- Arts & Entertainment
- All Stories
Emotional throwback to Indian cricket's glorious era
New Delhi, May 13, 2021
Twice Upon A Time is an emotional throwback to Indian cricket’s glorious era when Ajit Wadekar’s team made history in 1971 by winning their maiden away series in the West Indies and England. It is an anecdotal journey conceptualized and written by Sachin Bajaj and Nishad Pai Vaidya with a delightful foreword by former West Indian captain Clive Lloyd.
Bajaj is the Founder and Managing Director of the Global Cricket School, a venture that has facilitated quality cricket coaching, training and camps. Vaidya is a sports anchor and writer with over a decade’s experience of having covered six ICC world events.
India’s Fairytale Cricket Victories of 1971 have been relived with inputs from some of the members of the team. As Bajaj noted, “We wanted to honour the legends who inspired us from our younger days. We have spent a lot of time with some of them over the years at the Cricket Club of India, especially Ajit Wadekar, Dilip Sardesai. I have know GRV (Viswanath) for many years. Loved hearing Eknath Solkar talk when he came to the club. Great memories with Farokh Engineer, Sunil Gavaskar. Also did fitness training and played friendly matches with Kenia Jayantilal.”
On the concept of the book, Bajaj gave credit to colleagues Clayton Murzello and Vaidya. “We were well guided by Clayton on content. A lot of research was done by Nishad on the book. Our aim was to document the anecdotes and scorecards and let people enjoy it rather than give opinions. This book was about the series and the players and not about us or what we thought. It was meant to bring alive their great deeds and honour them,” said Bajaj.
The book has little known stories from the two tours that are hailed as the turning point in India’s cricket history. “A major paradigm shift in our cricket history. Very tectonic. We were looked at very differently with a lot more respect. Our spinners were feared and the emergence of Gavaskar started an era that went on till 1987. It laid the foundation for the next 50 years of Indian cricket,” Bajaj noted.
Lloyd is glowing in his Foreword. “Having watched Indian cricket for decades, I can say their performances in 1971 marked their ascendancy in Test cricket. Although we were at the receiving end, it was really good to see Indian cricket finding its strength. There are so many highlights for India on that tour, but one man who stood out was Sunil Gavaskar. What I admired most about him were his powers of concentration. The win in the Caribbean gave India the impetus and they carried all that confidence into the tour to England,” Lloyd wrote.
Bajaj and Vaidya point out the resilience that the 29-year-old Wadekar put up after being saddled with the job of captaincy. “West Indies were not at their strongest or their best then but India were not only battling the opposition but also a mindset. On the other hand, England were arguably the best team in the world at that time, having gotten the better of Ashes rivals Australia. Gavaskar led the charge and others rallied around him,” they write in their Preface.
The book throws light on the role that former great Vijay Merchant played in planning India’s charge. “Though he is the youngest player in the team, the seniors players would do well to follow his example,” Merchant had said to the team about Gavaskar before the departure.
He was also responsible for appointing Wadekar captain in place of Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi. The book also reveals Wadekar’s vision as he backed the selection of Sardesai, who, according to the authors, was “destined to be a catalyst for India on the tour of West Indies, setting the wheels rolling towards history.”
Rich with anecdotes, the book gives equal space to all the members of the teams that travelled to the West Indies and England.
Twice Upon A Time
Published by Notion Press
Price Rs 399