|Indian cricket and it's minorites|
|by Gulu Ezekiel|
|Dec 07, 2006|
Our politicians may not have anything better to do
with their time these days and so cricket-bashing is
the flavour of the month currently in Parliament.
The Indian team touring South Africa is the target of
the nation's ire. But it took a phone-call from an
Urdu newspaper in Mumbai in the middle of last week's
"Debacle at Durban" to open my eyes to an aspect of
Indian cricket that needs to be universally applauded.
"Is it the first time there are four Muslims in the
team?" was the question. To which my answer was:
"Please check the score-card of the very first Test
match played by India at Lord's in 1932".
Mohammed Kaif, Munaf Patel, Wasim Jaffer and Zaheer
Khan (Durban 2006) -Irfan Pathan had been dropped from
the playing XI--are the spiritual heirs to the legacy
laid down by S. Wazir Ali, S. Nazir Ali, Mohammad
Nissar and Jahangir Khan (Lord's 1932). And four years
later at the Oval in 1936 six of the Indian playing XI
The newspaper's headline the day after the Durban ODI:
"Hindustan one-day team mein pehlee baar chaar
Musalmaan ek saath."
Yes, there is much wrong with India cricket. But while
I have not done the necessary research in other
sports, there is no doubt that cricket stands tall in
India when it comes to treating our minorities in a
fair and just manner.
Indeed that famous first Test team, captained by the
legendary CK Nayudu, also had in the playing XI two
Parsees and a Sikh.
Thirty-two out of 256 players who have represented
India in Test cricket are from the Muslim community
and four of those have been captain - Iftikhar Ali Khan
(the Nawab of Pataudi Sr.), Ghulam Ahmed, Mansur Ali
Khan (the Nawab of Pataudi Jr.) and Mohammad
Azharuddin. The percentage break-up is just about the
same as the official figures for the community as a
whole in India.
In addition, two Christians (Vijay Samuel Hazare and
Chandu Borde), a Sikh (Bishan Singh Bedi) and two
Parsees (Polly Umrigar and Nari Contractor) have also
captained in Test matches.
More than 30 years after his retirement 'Tiger'
Pataudi remains the most charismatic, idolized and
romantic of our cricketers. He led without a break for
an amazing nine years and then came back for one final
glorious series four years after he had been sacked as
Pataudi was the first captain to do away with the bane
of regionalism in team selection. For Indian cricket's
greatest weakness has not been religious
discrimination but instead selectors chosen on a zonal
basis who invariably back players from their own
As captain Pataudi always insisted on merit being the
lone criteria for selection and Indian cricket under
his leadership forged a united identity and character
for the first time.