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‘’The Five Year Absence From International Cricket Stunted My Test Career’’, Says Salim Durrani In An Exclusive Interview

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In an era of words confined to 140 characters for subtle nuances to be expressed, the smell of cricketing folktale can intoxicate a person who longs for a draught of cricketing Elixir.
Such a desire was fulfilled when cricfit correspondent RitamBasu recently had a conversation with Prince Salim of Indian cricket- Salim Aziz Durrani. An octogenarian who is young at heart,Durranisahb who is 82 years old now had been a potent match winner for India with both the bat and the ball in an international career spanning 13 years from 1960 to 1973. Hailed as one of the finest Indian all-rounders to have ever graced the 22 yards, the former left-arm spinner cum left handed batsman was renowned for his knack of clubbing sixes on public demand. Blessed with striking looks and anexcellent sense of humour, the flamboyant cricketer on the field was an equally benevolent person when off it as is evident from Little Master SuniGavaskar’s words when he once said, ‘’Once I and Durranisahb were travelling in a train for a First Class game in the month of December. Since winter had just set in, the weather was frosty and I was quivering in the cold. When Durranisahb took notice of me, he handed over his blanket to me in a very pleasing gesture. Would any established celebrity ever do that for a youngster who has just begun his career in cricket?’’. Durrani, the first cricketer to win the Arjuna Award is also the only Test player to be born in Afghanistan, a country which has been plodding with big steps in the realms of international cricket of late. At times it gets difficult coming to terms with the fact that he has only 29 Tests under his belt in an international career which lasted more than a decade. In a candid chat with our website, Durranisahb narrated thestory of a man who played the game in the medieval age of cricket, when ‘romance’ and the ‘willow’ went hand in hand.

Q: How’s your health at the moment?

Durrani: At present, I am seeking treatment for a spinal cord gap in Bangalore. Then, I am also suffering from knee pain. Life does get a bit difficult at this age. That said; I am feeling good about my health at the moment.

Q: Great. Do you actively watch cricket nowadays?

Durrani: Yes, I do.

Q: You must be watching the IPL then. What do you have to say about your home team, Gujarat Lions’ performance so far this season?

Durrani: I am watching the IPL. The new franchise has got off the blocks nicely. Suresh Raina has been leading the side well. I am hopeful of a good result from them at the end of the season.

Q: Durranisahb, let’s discuss your boyhood days. You were born in Kabul. Then your family shifted to Karachi of the Sindh province when you were just 8 months old. While growing up, you saw the India-Pakistan partition being brought into effect. What kind of an impact did it have on the mind-sets of people?

Durrani: There were riots and massacres that culminated in the partition. I was very young in 1947; only 13 years old. Every citizen in India longed for freedom during that time, after being colonised by the British for over three centuries.Many great martyrs rendered their lives for one collective cause which was freedom. Like many other states, Bengal was affected largely by the exploits of the British Raj and faced the wrath of the British colonial powers. Later, when I read about the Bengal partition movement and the JallianwalaBagh incident in my history books, my heart grieved for those whose lives were actually torn apart by such incidents.

Q: Your father was employed by the Jam Saheb of Jamnagar. Then Maharajah Ranjitsinhji was also the Jam Saheb at one point in time. You must have grown up in a sporting atmosphere having shifted to Jamnagar.

Durrani: Maharajah Ranjitsinhji had died in 1933 and was succeeded by Maharajah Digvijaysinhji. My father came down to Jamnagar for the services of the Jam Saheb in 1934. Having grown up in a sporting setting, I played all kinds of sports- be it hockey, football or tennis. I used to play as a goal-keeper in my school-days. Later when I grew up, I also visited football clubs in Kolkata like East Bengal, MohunBagan and Mohammedan Sporting. PK Banerjee and ChuniGoswami (former football Captains of India) happen to be good friends of mine. But, the people of Jamnagar were more inclined towards cricket. Hence I took liking to cricket (smiles).

Q: Your father Abdul Aziz was also a cricketer, who had represented India in unofficial Test matches against Australia under Colonel CK Nayudu’s captaincy in 1935/36. He was a wicket-keeper but you went on to become a spin-bowling all-rounder. What inspired you to adopt the role of a spin bowling all-rounder?

Durrani: I used to play as a fast bowler during my school days you know. Also, occasionally I bowled spin in my childhood. My father advised me to take up left arm spin. Papa was himself into sports like football and tennis and I have learnt all my cricketing basics from him.He was the one who gotme acquainted withcricket and I followed his footsteps you can say.

Q: Who was your favourite cricketer in your childhood?

Durrani: I was largely influenced by Vinoo Mankad. He was the greatest all-rounder in the world when we were growing up. Later I also played alongside him in the Rajasthan Ranji Trophy team where he was my Captain for two seasons (in 1957/58 and 1959/60). I am grateful to Allah for bestowing that opportunity upon me.

Q: After the partition, you and your mother continued to stay in Jamnagar whereas your father moved to Karachi. How difficult was it to stay away from your father at such a tender age and in the germinal stage of your career?

Durrani: Yes, it was a bit difficult but as time moved on, we got used to it.

Q: Your father made his mark as a coach in Karachi. He is credited with shaping the career of Pakistan’s legendary batsman Hanif Mohammad. Did you have any interaction with Hanif later?

Durrani: My father had moved to Karachi in 1947. Hanifbhai prospered under papa’s tutelage. I later met him during an India-Pakistan Test at the Brabourne Stadium in 1960. He was a very simple man and got along with everyone.

Q: You made your Test debut against Australia in Mumbai in 1960. You came in for Jasu Patel whose heroics with the ball had inspired India to a famous victory in the first Test in Kanpur. How did it feel on receiving the prestigious Indian Test cap?

Durrani: It was obviously a remarkable experience. I didn’t play the Kanpur Test but was inducted into the squad as a standby along with Man Mohan Sood, BudhiKunderan and Milkha Singh for the remainder of the series. LalaAmarnath, who was the chief of selectors back then, had been following my performances in the domestic circuit closely and thereby developed a deep affection for youngsters like me and Budhi. The man whom I replaced in my Test debut was an outstanding spinner- Jasu Patel. He was suffering from food poisoning prior to the Bombay Test because of which I was drafted into the squad. Those days, we were not backed by the expertise of technical analysts as I see now. We never prioritised the nature of the surface ahead of our individual skills would be itching to play on any kind of wicket.

Q: Richie Benaud was the Australian skipper in that series. What kind of a character was he on and off the field?

Durrani: Oh! Benaudsahb was a great character and had a terrific personality. Regardless of his resplendent persona, he forever remained a keen student of the game. On the field, he was an absolute gentleman; very calm and always focussed. He never indulged in sledging. There was perhaps no one in the cricket fraternity at that time who did not respect him. He was an amazing Captain as well. He never lost any international series as a Captain. Am I right?

Q: Yes Sir.

Durrani: That demonstrates the kind of impact he had in Australian cricket in the 1960s. He carried forward that same elegance to the commentary box after his retirement.

Q: In the 1961-62 season, you put upastellar all-round show at home against England. Your performances throughout the series inspired India to their first Test series victoryover England. Did that series instil a sense of confidence in you that you truly belonged to the international level?

Durrani: By God’s grace, I performed really well in that series. Not just I but BapuNandkarni and ChanduBordealso did well.Nari Contractor sahb captained the Indian team in that series. He was a highly adorable person, an excellent captain besides being a good opening batsman.The best part about that particular side was we stuck together like a family. People like Farokh Engineer and BudhiKunderan always kept the dressing room energised. That series has always been embedded in my memory for I contributed to the team’s cause with both the bat and the ball.

(For the sake of statistics, Durrani claimed 23 wickets in 5 matches which made him the highest wicket taker in the aforementioned series. He also scored a gritty 71 in the first Test at the Brabourne Stadium).

Q: The visiting English team boasted of a strong batting line-up with players like Ted Dexter and Ken Barrington. Did you plan any differently before coming up against the likes of these two gentlemen?

Durrani:Ted Dexter’s England was a hard nut to crack, even if they travelled the sub-continent. It wasn’t easy to face off against players like Dexter, Ken Barrington and David Allen. Ken Barrington was known as the ‘Rock of Gibraltar’ of our times for his almost impenetrable defence. I, ChanduBorde and Nandkarnisahb used to discuss among ourselves how to bowl against them. Dexter was a very technically sound batsman but his weak zone was the area outside the off-stump. ChanduBorde exploited that weakness of his and dismissed him in both innings of the final Test in Madras (modern day Chennai) by bowling in the channel outside the off-stump. Imagine how we worked those things out without sifting through video footages of players! (Bursts into a fit of laughter).

Q: You shared a good rapport with ChanduBorde on the field. What was the secret behind your success as a pair?

Durrani: Dekhiye, maineChanduBordesahbkesaath batting me kuchhyaadgaarpaariyabhikheliaur bowling me eksaath wicket bhinikalatha (Look, I put up many memorable partnerships with ChanduBorde while batting and we also formed a formidable spin bowling pair for India). I think you should lavish more praise on Bordesahb. He was an exceptional all-rounder. He was a leg-spinner, so he complemented by bowling well since I was a left-arm spinner.

Q: You shared the dressing room with people of whom we only find reference in cricket record books like Polly Umrigar, Pankaj Roy, VinooMankad and Tiger Pataudi. Could you kindly share any interesting anecdote pertaining to that era which you have not shared anywhere else before?

Durrani: In the Madras Test of England’s tour of India in 1972/73, I hit Norman Gifford for a couple of sixes in the second innings. He got infuriated.He walked up to me and asked, ‘’Can you hit our pacers for sixes’’? He was a left arm spinner. Later, after the close of the day’s play I told him, ‘’Excuse me Sir, I couldn’t comprehend that you were bowling spin. Yours balls came in so fast that I could connect them easily’’. Hearing that, he burst into laughter which spurred reconciliation between the two of us.

Q: Who is the best Captain you played under in your international career?

Durrani: I played under a lot of good Captains like Tiger Pataudi and AjitWadekar. But I must confess, I have never seen a better Captain than Pataudi in my life. He was a great thinker of the game, a flashy batsman anda terrific fielder at backward point. He was actually a great motivator who led the team with gusto.

Q: Tell us one thing Durranisahb. How did Tiger Pataudi manage to play so many fearsome fast bowlers of your time with only one eye?

Durrani: To be honest, we never possessed the courage required to approach him and ask him such questions directly. However a couple of decades post my retirement I read one of his interviews where he had said he actually saw two balls but played only the one which came inside. What he did on the 22 yards for years is simply beyond the grasp of any common man. They didn’t call him a genius for nothing.

Q: You also have a glorious First Class record. You represented Gujarat in domestic cricket before moving to Rajasthan in 1957. Rajasthan made the RanjiTrophy finals seven times in a row, in each of which they lost against Mumbai. What made the team so formidable back then?

Durrani: Firstly, I would take the opportunity to thank MaharanaBhagwat Singh Mewar who was the instrumental force behind Rajasthan’s upsurge in the later part of the 1950s. He invited many good players across the country to offer their services to Rajasthan cricket. On his invitation, VinooMankadsahb had moved to Rajasthan in 1956. You must have heard Raj Singh Dungarpur’sname, the youngest son of MaharawalLakshmanSinghji (the ruler of Dungarpur). He was a right arm medium pacer who represented Rajasthan in the domestic circuit between 1957 and 1971. He had an astute cricketing brain besides having the royal blood in him.
Then we also had SubhashGupte in the team who had the distinction of scalping nine wickets in an innings in one of the Tests of India’s tour of the West Indies in 1959 perhaps. If you ask me, I would proclaim that he was the best leg-spinner I had seen in my career. So, obviously we emerged as one of the top bracket sides in First Class cricket during the time I am talking about. Like you said, we reached the Ranji Trophy finals on seven successive occasions but in each of those years we were tied down by a strong Mumbai (erstwhile Bombay) side in the finals.

Q:You did exceedingly well in the Duleep trophy in 1971-72, taking 22 wickets in the tournament (including a nine wicket haul in the final). How did you maintain your composure while performing so well that season which earned you a comeback into the Indian team after a gap of almost five years?

Durrani:Duleep Trophy I believe is an even more challenging tournament than the Ranji Trophy because it is contested among zones. Over there, you play against the top notch players from each zone and thus the level of competition intensifies as it is a league consisting of the best in business. I represented the Central Zone in 1971. Our Central Zone side was a culmination of teams like Madhya Pradesh, Vidarbha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Railways, so we had some genuine match winners in our ranks such as me, Hanumant Singh andSuryaveer Singh.

I was approaching the twilight of my career and needed to produce a few solid performances in order to come under the purview of national selection. But I never let myself fall prey to any undue pressure. Luckily I was selected for the tour of the West Indies later that year on the back of my Duleep Trophy success and the rest as they say is history.

Q: Which one did you enjoy more? Batting or bowling?

Durrani: Both actually. I always intended to be a genuine all-rounder. That said; I enjoyed batting a touch more than my bowling.

Q: You faced a lot of robust bowlers in international cricket in the 1960s and 70s. Which bowler gave you the hardest time on the pitch?

Durrani:The first name has to be that of Wes Hall without any shadow of a doubt. Alan Davidson and John Price were also intimidating competitors. I also had a tough time facing the likes of Lance Gibbs, Geoff Arnold and Derek Underwood. Then Peter Parfitt was also a wily off-spinner. I remember the first bowler I faced in my international career was Ray Illingworth of England. He was one of the most proficient all-rounders in the world at that juncture and to come up against him in my debut was indeed a special experience. I went in to bat at No. 10 in that game.

Q: And who was the most difficult batsman youcame up against internationally?

Durrani: RohanKanhai, Sir Garry (Sobers), Colin Cowdrey and Ted Dexter were the most challenging batsmen one had to bowl against in that era. I also bowled against the great Neil Harvey in 1960. How could I forget Ken Barrington’s name? All of them were batsmen of exalted rank and I cherished bowling against each of them.

Q: In your comeback Test against Clive Lloyd’s West Indies in Trinidad, 1971, you scalped two crucial wickets of that of Clive Lloyd and Sir Garry Sobers which inspired India to a famous series triumph. Talk us through your individual performance in that game and how did the win help Indian cricket in the long run?

Durrani:AjitWadekarwas our Captain at that time and a young SunilGavaskar made his international debut in that series as a 21-year old. DilipSardesai had been in mercurial form right throughout the series. Sardesaisahb was a marvellous batsman who played the fast bowlers wonderfully. He scored a double hundred in the first game in Kingston. EknathSolkar too exhibited his all-round prowess in that series as he shined with both the bat and the ball. I had previously toured the West Indies in 1962 and at that time, the wickets in the Caribbean islands were much faster and springier compared to the ones we saw in 1971.  Talking of the Port of Spain Test, the slow nature of the surface helped our spinners come into play. India had the services of the spin trio of Bishan Singh Bedi, ErapalliPrasanna and Venkataraghavan for that tour. As far as I can recollect, Prasanna and Venkataraghavan had picked up plenty of wickets in that game. I didn’t bowl in the first innings but grabbed two vital wickets of Clive Lloyd and Sobers in the second innings. Overall, the series didn’t turn out to be a satisfactory one for me as I was dropped after the third Test. That series win in the West Indies for the first time is hailed as a landmark in the history of Indian cricket. We didn’t get bogged down in that tour and vied with our opposition with utmost buoyancy.

Q: Sunil Gavaskar in his book ‘Sunny Days’ has written regarding the Calcutta Test of the 1972-73 home series against England, ‘’SalimDurrani who had injured his leg while fielding, took me as his runner. But there was precious little running I had to do for Durrani who seemed to concentrate more on hitting boundaries’’. My question to you is what kind of a person was a young Gavaskar in the dressing room?

Durrani: He was a very vivacious cricketer from the outset of his career. He was very young, perhaps 20 or 21 years old when he made the cut for the Indian Test team and hence he was the cynosure of everyone’s eyes when we travelled the West Indies in 1971. Prior to the tour, I had played against him in the Duleep Trophy final where he had scored a century for West Zone. He etched his name in history by hitting four centuries in his debut series. He was initially a shy person in the dressing room, but as he got accustomed to its ambience he began to get more comfortable. As a 22 year old also, he cracked a lot of jokes and kept the mood of the dressing room light.

Q: How was the experience of becoming the first cricketer to win the Arjuna Award?

Durrani: It is the fondest memory of my life. In those days, we had heard of the Arjuna Award but were not familiar with its appearance. I was honoured with the award in 1962; the year it was initiated. But there is a humorous side to it. I was playing a series in the West Indies when the award was conferred on me. In the midst of the series, I forgot all about it. Eventually, I collected it in 2009- after 47 years. The fact that I was the first cricketer to be chosen for the prestigious award made it all the more special for me.

Q: Your final Test appearance was a memorable one. Yet you played only 29 Tests for India. Frank Worrellonce compared you to the legendary Sir Garfield Sobers.Could you have been given a longer rope in the international circuit?

Durrani:Yes, I have heard Sir Worrell’s conjecture many a times. It was very courteous of him to say so. It testifies to the kind of person he was.
I could have been given a longer rope but it was all up to the selectors. I wasn’t considered for the national team for five years, from 1966 to 1971. It wasn’t until the Duleep Trophy in 1971, where I guided Central Zone to the title almost single-handedly that I was redrafted into the team again. Some people say that I had fallout with Vijay Merchant which led to my exclusion but it is not really true. He was a good cricketer and he wanted to groom a crop of new players. I shared a 100-run partnership with ChanduBordesahb at Bombay against the West Indies in 1966 before I was axed. I finally called it a day in cricket in 1973 because at that time I had grown old by the standards of Test cricket. I was 37 then.

Q: Looking back at your cricketing career, which performance of yours would you rate as your best in international cricket?

Durrani: I played some memorable matches you know. During England’s tour of India in 1961-62, I did well in the fourth Test in Calcutta. I took eight wickets over there. Then, I picked up a match haul of 10 wickets in the next game in Madras. So, these two performances would be right up there.
(For the sake of statistics, Durrani returned with figures of 5/47 and 3/66 in the first and second innings respectively in Calcutta and in Madras, he recorded figures of 6/105 and 4/72 respectively).

Q: OK. One of our followers from Kolkata has a question for you. His name is Varun Chand. He wants to know whether you follow the progress of the country of your birth, Afghanistan at the international level.

Durrani: Yes. I have been watching their progress in limited overs cricket of late. They have made big strides in the past 18 months or so, having qualified for the final rounds of both the 2015 World Cup and the recently concluded World T20. I feel that they are a bunch of enthusiastic individuals who are striving hard to establish a distinct identity on the global stage. It’s up to the ICC to recognise their efforts and help them in their pursuit by channelizing necessary funds wherever required. I personally admire their wicket-keeper, who opens the batting. What is his name?

Q: Mohammad Shahzad.

Durrani: Yes, Shahzad. He is a very dynamic player and has a lot of shots at his disposal. He even did well in the World T20 in Indian conditions. The way he batted throughout the tournament imbedded the seeds of valour among his compatriots. They also have a vivid bowling attack with a good mix of pacers and spinners. The only spot of bother for them is their fielding. It looked a bit shoddy and they need to work on it. If they visit India for any international series any time soon, I will make sure that they dine at myplace.

Q: Here comes the big question. How did you manage to hit those sixes on the spectators’ demand?

Durrani: Look, it was instinctive. I had the good fortune of smashing sixes every time people called for one and so they thought I did it on their demand. But I had always been a good stroke player. I also had ample ground shots in my batting arsenal. I counted on elevation while hitting the sixes. Obviously my height made things easier for me. I was never dismissed while attempting a six. I did it six or seven times, mostly against spinners. Against fast bowlers, there was greater risk factor involved. It was a coincidence that my sixes coincided with public demand (Titters).

Q: You reckon you could have succeeded in T20 cricket?

Durrani: I was not the exclusive patent holder for hitting sixes during my era. My colleagues like Farokh Engineer and BudhiKunderan were also adept at it. We would have flourished in T20 cricket had this format been introduced in our time. According to me, T20 is not purely a format of slam bang cricket as majority of people assume it to be. It also requires a calculative approach from your end. Look at ViratKohli. Does he always look to smack the ball? He times and places the ball well.

Q: Do you sometimes think that you were born in the wrong era?

Durrani: (Laughs)Each era has its own charm my friend. But honestly speaking, I sometimes wonder whether I was born in the wrong time.  Had this T20 format been there in our time, we could have earned greater fame and made good money because at the end of the day these are the primary thingsthat drive a human being in this palpable world. Those days, we used to get only Rs. 50 per Test match but we hung on to cricket solely because of our passion for the game. In a way the IPL has helped several youngsters earn a good livelihood.

Q: The BCCI felicitated you with the C.K NayuduLifetime Achievement award in 2011. Do you think the Board has done enough to commemorate the deeds of cricketers of your generation?

Durrani: I am very grateful to the Board for endowing the award on me. I also received Rs. 15 lakh along with the memento. The person after whom the award is named was my role model in mychildhood- Colonel C.K Nayudu. He was a very graceful player and looked like an emperor at the crease. Then I received the award just a few days after the Indian team had triumphed in the 2011 World Cup. So all in all, it was a mesmerizing experience. The Board treats former cricketers like me with paramount civility.

Q: How was the experience of acting in ‘Charithra’ opposite ParveenBabi?

Durrani:Arre main tohabhibhifilmo me kaamkarnekeliyetaiyaarhoon (I am still ready to act in movies). I can still play the role of a grandfather in films. Jokes apart;ParveenBabi was a very versatile actress. Let alone her acting skills, she was also a very intelligent woman and would discussa wide range of topics with the caston the sets of Charithra. I was a bosom friend of DevAnandsahb and BalrajSahaniji. Director B.R Ishara then one day asked Dev (Anand) sahb whether I would act in films. Later, Devsahb conveyed Isharaji’s message to me and I consented to it. He called me to his office one day and soon we developed a good rapport between us.

Q: Durranisahb, we have the rapid fire round coming up. Shall we start?

Durrani: Haanji, bilkul (Yes, for sure).

Q: Your nickname.

Durrani: Log tohmujheSalimkehtehai (The answer came in typical Bollywood fashion).

Q: Your favourite cuisine.

Durrani: Any vegetarian dish. I avoid sea-food because I am allergic to it. A lot of appetizing vegetarian items are cooked at home and I always prefer simple, homemade food.

Q: Your favourite holiday destination.

Durrani: Wherever you take me (Laughs).But, I visited the Caribbean islands and East Africa during my playing days. These are fabulous places.

Q: Your favourite cricket stadium.

Durrani: The Eden Gardens. The kind of love and support you receive from the spectators there is unparalleled.

Q: Your best friends in the Indian dressing room while you were playing international cricket.

Durrani: I made plenty of friends in my career. Farokh Engineer and DilipSardesai were my closest mates as they would be my roommates inquite a fewoverseas tours.

Q: Your favourite movie.

Durrani: I love Dadamoni Ashok Kumar’s ‘Aashirwad’ and DevAnandSahb’s ‘Jewel Thief’.

Q: Your favourite actor.

Durrani: Om Prakash, Pran, Dilip Kumar sahb and Ashok Kumar.

Q: Your favourite actress.

Durrani: MeenaKumari was a great actress in the 1960s. I was an admirer of Nargis, WahidaRehman and SmitaPatil. I also loved SuchitraSen’s acting in ‘Devdas’.

Q: Your hobbies.

Durrani: I read books and watch the television in my leisure time. As I told you earlier I have been unwell in recent times, so I don’t step out of my home always. Then on weekends I visit the Summair Club in Jamnagar where I find some of my old friends.

Q: Your favourite cricketers of this generation.

Durrani: Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja.

Q: Any one cricketer of the modern generation in whom you see your reflection?

Durrani: I don’t think players from one era can emulate the deeds of their predecessors. However RavindraJadeja is someone whom I like watching play. In fact, his bowling action is akin to that of West Indies’ Alf Valentine.

Q: The best compliment you received in your cricketing career.

Durrani: Seeing my performance in the 1971-72 season of the Duleep Trophy, renowned Times of India journalist KN Prabhu wrote an article which bore the headline, ‘Is it the Duleep Trophy or the Durrani Trophy?’. It’s the best compliment I have ever received in my life.

Q: Your favourite cricketing moment.

Durrani: It would be our victory in the second Test atPort of Spain in our 1971 tour of the West Indies. We had a good blend of experience and youth in that tour and we fared reasonably well against a very powerful West Indies side which comprised the likes of RohanKanhai, Clive Lloyd and Garry Sobers.

Q: Your message to young, aspiring cricketers.

Durrani: The first prerequisite to play cricket is discipline. One should always be keen to learn new aspects of the game. Nowadays, improvisation has also become an important factor but ensure it doesn’t overshadow your basics. Take Sachin’s (Tendulkar) example. He had the ability to shift gears but never did he do that at the expense of sacrificing his basics. Virat (Kohli) is doing the same thing now. And the most important thing, don’t let yourself flow unnecessarily in the current of aggression.

Q: When you look back at your 13 year-long international career, do you regret anything?

Durrani: There are regrets. In spite of scoring 55 runs in the first innings of the Bombay Test against the West Indies in 1966, I was dropped from the side in the second game in Calcutta; the reason stated was I had turned undisciplined and eccentric. The reason why I couldn’t feature in the second Test in Calcutta was because my wife was ill and hospitalized at that point in time. When I came back for the second Test, a day before its commencement, I was told by the team management that I had exhibited irresponsibility with my attitude even when I had sought prior permission from the Board regarding a break. Hanumant (Singh) bhai and Abbas Ali Baig were included in the side for the Madras Test and I was neglected. I somehow consoled myself. I had to wait for five long years to make a comeback into the national team and my disappointment rankled until I spun Central Zone to triumph in the Duleep Trophy in 1971. If I hadn’t missed those five years of my international career, I could have go on to amass 3000 runs and claim 150 wickets in Tests.

Q: The last question. How does SalimDurrani, who is unbeaten on 82 now, wish to spend the final few deliveries of this glorious innings called life?

Durrani:I spend time with my grandchildren; keep meeting some of my old friends and watch cricket on TV as I told you earlier. I have seen several ups and downs in life and all those experiences have only helped me become more mature and enriched my life. I have always tried to follow one major principle. Whoever you meet in your lifetime, try and make sure that you treat him/her with respect. I have always encouraged my known ones and made sure I didn’t disgrace anyone with my demeanour. Otherwise, you become an offenderin the eyes of Allah or God. I want to spend the remainder of my life in the company of my loved ones..

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