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Once Upon an Anecdote

'Boycs was big but I was lager'

A pint to get Geoffrey out? You're on

Eknath Solkar bowls against Somerset, Somerset v Indians, 3rd day, Taunton, May 3, 1974

Eknath Solkar became Geoffrey Boycott's nemesis in the summer of '74  •  Getty Images

Geoffrey Boycott never rated me highly as a cricketer. On the England tour of 1974 we were playing Yorkshire at Bradford in what was a routine warm-up match for us and a selection trial for them. I was just about to begin my spell when Ashok Mankad came up to me and said: "This is my Bhagwaan [God] that you are bowling to. If you can beat his bat, I'll buy you a pint of lager tonight."
I took up the challenge. In my second over I got one to swerve away from him and as he pushed forward defensively, the ball went past the outside edge. I ran up to Ashok and asked him whether he would buy me another one if I now got him out. He agreed. In my next over I bowled a ball - and I still don't know how I managed it - that started so wide outside off stump that he lost interest and shouldered arms. It came back sharply at the last moment to hit him right in front of middle stump and he was out lbw. That was my second lager for the night.
The following week, we played against MCC at Lord's, and in each innings the scorecard read: Boycott c Gavaskar b Solkar. By the time the Tests started, the English media had made a big issue of Boycott v Solkar and it affected him mentally, perhaps.
In the second innings of the first Test at Old Trafford, I was fielding at forward short leg when he tried to flick Abid Ali away. I stopped the ball instinctively and challenged him to run, wagging my finger at him as I spoke. He was taken aback. In the very next over, I got him to edge one and Farokh Engineer took a wonderful diving catch, almost at first slip. I now had him four times in five innings and he didn't play the rest of the series. In fact, his next Test match was to come three years later.

As told to Rahul Bhattacharya. This article was first published in Wisden Asia Cricket magazine