Back in school days NTR sir was our Physical Training master. We hated his warmup routines in games period. It curtailed the time for playing cricket. NTR Sir vehemently hated cricket. He was all for Athletics, Football and Basket Ball. Our School lacked a play field. Despite this, he developed a reasonable Basketball team for the school. He felt that cricket was the main reason Indians could not progress. He used to say..

  1. Not a Global game. No China Russia or USA in the picture.
  2. No continuous physical activity. The game at best involved 4 people at a time. Rest all relax.
  3. Batsman centric game – Indians lacked team working capabilities because of this.
  4. No effort based reward. Bowler runs 60 meters the Batsman leaves the ball bowled. Commentator says well left.
  5. The Match fixing allegations then made the game unethical for him.

Yesterday, my light Breakfast in the morning was not followed up by lunch. It was late afternoon. I headed to the Rayar Mess  — a 12 seater eatery with limited menu. A place relished by common men and celebrities.

As I ordered the food and was waiting for it to be served, I met, Sait uncle. Sait uncle was a knowledgeable man. He was first to tell me that the father of a “little master” cricketer was running Satta Bazar decades before the first match fixing scandal broke out (not our Bharat Ratna man).

We were discussing the retirement of MSD. A Person on the other side of the table – an octogeneration – interrupted us. He said, there was no Dhoni without Nehru. He recalled how Nehru padded up for playing a friendly game during the Constituent Assembly days. He continued “Nehru captained his team. He held the bat after a long time. Scored a Single and decared himself “retired” and exhibited sportsmanship. This was the reason for India becomin a super power in Cricket. Without Nehru, there was no Kapil, Sachin or MSD. Because of him, India won 2 world cups.”

‘Captain’ Nehru had actually made a ‘guest’ appearance in the game. Held cricket bat after 2 decades, managed to put bat on Ball once and scored 1 run. He declared himself morally out immediately. This is according to the other person was “captaincy by example” that today’s children should know.

Sait uncle became furious. He said “it is not captaincy. You do not captain a game you do not know. It is wasting / denying a spot for an eligible person. It was nepotism. Nehru ji should have at best played a trial ball. Or should have been a non-playing captain.  Nehru should have sweated out in the field and played till he got out as he chose to be a playing captain.”

The other person quickly branded Sait uncle a Sanghi. He said it was after all a drawn friendly match and started abusing him saying that lower house could not have found a better captain.

I spoke to cool things down. I said, Nehru never held a hockey stick in public, but India won the world cup as early as 1975. Even before that, we had won Olympic gold more than half a dozen times. The rate of progression in cricket was very slow. Dead slow that Nehru would describe it as “Hindu Rate of Growth”. The other person raised his tone and tutored us with generic story of independence movement.

The conversation was never ending. The Rava Dosa in our plates was finished some time ago. We washed our hands. That slowed things. The Sait spoke to the old man in his pleasing tone… “Sir, with great respect, I ask you… Do you know that Cricket was not the only game Nehru played as a captain. He also captained and spearheaded another game in which he was not well versed. Here also he declared himself morally out after a spending less than little time on the field. That match was drawn too..”

The other person became anxious; asked “which game? Is there any other sport Nehru ji played?”

Saitji respectfully said. “Yes Sir, Nehru played it. He Rather played with it. It was Kashmir. The game remains drawn ever since.”

“Sardar was the better player. He knew the game. Played it. Won it and united all the princely states into one nation. Nehru chose to captain Kashmir. It is still unresolved”

We both left the place amidst stoic silence.

Moral of the story: Children! never captain the game you do not know.

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