Champions make for a memorable night

Champions make for a memorable night

Cricketers Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid (BUCC President), K L Rahul and Karun Nair at a panel discussion in Bengaluru on Frday. DH Photo/ Srikanta Sharma R

The centenary celebration of the Bangalore United Cricket Club (BUCC) on Friday night here brought many contributors to Karnataka’s rich cricketing legacy under one roof.   

‘Night of Champions’, as the event was called, was a night of several interesting tales narrated and cherished by the stalwarts of the game spanning across six decades. 

The topic most discussed was the sea change witnessed by the game today. Anil Kumble, India’s highest wicket-taker in Tests with 619 scalps, was known for his sage-like commitment. The former India captain owed his attitude to the cricketing culture he grew up in.  

“I started my career as a scorer first,” he revealed. “No one would directly be picked for matches in those days. From Jayanagar, I would go to the ITI ground in either a cycle or a bus and then do scoring for matches. If you give a scorebook to a player of this generation, he might not know how to do,” Kumble said in a panel discussion that included former India skipper Rahul Dravid, India opener KL Rahul and Karun Nair.  

While Rahul was quick to salute the commitment of his seniors and mentors, the stylish batsman made a relevant point of players utilising the fast-changing facilities.

“I played cricket first in Mangaluru and I did scoring too. During training, before having to bat, I had to sweep the cement wicket and put the mat. I feel you can’t expect the upcoming players to have the same connection with the game. The infrastructure has improved drastically and players are only focused on learning the game and that’s not wrong,” he felt.  

Kumble is one of the best battlers the game has ever witnessed. The former leg-spinner’s early days reveal his never-say-die attitude. “There was a feeling that if you want to play for Karnataka, you must join bigger clubs like BUCC or Swastic Union. But I strongly believed that if I could take wickets, score runs and establish myself as a quality cricketer, it won’t matter which club I played for. That’s why I remained loyal to Young Cricketers. Talent should be given utmost importance,” he said. 

Dravid, president of BUCC, underlined the importance of club cricket. “At the age of 16, I was handed the wicketkeeping gloves in a first division match for BUCC at the BEL ground. Seniors like Syed Kirmani and Sadanand Viswanath felt I had to get good exposure before my inter-state competitions. That had a positive impact on me. Clubs are not only about those who represent the country. Players and others who remain loyal to the clubs throughout their lives are heroes in their own right,” Dravid said. 

GRV and sledging 

The legendary G R Viswanath, sharing the stage with Kirmani, Roger Binny and Sadanand Viswanath in another panel discussion, spoke about his first and only tryst with sledging.

“It was a league game and I don’t want to name the bowler. He has played for Karnataka. His lbw appeal was turned down and he turned towards me furiously to say ‘you were plumb’. I told him it’s the umpire who decides. After a couple of balls, I smashed him through the cover for four. The bowler was stunned and he told me ‘that was a nice shot.’ I shot back: I know that. The fielders haven’t moved!

“The bowler never spoke to me from that day. I didn’t know it was sledging. I was just answering him. I decided I won’t talk to anyone like that because I didn’t want to lose a good friend,” GRV recollected.  

Venkatesh Prasad, Vijay Bharadwaj, Stuart Binny and Mayank Agarwal were the other India internationals present at the function.