| Astronaut Rakesh Sharma
Calcutta: Wing Commander (retd) Rakesh Sharma’s formal interaction with the Team India regulars and those on the fringe has been put on hold, possibly till just before the tour of Pakistan, slated for early next year.
India’s only astronaut did meet the cricketers during Sunday’s second practice game (also David Johnson’s benefit) in Bangalore, but that coach Greg Chappell-initiated session was casual sans a theme.
“I spent some 15 minutes, that’s all' A longer dialogue was intended before the final conditioning camp ended (on Tuesday), but the practice matches and the selection meeting left no time,” Sharma told The Telegraph on Friday evening.
Led by Rahul Dravid, the Indians leave for the 2005-06 season-launching tri-series in Sri Lanka on Saturday. The squad flies out from Chennai to Colombo.
That Sharma ' who assumed iconic status by rocketing into space 21 years ago ' would interact with the Anil Kumbles and Suresh Rainas was first reported in these columns (July 14).
Contacted on his cellphone, the Bangalore-based Sharma said: “It’s not confirmed, but the formal session may now be scheduled for just before the tour of Pakistan' In any case, it’s Greg’s call.”
Asked whether he was disappointed at not having a word or two with Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar, who were back in England and Mumbai, respectively, Sharma laughed: “Well, I knew they had left the camp'
“Actually, I quite enjoyed the limited time especially with Dravid, Virender Sehwag, Kumble and Harbhajan Singh' Perhaps, now, I’ll be following their tri-series performance with a bit more interest than usual.”
An allrounder when young, Sharma regularly played while at university and at the National Defence Academy.
Sunday’s exercise was brief, but it confirmed that Chappell wants the No.1 achievers (or barrier-busters) from diverse fields to share their experience with both the most seasoned and greenhorns.
It’s part of his passionate push towards the next level.