|The Nizam College Cricket team 1981-82 (courtesy Deccan Chronicle)|
I had the good fortune of playing with Vivek who was my first captain in the Ranji side when Venkatapathy Raju and I made our debut (Vivek was also the captain of MCC, our club side), T. Pawan Kumar and Sunil Phillips who both played a season for MCC, when they made a determined bid to play Ranji Trophy by sheer dint of scoring runs, and Imtiaz (sitting second from right) a highly combative, quick thinking, live wire on the field who narrowly missed playing first class cricket despite scoring heavily.
Those were the days when I witnessed players such as these, and Nandan, Prakash Rathod and Jeshwanth from Karnataka, all making determined bids to oust established senior players from the Ranji side. In fact the Karnataka players were under a vow that they would not shave their beards until they played first class cricket. I think they all played. Prakash Rathod also went on to become a politician, now a well established Congress leader from Bijapur.
Vivek, Pawan, Sunil Phillips, Imtiaz (from this picture) combined with 16-17 year old talent such as Sanjay, Srinivas Chakravarthy, Venkatapathy Raju, Fazal Abbas and I, and Vijay Bhasker Reddy, the ageing wisdom of M.L.Jaisimha and Santosh Reddy (who fractured his hand in that fantastic 1982-83 season while taking a catch and never played again), Govind Raj and Aravind Rao and gave everyone a run for their money in that one season in 1983-84. Eight players from that team were in the Ranji Trophy probables that year. From this MCC team, apart from Vivek, Pawan and Sunil Phillips, Venkatapathy Raju, Srinivas Chakravarthy and I played first class cricket. Of course Venkatapathy played much higher grade as well and represented India in Tests and One Days. Which basically comes to prove that it was a good side - we beat Syndicate Bank, had SBI bowled out for 202 (Azhar and all) and got Andhra Bank down to 100 for 5 that season.
But the point I wanted to make is that such teams happen once in a while - the Nizam team where I began - for that matter. It was not just cricket that these players were known for, they had several other talents, which is evident now. A Chief Minister and an MP to start with. Imtiaz worked extremely hard at his corporate career and is now Vice President or higher in Reliance (last heard of) of some other equally good company and would soon be seen in business magazines and television, if not already. Pawan runs a very successful cloth business while Sunil Phillips is in New Zealand. C. Sridhar, unfortunately, passed away due to ill health at a young age, a few years ago.
I cannot identify the other four gentlemen in the picture but I will get some info on them soon. There was one medium pacer who later became a strategic analyst for Infosys if I remember right. But one thing I find intriguing, the getting together of so many multi faceted people at one place. Also goes to say, its not a bad thing to be playing cricket at all!