Tiger left us a year ago and as time passes it becomes increasingly evident he was one of a kind, a true legend. With him, it was not about runs scored, the young age at which he became captain or the number of matches he led India in. Tiger took Indian cricket forward, introduced fresh ideas and set high standards — his cricket was marked by remarkable vision and dignity.
Those days, the Indian team was fragmented; players lacked a sense of nation or country. Tiger the captain changed that, ensuring that eleven individuals should play as one team. And, in times when no shame was felt on dropping a catch or letting the ball through the legs, Tiger insisted that balls had to be stopped, chased and caught.
While it was normal for frontline batsmen to retreat towards square leg at the sight of fast bowlers, Tiger stood up, got in line and was unafraid to hit them over the top.
Though a megastar, Tiger was utterly different from the normal stereotype of the Indian cricket superstar. He soaked in celebrity, but remained untouched by its ills. Self-deprecatory by nature, he was modest to the core. He never talked about himself or his cricket.
When others raved about his leadership, his response was that people unnecessarily complicate captaincy and read too much into something, which is straightforward. In his opinion, captaining a team was not difficult; certainly not as complex as made out. Once, asked to respond to a comment made by Raj Singh that he was India's Colin Bland (greatest fielder) better than Azharuddin or Kapil Dev, he just smiled and dismissed the suggestion: “That is his opinion. Ask him.”
Tiger was a reluctant administrator, he served briefly on the IPL Governing Council and when the Lalit Modi controversy erupted, he had the courage to admit that mistakes were made. Over the years, his was a respected, sensible voice about Indian cricket. It is fitting that India and England will play Test matches next month for the Pataudi trophy --- an appropriate tribute to a legend who represented the best of both countries.
Tiger was a tough professional years ahead of his time, someone with loads of flair, elegance and sheer class.
The writer is a Delhi Daredevils official