Once Upon an Anecdote

Shoe byte

When Sir Garry Sobers helped a young Indian lad kickstart his career


Wadekar: put himself in Sobers' shoes © Getty Images
I was at the Brabourne Stadium nets, gearing up for my Test debut against West Indies, in December 1966. I was wearing a pair of old torn shoes, which I'd had since my college days (I believed they were lucky for me). As I was practising, this gentleman came up and asked my name and if I was playing the Test. He then asked what my shoe size was.
When I got home later that day my mother told me that a man had come over and left a pair of shoes for me. She had no clue who the kind-hearted soul was, even after he told her his name.
It was none other than Garry Sobers, captain of West Indies. He had taken the trouble of locating my residence in Shivaji Park and come over personally. It was a really nice gesture.
I wore the shoes Garry gave me instead of my lucky pair on debut. I scored 8 and 4 in that match, and 0 in the first innings in the third Test in Madras.
I joked with Garry that his shoes had not brought me any luck, since I had failed to get into double digits in my first three innings wearing them. So when I got 67 in the second innings in Madras, he promptly came up to me and told me it was because of the luck his shoes had brought me. He laughed even louder when I said the shoes had gotten old, which was why I had started getting runs.

As told to H Natarajan