I had written a blog about Cricketer-Politicians of India and it was well appreciated. As per the wishes of my friends, I am now selecting my World-Cricketer Eleven.
It is “My Eleven” and I welcome feedback on the same. The criteria for selection is that the cricketer should have played for his country and also have later on taken an “active” political role. I would like to know whether you agree with my choice or disagree and you have “your” different Eleven.
My team has two openers, three in the middle-order, two allrounders, a wicketkeeper, a spinner, and two fast bowlers. I have also discussed other players who do not make it to the playing Eleven but are excellent cricketers in their own right. Maybe they will figure in your playing Eleven.
So, here goes;
Openers. I have short-listed four openers. They are Sanath Jayasuriya, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Aamer Sohail, and Chetan Chouhan.
Jayasuriya is one of the most attacking batsmen of all time and played 110 Tests and 445 ODI’s. He has 14 Test tons including a 300 and 28 ODI tons with 189 as his highest score. He has been Minister twice, once in Mahindra Rajapaksha’s Government, and once in Maithripala Sirisena’s Government. Navjot Sidhu played 51 Tests with 9 hundreds and 136 ODI’s with 6 tons. He has been Lok Sabha MP twice, Rajya Sabha MP, and a minister in the Punjab State Government as well. Jayasuriya and Najot Sidhu will be my openers.
Missing out are gutsy opener Chetan Chauhan and Aamer Sohail. Chetan Ji played 40 Tests and had many memorable partnerships with Sunny Gavaskar. He was twice MP from Amroha and was a Minister in the UP Govt when he, unfortunately, passed away last month due to COVID-19 complications. Aamer Sohail and Saeed Anwar were a destructive opening pair for Pakistan and Aamer had joined Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League for a brief political career.
We now come to the Middle Order; There are several contenders including Sachin Tendulkar, Mohd Azharuddin, Ted Dexter, Tiger Pataudi, Vinod Kambli, Mohd Kaif, Arjuna Ranatunga, and Sir Frank Worrell. Selecting three is indeed difficult. Let’s go in for eliminations first.
Sachin would have walked in but misses out as he was a nominated MP. Vinod Kambli who contested the 2009 Vidhan Sabha elections from Vikhroli (Mumbai) seat misses out as well. So do Mohd Kaif and Tiger Pataudi. Kaif had contested the 2014 Lok sabha Election from Phulpur in Uttar Pradesh and lost to the BJP candidate Keshav Prasad Maurya. Tiger Pataudi lost the 1991 Bhopal elections from a Congress ticket to BJP’s Sushil Verma. The highlight of his election was campaigning by Kapil Dev. Accepting his defeat gracefully, he bowed out of electoral politics.
That leaves us with Four and three are required to be chosen.
Arjuna Ranatunga, who had the distinction of playing his country’s 1st and 100th Test and taking his team to a World Cup win has had an active career as a cricket administrator and as a politician as well. He has been a petroleum minister, he has also been a minister for ports and highways. Once in an unfortunate incident, he was arrested as his bodyguards fired at supporters of new Premier Mahinda Rajapaksha ( Ranatunga is a loyalist of Ranil Wickremesinghe) and some were injured and one person died.
Ted Dexter, known as Lord Ted for his “aloof self-confidence” was an aggressive middle-order batsman who scored 9 centuries for England, including a thrilling one against Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith where he took them on. He is one of the most fascinating personalities the game of cricket has seen. The ICC rankings were his idea and which he calls his biggest contribution to cricket. He once opted out of a cricket tour to contest against Jim Callaghan who went on to become the PM. After he lost, he came back to resume his cricketing career.
Azhar played 99 tests and had 22 tons with England being his favorite opposition against whom he scored 1978 runs @58.08 with 6 tons. He was an excellent ODI batsman as well. He led team India for 47 tests and 174 ODI’s. Azhar was MP from Moradabad and is in the Congress party. He is currently President of the Hyderabad Cricket Association.
Sir Frank Worrell was the 1st non-white to captain West Indies for a full series ( George Headley had captained for a solitary Test). He has been widely acclaimed as one of the greatest Statesmen and Ambassadors who have played and captained in cricket. As a batsman, he scored 3860 runs at 49.8 with 9 centuries. He was one of the 3 W’s and the 1st of the three to be knighted. He was appointed to the Jamaican Senate 3 times.
Considering overall cricketing and political career, Azhar, Ranatunga, and Worrell make it to my playing 11. Worrell will be the Captain as well.
For all-rounder, Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan walks in. His cricketing achievements are amazing including being the captain of a world cup winning team. For the second allrounder, there are two choices, Manoj Prabhakar and Laxmi Ratan Shukla. Manoj’s cricketing achievements are much much more. He has taken 96 test wickets and scored a test ton. He also has 157 ODI wickets and 2 tons in ODI. As a politician, he contested the 1996 Parliamentary elections but could not win from Delhi. Laxmi Ratan Shukla in contrast played just 3 ODI’s and was unlucky as the Indian selectors preferred other allrounders like Irfan Pathan and Sanjay Bangar. He was a prolific 1st class cricketer though with more than 6000 runs in the Ranji Trophy and 172 wickets as well. He is the Sports minister in West Bengal Government and entered the Assembly after defeating Roopa Ganguly from Howrah constituency.
Imran Khan is obviously my 1st all-rounder. The second is Laxmi Ratan Shukla who edges out Prabkakar for being more successful in politics.
We now have Jayasuriya, Sidhu, Worrell, Azhar, Ranatunga, Imran and Laxmi Ratan Shukla in our team. We need a wicket-keeper, a spinner and two fast bowlers.
Kirti Azad walks in. He has played 7 Tests and 25 ODI’s for India and was a member of India’s world cup winning squad of 1983. He was MLA in Delhi and 2-time BJP MP. Currently, he is in the congress party.
Wicket-keeper was a difficult choice. I could not find any wicket-keeper who took up a career in politics. Finally, I have selected Gill Langley of Australia who played both test cricket as well as football for Australia and went on to become a Member of Parliament, a Minister, and finally Speaker of the Australian Assembly.
We now need 2 fast bowlers and my short-list is Wes Hall, Sarfraz Nawaz, Praveen Kumar, and Chetan Sharma.
Praveen, in my view, is one of the most talented bowlers ever to play for India. He played in 6 tests and 48 ODI’s. He joined the Samajwadi Party. Chetan Sharma whose hat-trick in the World Cup is a lifetime memory for all of us, played 23 Tests and 68 ODI’s. For me, his best cricketing achievement came in the 1986 2-0 test series win vs England in England where he took 16 wickets in 2 Tests. He had unsuccessfully contested the 2009 Lok Sabha elections from Faridabad on a BSP ticket.
Sarfraz Nawaz who is credited with “discovering” reverse swing played 55 tests for Pakistan in which he took 177 wickets. His greatest Test performance was when Australia at 305/3 needed 77 runs to win and he took 7 wickets for 4 runs and Aussies were bowled out for 310. He entered politics after his cricket career was over and once won as an Independent candidate.
Wes Hall played 48Tests for Pakistan and took 192 wickets. He was one of the 1st great fast bowlers for West Indies and the 1st to take a hat-trick. He bowled the final over in the famous Tied Test. He was a cricket administrator and became President of the West Indies Cricket Board. As a politician, he entered both Assembly and Parliament. He was also Tourism Minister for Barbados. Hall and Sarfraz make it to my 11, edging out Praveen Kumar and Chetan Sharma.
My World Cricketer-Politician Eleven, therefore, consists of Sanath Jayasuriya, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Frank Worrell ( Captain), Mohd Azharuddin, Arjuna Ranatunga, Imran Khan, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Gill Langley (wicket-keeper), Kirti Azad, Wes Hall, and Sarfraz Nawaz.
Do you agree with my selection?
The blogger, Ritesh Misra, is an IRS Officer currently based in Mumbai. He tweets @riteshmisra. His hobbies are sports, films, and music.
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