04

Born on October 20, 1963, Navjot Singh Sidhu is a former Indian cricketer who represented the national team between 1987 and 1999. Besides playing cricket, Sidhu dons multiple hats of being a commentator, politician, actor, judge and is also famous for his witty one-liners called Sidhuisms. On his 54th birthday, Abhishek Kumar looks back in time and takes out 11 must-know facts about the talented personality.

1. Father

Sidhu’s father — Sardar Bhagwant Singh was also a cricket player and wanted to see his son represent the Indian cricket team. Sidhu made his debut in November 1983.

2. The Strokeless wonder

Later, when Sidhu wasn’t selected after his first two Tests, a columnist with Indian Express Rajan Bala wrote an article that read, “Sidhu: The Strokeless” He was just 20-years-old and saw his father crying after he wasn’t selected.

Not the one to be bogged down easily, Sidhu kept a cutting of the newspaper article with him to inspire himself. His only aim was to make his father feel proud about him. He used to wake up at 4 am, go to the ground, roll the pitch and water it himself before starting the practice. Sidhu started living a very simple life and did not wear any coloured clothes for next four years to not get distracted. He spent his pocket money giving chocolates to youngsters to bowl at full pace. He would hit around 300 sixes everyday and often end up with bleeding hands. During these times, his father passed away but Sidhu never looked back and continued the same routine.

Eventually his hard work earned him a place in the Indian team for the 1987 World Cup, where he hit four fifties in a row, which is still the unbroken world record. After the World Cup, Rajan Bala wrote another article on him and this time in The Khaleej Times with headline that read, “Sidhu: From Strokeless Wonder To A Palm-Grove Hitter. What A Change!”

3. First ODI century

Sidhu’s first century in One-Day Internationals came against India’s biggest rival in cricket — Pakistan in Champions Trophy of 1989 at Sharjah. Opening with Kris Srikkanth and then making a partnership with Mohinder Amarnath, he scored 108 off 121 balls with eight boundaries and one six. Though India lost the match by six wickets but Sidhu was declared the man of the match.

4. Slowest double hundred

Sidhu’s scored only one double hundred in his career of 51 Test matches and that too is the slowest one by any Indian batsman and fifth overall. He was the highest scorer in the second Test against West Indies in March 1996 and only Indian player who crossed three figure marks by scoring 201 in 491 balls, spending 673 minutes at the crease. The Test match ended in a draw but Sidhu once again was the man of the match.

5. First Indian player to score more than five centuries in ODIs

In April 1996, while playing against Pakistan in the Sharjah Cup, Sidhu became the first Indian player to score more than five hundreds in ODIs. Interestingly, both his first and last ODI centuries came against Pakistan. Partnering with young Sachin Tendulkar, Sidhu made 101 off 117 balls.

6. Sri Lanka basher

Probably, Sidhu was the first one who started hitting runs against the island team — Sri Lanka and since then many players have scored huge number of runs against them. Sidhu scored 935 runs in his Test career against Sri Lanka in 11 matches at a handsome average of 71.92 and 984 in ODIs from 27 matches at 41.

7. Husband and wife Namesake

Sidhu’s wife, Dr Navjot Sidhu, shares the same first name with her husband. She’s is a professional doctor but resigned from the Punjab Health Department in January 2012 to join politics. Dr Navjot has been a pillar of political strength for Sidhu. They both have a son and daughter named Karan and Rabia.

8. Commentator

Post retirement from international cricket in 1999, Sidhu started commentating for cricket matches and became one of the most famous for India in the art. His one liners known as Sidhuisms enjoy cult following among the masses.

9. Politics

Besides commentating, Sidhu entered politics as well by joining Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) and contested in the Indian general elections of 2004 from Amritsar seat. Later, he had to resign from his post in 2006 because of the case against him in which he was initially found guilty and sentenced for three-year prison for culpable homicide of Gurnam Singh following a road rage accident. But further, he appealed to Supreme Court in 2007. Court stayed his conviction and sentence and allowed him to contest election, which he won.

10. Acting

Sidhu has made several appearances in movies as well as Television shows. His first guest appearance came in the movie Mujhse Shaadi Karogi in 2004 and also acted once in Punjabi movie — Mera Pind of 2008. He was also seen making guest appearances in many other movies. Beside movies, Sidhu also judged one of the most renowned comedy shows of India named Laughter Challenge along with Shekhar Suman in 2007 and is currently contributing to a comedy show — Comedy Nights with Kapil. In 2012, he was also a part of the reality show Big Boss but due to elections, he had to pull out from the show midway.

11. Pure vegetarian

Most of the Punjabi’s love to eat chicken but Sidhu is quite different. To maintain his health and his smiley cheek, he remains a pure vegetarian.

12. Politics

After retiring from cricket, Sidhu joined politics and was elected as member of Parliament in Lok Sabha from Amritsar in 2004 by representing Bharatiya Janta Party. He later resigned following conviction but after Supreme Court stayed is, Sidhu once again stood in the election and won it. In April 2016, Sidhu took oath as member of Rajya Sabha but resigned from there as well after three months in July. Currently, he along with his Pargat Singh and Bains brothers formed a new political party — Aawaaz-e-Punjab ahead Punjab election in 2017.

(Abhishek Kumar is a cricket devotee currently staffing with Criclife.com. He can be followed at abhicricket.kumar and abhishekkr2593)