Cricket to me in more than a game – it is a way of life. It has taught me three things – – discipline, fairness and commitment. These qualities I brought to bear in life general and even more practically in my business. Above all I have endeavored to play the game of life with the straight bat of cricket and it has been a good innings. I owe a lot to the game, and this book is just one small and humble way to acknowledge and perhaps repay the debt.
Two people have been great influences in my life – my brother Lachu and my friend and role model, the late Fred Oscar. Lachu has been an immense source of encouragement and guidance. I held his hand while learning how to walk and continue to hold it with the deepest affection and respect. Oscar was the kind of person one meets once in a lifetime. As a customs official in Gujarat, India, he was more than willing to sleep on the floor of a third class train compartment rather than miss a match. Oscar migrated to Australia after retirement from the Indian Revenue Service but left me with his infectious enthusiasm and love for the game. It was a particular delight for Lachu and I to host Oscar at the finals of the 1992 World Cup in Melbourne.
Cricket is great leveler. When I was young and an avid cricket fan, I used to dream about meeting the likes of Wadekar, Gavaskar, Lloyd, Vishwanath, Holding, Ian Chappell and a host of other stars. Over the years, I have had occasion to break bread with them during their visits to Sharjah and now count them among my close friends.
A mention of Sharjah will be incomplete without a reference to that fine gentleman Abdul Rahman Bukhatir who brought instant cricket to the Big Desert and made it such a tremendous success. My book is about the dazzle, the pulsating excitement and the fantastic amphitheatre of one-day cricket.
The game brings joy and tears, happiness and frustration and cricket lovers like me have endless discussions on all aspects of the game and how a particular match could have been won or saved. In my interaction with former and current cricketers over the years, I have heard of the matches that excited them and the great duels they had fought, but the general public does not always get to heard of the matches that excited them and the great duels they had fought , but the general public does not always get to hear those stories. This book is an effort to bring some of those great stories to a wider audience.
A large number of cricketers we spoke to are stars of today and actually spoke to us after a hard day on the field or on their way out to take strike! I am grateful to all those players who are featured in this book.
These private stories would never have been printed without the dedication, determination, and perseverance of Rita and KIshore Bhimani in getting these interview.
All the illustrations in the book are by Richie Ryall, the well-known South African artist. I am grateful to Richie and his charming wife Lee for their constant support.
I would also like to acknowledge the unwavering support of Sunil Gavaskar, Raj Singh Dangarpur and the indulgence of my wife Vimla and children Vikram and Priya for thir enthusiasm and participation in this Endeavour.
This book is the culmination of a dream. I present it to you in the spirit of sportsmanship and with a view to return to the game all that it has given me. I hope you enjoy the reading of it as much as I have enjoyed putting it together.