Former cricketers share anecdotes at Pataudi's memorial service

Saif Ali Khan (second from left) receives guests during the Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi’s memorial service

By CricketCountry Staff

New Delhi: Oct 3, 2011

Cricketers, celebrities, politicians and eminent personalities from various fields were present to pay their final respects to Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi at his memorial service on Monday.

Pataudi s wife Sharmila, daughters Soha and Saba and son Saif Ali Khan and Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor, received the guests who came to pay their condolences to the aggrieved family.

First to arrive was Union Minister Salman Khurshid followed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s wife Gursharan Kaur.

Others present included Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, BJP leader Arun Jaitley, former chief minister of Rajasthan Vasudhara Raje Scindia, Pakistan ambassador to India Shahid Malik, superstar Amitabh Bachchan’s daughter Shweta and her mother-in-law Ritu Kapoor Nanda, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, renowned cardiologist Dr Naresh Trehan, former cricket Kapil Dev, Ajay Jadeja and Bishen Singh Bedi.

The service ended with a documentary, which Sharmila had made for her husband’s 70th birthday.

“My mother felt that birthday was special and it was probably the last time all of us were in the room. But we didn’t know back then how special it really was,” Saif said.

He recited ‘Do not stand at my grave and weep’, a 1932 poem by Mary Frye, which summed up the mood.

Tales about Tiger Pataudi livened up the mood turning a somber event into a celebration of the wit and humour he epitomised.

Bedi, during the service, recalled moments he cherished with the former India captain.

“We had been coming back late to our rooms during a series,” Bedi said, recalling how the cricket board had once pulled up Pataudi, saying his lack of discipline was influencing the team.

“He told them: ‘I absolutely insist that all my boys should be in bed before breakfast.'”

The former India spinner continued, some youths had mobbed them for autographs during a Test match in Kanpur. Never known to use even the mildest curse, Pataudi reportedly said: “Their parents should never have slept together.”

“That’s the worst abuse I’ve heard him use,” said Bedi. Khurshid recited a poem by Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

Former World Cup winning captain Kapil Dev said he didn’t have words to express his feelings.

“No cricketer did not want to live his life, talk like him, be him,” said the man who led India to its first World Cup victory.

“I’ve tried hard to play like him and failed,” Kapil added. “He had just one expression on his face. He spoke little, but at every meeting with him he had something precious to give you, something I can’t explain. He was god-gifted. His words had a strength no cricketer had.”

Former cricketer Ajay Jadeja said Pataudi was “as rare as a snow leopard. If we could learn not just the way he played his game but the way he lived his life, it would be a perfect salaam to the Nawab.”

Nawab s nephew, Saad Bin Jung, writing for Deccan Chronicles, said, Pataudi used to share anecdotes with him during his younger days.

“He had this uncanny knack of solving the most difficult of cricket problems by breaking it down into simple, uncomplicated and implementable solutions. To get him to discuss the game was difficult enough but when he did and gave you advice then you listened and memorised it till the day you died for that gem of information would be applicable throughout your life to your ever-changing game,” Jung said.

“He once told me that “good-length” moves around from person to person, it shifts from wicket to wicket and from bowler to bowler. He based his attack accordingly. I wonder how many captains of cricket-playing nations the world over would know this. Such was his acumen and knowledge and that s why I say that he left the rest of India behind when it came to cricket,” Jung added.