| Sharmila Tagore and Tiger Pataudi |
Chennai: Sharmila Tagore, widow of the legendary Mansur Ali Khan ‘Tiger’ Pataudi, spoke to The Telegraph from a New Delhi hospital on Wednesday afternoon.
Had Sharmila not taken ill, she would have been here for the inaugural ‘MAK Pataudi Memorial Lecture’ organised by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
The following are excerpts
Q Are you and the family happy that, belatedly, Tiger is getting the recognition he should always have got?
A Well, let’s not start on a controversial note... I suppose big organisations have a funny way of working... They probably don’t mean badly, but... I got a letter from the BCCI in November 2011, a couple of months after Tiger passed away, which indicated a Lecture would be held in December... It didn’t take place then, but I’m glad it’s happening this (Wednesday) evening. I’m upset that I won’t be there.
How did you fall ill?
I ate something on the flight back from Chennai, after the literary festival there, on Monday... I had to be hospitalised early on Tuesday... I could be discharged after another day.
The Telegraph was first off the blocks, last year, when Imran Khan delivered the inaugural Tiger Pataudi Memorial Lecture... Soon, Greg Chappell will deliver the next one, again in Calcutta...
I know... Some of my friends find it a bit odd that two Lectures are going to be held in such close proximity to each other, but the BCCI decided on its date as recently as last week, much after your newspaper did.
Should Tiger be remembered in some other manner too? What do you feel?
You cannot dictate how somebody should be remembered... I’d be happy if there’s a (full-fledged) tournament... There are a few being held here and there... Tiger won’t ever just be the flavour of the month or season... I’m glad that a book (Pataudi, Nawab of Cricket) has just been released. The way it has come out has given me a lot of satisfaction.
Would Tiger have been happy with what’s being done in his memory?
You knew Tiger... He may not have said anything publicly, save a few words, but would have been chuffed within! He’d probably have quipped something.
Almost a year-and-a-half after Tiger’s passing away, how do you remember him the most?
My memories are of Tiger sitting in the house and reading newspapers... God knows how many he read... He’d surf the net... He’d keep himself abreast of the happenings... I remember the amused look he often had, his smile... The half grin... We were married for almost 43 years.
Did the two of you ever talk cricket?
It’s after Tiger’s passing away that I’ve begun to follow cricket rather closely... It remains a link even though he’s not there... Maybe, if I’d followed cricket as closely when Tiger was alive, then he would have spoken a lot more about it to me... We never discussed cricket, but I’d listen if he said anything... Like how good Vishy (Gundappa Viswanath) was... Or, if he talked about Eknath Solkar’s fielding... Or, how good Kaps (Kapil Dev) was.
You weren’t up to it on the strokes, but was Tiger actually your favourite cricketer?
It was Jai (M.L. Jaisimha).
Didn’t that make Tiger jealous?
Not at all... Jai was a good friend of his.
In more recent times, who has been your favourite?
I liked Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid... Now, of course, both have retired.
Well... I think young Bhuvneshwar Kumar has a great future. He’s bound to bowl better... I hope success doesn’t go to his head.
What’s your take on Mahendra Singh Dhoni as captain?
I can’t comment, because I’m not qualified to... However, he seems to handle the pressure well and led from the front in the recent ODIs against England.
Having been married to one of the finest captains, what do you think goes into the making of a good captain?
A good captain must have a good temperament, which will allow good decisions to be made... He’s got to spend time with his players and must understand them well... If he doesn’t, then he won’t be able to communicate... I suppose a captain must also be a little detached in some ways and, clearly, nearly take to politicking... The ability to take pressure from the media is important as well... I remember Tiger telling me that Peter May just couldn’t take the pressure from the media.
Fans in India react in extremes...
Absolutely... You can’t make somebody a hero one day and pull him down the very next... Most of the fans go the way the wind is blowing, they need to learn more about the game and not only ask for fours and sixes. Even Sachin (Tendulkar) hasn’t been spared. Fans should remain loyal, even when the going isn’t good.
Till when should Sachin play?
He knows best... It’s not for me to put a time and date.
Do you have a message for India’s cricketers, ahead of the big Test series against Australia?
(Laughs) They don’t need a message from me... I’m sure they’ll do well... I’ll definitely be rooting for my country.
Finally... Tiger had gone to court over his sudden removal from the IPL’s governing council by the BCCI. Has that been settled?
It’s sub judice, so I wouldn’t like to talk about it... Personally, I’d like it to be settled... Also, there should be no confusion over India-England Test series’ in England being played for the Pataudi Trophy. That should be made known.