| Prince Charles with Rahul Dravid in Glasgow on Tuesday. The one-off ODI between India and Pakistan was abandoned without a ball being bowled. Picture: Pradeep Mandhani/imageallsports.com
Glasgow: He came. They saw. He conquered.
Thanks to the elements, not one ball could be bowled in the one-off ODI between India and Pakistan for the Future Friendship Cup, on Tuesday, but it’s not that the rather dour Clydesdale Cricket Club didn’t see any action.
Centrestage, indeed, was taken by Prince Charles. The heir to the British throne, who was all humility, spent well over an hour at the Club and came away a clear winner.
Such was the royal effect that a Board of Control for Cricket in India official was overheard telling a caller that he’d at least met Prince Charles. “So what if the match wasn’t played, I met him...”
Interestingly, as flying involves noise pollution, the eco-friendly Prince Charles took an overnight train from London. He sure is conscious about the causes he espouses.
One, of course, is community development and it’s the formal launch of the British Asian Trust (Bat) which brought him here.
As Bat has his patronage, Prince Charles personally thanked the captains (Rahul Dravid, Shoaib Malik) and the top guns of the Boards — Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Dr Nasim Ashraf and the Indian secretary, Niranjan Shah.
Prince Charles, in fact, first went to the Indian dressing room to greet the players. Later, he went to the other one. A joint photograph followed.
That Prince Charles does follow cricket became evident when he stumped former stand-in Pakistan captain Mohammed Yousuf by enquiring about his world record-creating run in Tests last (calendar) year.
Besides scoring the maximum-ever, an awesome 1,788, Yousuf posted nine centuries.
“It came as a pleasant surprise... He was particularly keen on knowing the number of centuries I’d hit last year... Woh khel follow karte hain,” Yousuf remarked.
When Prince Charles met Sri Lanka’s 1996 World Cup-winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga, he remembered having been photographed in a batting stance at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo.
“The Prince felt he didn’t look too good... I had to gently point out that he still looked better than some of the current batsmen!” Ranatunga said.
Besides the cricketers, Prince Charles made time for the janata. He made everyone feel special, even if the interaction was about the weather in Islamabad (the question he put to a Pakistani lady).
“Really, I don’t believe it,” exclaimed Prince Charles on being told that The Telegraph had assigned Yours Truly exclusively for the fund-raiser.
He then asked, smiling: “Just how big is the interest back in India' It must be huge...”
Prince Charles, however, didn’t reveal his favourite cricketer. “My favourites go back... No, I wouldn’t like to take names...” Clearly, it’s not anybody from this generation.
With Prince Charles lending support, Bat has been able to raise over “pounds 1.5 million.” The match was insured and, so, the ticket refunds won’t affect the bottomline.
According to Bat chairman Manoj Badale, the Indian and Pakistani Boards have agreed to “explore a way” for another face-off. “It’s too early to talk of a date... The calendar is too tight...”
Footnote: There were separate gates and stands for the “jai Bharat mata” and “Pakistan zindabad”-shouting Indian and Pakistani fans. The organisers insisted it was “standard practice.”