Friday’s celebration of the lives of sports journalist and radio commentator Dicky Rutnagar and a veteran cricket administrator Jaywant Lele at the Cooch Behar Room, Cricket Club of India (CCI) turned out to be a pleasant reunion for Nari Contractor (79), Chandu Borde (79) and Chandu Patankar (82).
Of the three, Borde played the most number of Tests. From 1958 to 1969, he has played in 55 tests. Border and Contractor were teammates in the Indian team until the left hander Contractor was felled by a Charlie Griffith in the match against Barbados at Bridgetown during the 1961-62 tour of the West Indies. Patankar played one Test for India against New Zealand at the Eden Gardens in 1955.
The golden oldies gang was much bigger some years ago with the then CCI President Raj Singh Dungarpur going out of the way and showing genuine warmth for Polly Umrigar, G.S. Ramchand, Bapoo Nadkarni, Madhav Mantri, Contractor, Borde, Patankar, Salim Duarni, Sharad Diwadkar, Baloo Gupte, Ajit Wadekar and Dileep Sardesai at cricket related events. Patankar was employed at CCI for many years, whole Borde drove from Pune for convivial functions at the club.
A cricket nut, executive committee member of the CCI, Sachin Bajaj organised the memorable function. He was a dear friend of Rutnagar and Lele who passed away few months ago. The Rutnagar family (his sisters) listened to some wonderful words about Dicky from Contractor, Borde, Khalid Ansari and Raju Bharatan, all of whom agreed that Dicky was a superb writer and commentator and none in the press box matched him for a ready wit and play the role of a prankster.
Borde said there was imminent entertainment when the Parsee cricketers Umrigar, Rusi Surti, Contractor, Farokh Engineer and Dicky were around and one really marveled and laughed at their pun-intended language. It was after helping themselves with a lovely fare laid out by the club that ended with walnut pie, that Borde said with pride that he was indeed lucky to be associated with the three Indian legends Col. C.K. Nayudu, Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar.
“I am not ready to name the best among the three; they played in different eras. The Colonel, even at 60, played the young fast bowlers at nets without leg guards, abdomen and thigh guards and gloves. He was amazing. Sometime in the mid 50s he wanted to see the future Indian cricketers and we were called to the Kotla. He bowled full-tosses at shoulder height and three are four batsmen hit the ball in the air and on the leg side. I moved back and across and forced the ball away towards mid wicket with the top hand in control. I had faced only one ball. When I told I am from Baroda, he said, ‘Oh that’s where Vijay Hazare is. You are good.’ Their understanding and perception of cricket was different,” said Borde.
“Once he told me to open the innings and hit out straight away. I tried my best in order to score runs, but got out. But he (Col. Nayudu) appreciated the fact that I heeded to his instructions,” said Patankar.
Both Patankar and Borde were quite receptive to the idea of a free wheeling session with the sports journalists and narrate and describe their journey in the field of cricket.