The Cricket Tree

I have been fighting hard to vanquish the lopsided theory espoused by today’s cricketers that ‘I know more cricket than you because I have played more than you.’ Thats utter rubbish. All three in the picture above (Grandfather, uncle and I) played the game as amateurs, for the love of the sport. The question was never am I a bigger player than another, it was always about playing a sport in its truest spirit, about living life in its truest spirit. 

My grandfather Nawab IAK Pataudi got a hundred on debut playing for England against Australia. He disagreed with Jardine on ‘Bodyline’ and walked out of the team. He believed cricket was a sport, a unifier and not a war to be fought and won at any cost, He refused to sacrifice the spirit of the game.He never played for England again but came back to India and captained India.

My uncle, the one eyed genius MAK Pataudi, always walked when he got a snick. to him too it was about playing the game in its truest spirit. He did exactly that all his life.

When i started playing cricket i realized the only thing that was missing from the sport, especially in Hyderabad dressing room, was this spirit. The spirit of a team, the spirit of a mate for whom i would give my life, the spirit of playing for my state, the spirit of being an amateur cricketer who loved the game to death. I had heard stories about my grandfather from Lalaji (Lala Amarnatah) and wanted to be him, i would hide behind curtains and listen to my uncle and MLK Jaisimha and others speak of both the ladies and the game of cricket that they loved so much. I wanted to play that cricket and not any other. And i must say that my playing for Haryana, after my extended illness, did give me that satisfaction, albeit for a short time. That dressing room was so perfect. That team was so lovely to be a part of. I remember playing a match at Faridabad. Kapil Dev was also with us. He had a muscle pull and was in discomfort. He knew that i hated fielding and loved my time in the slips, talking crap with Salim our keeper. he hobbled over to Mid off till I realized what was happening and forced him to stand in slips and rest but not before i hugged him in the field out of sheer affection and immense respect, for not only a great player, but a wonderful human and a friend. That was the cricket that I had heard of hiding behind the curtains and i am so lucky that i got to see it with some amazing people.

The cricket tree is a statement. It states that all cricketers are one. I would never compare myself to a genius like Tiger Pataudi if one was comparing, but this is not about comparison. Its about the spirit of cricket in our blood. Its about love for a beautiful sport and how, we as a family, were able to take that love down three generations. I wish the youngsters of today would learn from this but they won’t. the professional in them won’t let them. And that saddens me.

Even at the Royal Migration Camp one thing that both my wife and I have tried to install is the true spirit of safari. We are working hard to make sure that we retain the romance on safari, else it would useless asking you to spend time with us in the African bush. I do hope that when you come and stay with us, you will feel the true spirit of being in the bush. Till then stay safe.