The 1960’s hold a special place in Indian cricket because it was a decade which saw some of country’s finest talent in action. It was just about the time the Indians were learning how to win at the big level. They weren’t exceedingly successful in terms of numbers, but the flair which with some of the players stepped on to the cricket field has never been replicated in the history of Indian cricket – it never will be even though we have a lot of flamboyance in the present squad. The team of 60’s had something magical. Sadly one of the magicians of that era, Rusi Surti, passed away recently. We pay our tribute to the late cricketer better known as the ‘poor man’s Gary Sobers’, and a few others from that memorable period, who are no longer with us.
Rusi Surti: A valuable all-rounder, Surti played 26 Tests for India from 1960-1969. He scored 1263 at an average of 28.70 with nine half-centuries. Surti’s highest score in Tests was 99. With the ball, he took 42 wickets at an average of 46.71. His best bowling figures were 5/74. Significantly, Surti was a brilliant fielder and set the benchmark for the likes of Eknath Solkar. In a poetic coincidence, he played his first and last match at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai.
Nawab of Pataudi Jr: TigerPataudi will forever be remembered as the youngest Indian Test captain as also for the legend of playing with one eye, literally. It was under Pataudi that India began believing they could win. Pataudi represented India in 46 Tests between 1961-1975. He scored 2793 runs with six hundreds and 16 fifties at an average of 34.91 and a highest of 203 not out.
ML Jaisimha: Mohammad Azharuddin and VVS Laxman were artists for sure, but Jaisimha was the original stylist from the land of Hyderabad. Watching him bat was a treat for fans without doubt, but his up-collar style became equally famous, Azhar being one of the fans who carried the tradition forward. Jaisimha featured in 39 Tests for India from 1959 to 1971. He scored 2056 runs with three hundreds and 12 fifties at an average of 30.68 and a highest of 129. His death aged just 60 in 1999 was deeply mourned by the cricketing community.
Dilip Sardesai: In a way, Sardesai was instrumental in launching Sunil Gavaskar’s Test career. On the memorable 1971 tour of West Indies, the technician amassed 642 runs with two hundreds and one double hundred. With his near impeccable defence, he saved quite a few games for India. Sardesai played 30 Tests for India from 1961-1972. He scored 2001 runs with five hundreds and nine fifties at an average of 39.23 and a highest of 212.
Ramakant Desai: Tinyas he was fondly called proved Indian could produce quick bowlers as well. In an era when the team completely depended on spin, Desai was a pleasant change. Importantly, he tasted success as well. In 28 Tests he featured in between 1959 and 1968, Desai scalped 74 wickets at 37.31 with two five-wicket hauls. His best bowling figures in match were 8/190. Though he did not possess great batting skills, he managed to notch a highest Test score of 85.
--By A Cricket Analyst