if Phil Sharpe and Jim Parks were names that were forgotten soon thereafter, what about Brian Bolus, John Mortimore, a second wicket-keeper called Jimmy Binks and someone called David Larter who caught Jaisimha after his century at Eden Gardens ... yes the same innings in which his bat went flying up in the sky (that photo appeared in Sport & Pastime).

    Two more factors contributed to the Tiger's allure: The fact that he was India captain, but willingly played under Jaisimha for Hyderabad (where he moved after fighting Delhi cricket bosses), and that he married the lovely Sharmila Tagore.

  • POSTED BY Percy_Fender on | August 21, 2010, 7:50 GMT

    Patudi batted at No 4 in his first Test. After that he played at 5 mostly. In fact at Chepauk against Sobers' West Indians in 67, a match which I saw as well, Tiger batted at 5 after Borde. That was the match in which Engineer as an opener, made almost 100 before lunch on the first day. I think he batted lower when his eyesight was affecting his game as he himself said after he captained India in 1974 against West Indies. India was trailing 0-2 when he was brought in for the Calcutta Test. He won that and the one at Madras as well to bring the series to 2-2. We lost the last one in Bombay.Those were the days when we saw Greenidge, and the great Viv Richards make their debuts for West Indies. Their bowling had Roberts Julien and Gibbs. That we managed to beat them and come back had much to do with Pataudi's captaincy and Vishwanath, Prasanna and Bedi. Tiger was a great Captain. He was the first one who brought in self belief in the India players. People unused to his days will not know.

  • POSTED BY jaanson on | August 21, 2010, 7:54 GMT

    he must have been an incredible player to play with zero vision in one eye but his captaincy has been over rated and fuelled by indias deference to royalty. any other skipper having a total drawn series as that england series in 1964 and that too against a second rate england team would have been crucified as a defensive skipper. but maybe because he hit the ball in the air over the infield he was thought as being an attacking captain.ajit wadekar never gets the credit for winning two overseas series and is dismissed by pataudi acolytes as a lucky skipper but then he was not royalty was he?

  • POSTED BY on | August 21, 2010, 10:13 GMT

    Without any doubt, the best Indian test captain.