At the world level, Imran Khan is the 1st International cricketer and world Cup winning Captain to be a Prime Minister. Football has George Weah, a striker for PSG, Man City, AC Milan and Chelsea who became President of Liberia. Five times Olympian Ryoko Tani, called by many as best female Judoka ever, is a Member of Parliament in Japan. Chess great Garry Kasparov is involved in active politics in Russia. So is middle distance running legend Seb Coe in England.
Boxing has 3 examples. Pac-Man Manny Pacquiao, the only 8 division world champion in history, who has won 11 Major titles is a Senator in Phillipines. Russian Vitaly Klitschko, a successful heavyweight boxing champion who won 45 out of 47 bouts, including 41 by knockout is the current Mayor of Kiev. Dictator Idi Amin too was a national level boxing champion.
In India we have our Olympic medallist Colonel Rajavardhan Singh Rathore as a current Union Minister. Leading sportspersons in politics are Boxer May Kom, Hockey legends Dilip Tirkey and Aslam Sher Khan, national swimming champion Nafisa Ali and football Captain Prasun Banerjee.
We also have many cricket players who have jumped into the political arena, so much so that we can have our very own Indian Politician-Cricketer 11. Here goes, in batting order, the Indian Politician-Cricketers 11.
We have 2 successful Indian Openers in our Playing 11, namely Navjot Singh Sidhu and Chetan Chouhan. Both are current Ministers.
Sidhu played 51 tests and has 9 Test tons. He has also played 136 ODI’s and has played for India in the World Cup as well. Sidhu became a successful TV Commentator and is well known for his one-liners. As a politician he is a 2 time BJP MP from the Lok Sabha. He was also Rajya Sabha MP but resigned, joined the Congress and is at present an MLA and Minster in the Punjab Government.
Chetan Chouhan, 2 times MP from Amroha is also currently Minister in the Uttar Pradesh Government. He played 40 Tests for India, and opened with Sunil Gavaskar against fearsome attacks.
We have a very strong middle order where Mohd Azharuddin, Sachin Tendulkar, Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi and Mohd Kaif select themselves.
Azhar who still has the record of 3 consecutive tons in his 1st three Tests captained India 47 times out of the 99 Tests he played, in which he had 22 tons. He has been Congress MP from Moradabad and is expected to contest the 2019 elections from Secunderabad.
Sachin was a nominated Rajya Sabha MP for 6 years from 2012 to 2018. He will bat at Number 4, his preferred spot in his 200 Test career.
Tiger Pataudi will come in at 5. At 21 he captained India and remained the youngest Test captain for over 40 years till the record was taken by a younger Tatenda Taibu. The Nawab will captain this team as well. In his electoral battle in 1991 at Bhopal, despite Sharmila Tagore, Kapil Dev and Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi campaigning for him he lost to BJP’s Sushil Verma. Earlier in 1971 when Indira Gandhi had abolished the Privy Purse he had contested elections from Gurgaon on a Haryana Vikas party ticket, but was not successful.
Mohd Kaif who was the Under 19 world cup winning captain before playing Tests and ODI’s for India will bat at Number 6. Kaif is part of one of India’s most famous wins ever when his 87 in 75 balls partnered Yuvraj (69 in 63) from a precarious 146/5 to chase a gigantic 325 in the Natwest final, which led to huge celebrations including a shirt waving Sourav Ganguly, which will be a lifetime memory for most of us. Kaif contested from Nehru’s constituency Phulpur in the 2014 Parliamentary elections but lost to BJP’s Keshav Prasad Maurya.
Kirti Azad comes in at 7. He was a member of the 1983 victorious World Cup winning team. Kirti who played 7 Tests and 25 ODI’s is the son of a former Chief Minister Bhagwat Jha Azad. His political career started by winning the Gole market assembly seat from Delhi in 1993. He is a 3 time MP from Darbhanga and is a current Lok Sabha MP
Laxmi Ratan Shukla has played 3 ODI’s for India. An all-rounder, he bats well and is an effective medium pace bowler who was a stalwart for the Bengal Ranji team. He was a sought after IPL player as well. Currently he is an MLA and Sports Minister for the Trinam
Ranjib Biswal, a handy batsman and fastish off spinner has 5 1st class tons and over 150 1st class wickets as well. He was the captain of the Under 19 Indian team and was a Ranji, Duleep and Deodhar trophy regular before becoming a 2 time Lok Sabha MP. He was also a National selector and the Manger of the 2011 World Cup winning side. Currently he is Rajya Sabha MP from Odisha.
Kiran Kumar Reddy, former CM of Andhra Pradesh is the only non 1st class cricketer but makes it to the team due to his wicket keeping skills. He was the U-22 Hyderabad Captain of a team which had Azhar as a batsman. Those days sponsors were not available and when Azhar played his 1st Test the kit was presented by Kiran.
The 11th and 12th members of the team are two young politicians, both of whom are sons of former Chief Ministers. Who will be in the playing 11 and who will be the 12th man. I leave it to the readers to decide.
Anurag Thakur played one Ranji match for Himachal Pradesh when he was HPCA President. As a cricket administrator his rise was swift and he became Secretary BCCI and then BCCI President as well. His father Prem Kumar Dhumal was CM of Himachal Pradesh. Anurag is current Lok Sabha MP from Hamirpur. This is his 3rd term.
Tejaswi Yadav played a Ranji Trophy match and 2 List A games for Jharkhand. The right arm bowler and right handed batsman was also in the Delhi Daredevils squad for 4 seasons but did not plan any IPL Game. Son of former Chief Ministers Lalu Prasad Yadav and Rabri Devi, Tejaswi was Deputy Chief Minister in the Nitish Kumar led Government for 20 months.
Most selections have the potential of debate, but since I have covered almost all the cricketers, this particular selection may pass the test. If I have missed any cricketer, do point it out as comments and feedback.
The blogger, Ritesh Misra, is an IRS Officer currently based in Mumbai. He tweets @riteshmisra. His hobbies are sports, films and music.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Pragativadi.com and Pragativadi.com does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.