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Nepotism doesn’t work in cricket, says Rajdeep Sardesai at Kasauli Litfest

Fondly remembering his father and cricketer Dilip Sardesai, Rajdeep shared how he wished he had even one-fourth of his father’s sport skills.

books Updated: Oct 07, 2017 20:12 IST
Aneesha Bedi
Aneesha Bedi
Hindustan Times, Kasauli
Rajdeep sardesai,Kasauli lit fest,Dilip Sardesai
Rajdeep Sardesai speaking about his book ‘Democracy’s XI, The Great Indian Cricket Story’ on the second day of the Khushwant Singh Literary Festival in Kasauli on Saturday.(Ravi Kumar/HT)

Journalist and author Rajdeep Sardesai says unlike other professions, nepotism doesn’t work in Indian cricket.

“You can be (Amitabh) Bachchan’s son or from Dhirubhai Ambani’s family but being a test cricketer’s son does not promise a spot in the team,” he said while talking about his latest book, Democracy’s XI, The Great Indian Cricket Story, on the second day of the three-day Khushwant Singh Literary Festival in Kasauli on Saturday.

Fondly remembering his father and cricketer Dilip Sardesai, Rajdeep shared how he wished he had even one-fourth of his father’s sport skills. “I’m an example of the lack of privilege as when I came to Kasauli 23 years ago on my honeymoon, I had no money and it was Khushwant ji who let me in his house. I wanted to watch the test match and the only place you could watch it back then was at the Kasauli Club. One needed to be a member and I remember (Khushwant Singh’s son) Rahul got me here,” he said.

Taking pride in the diversity among the Indian cricket players, be it a coal miner’s son or a Dalit cricketer, Rajdeep’s text looks at the big leap from the once feudal game to diversity the team enjoys today. Making a larger point, he added, “The moment you move away from a big city and privilege towards a small town to emulate its impact, you realise how far some of our players have come. Students of a government school do not enjoy the same privilege as those of a private school.” As expected, Mahendra Dhoni’s name had to come up, whom he considers a great example of “small town revolutionary”.

Rajdeep Sardesai at the second day of the Khuswant Singh Literary Festival-2017 in Kasauli on Saturday. ( Ravi kumar/HT )

He opined that India’s not far from having an adivasi cricketer either. Reiterating the transformation in the two eras, Rajdeep’s unabashed tone threw light on how during the times of his father and Pataudi, one got Rs 200 or won a cricket bat as a contract for playing three matches, while today it’s a million dollars. “My father got three bats for a contract he undertook, while Dhoni today gets over a million dollars for simply promoting that MRF sticker on the same bat,” he smiled. He got nostalgic on how Dilip Sardesai even had to borrow a bat from the West Indies when his broke, to which a witty moderator, Mihir Bose, said the Indies probably regretted giving him that bat.

Yet, Sardesai looks at the dramatic overturn on positive light too. He talked of how the current generation of sports players were more in-your-face, while a Gavaskar would probably never have got a tattoo.

Innately passionate about subjects around him, Rajdeep felt it’s about making the right use of an opportunity to reach landmarks, be it in sports or otherwise. On a lighter note, he referred to how if he were to interview a Virat Kohli today, he needed to go via an agent, thereby throwing light on the star-power cricket enjoyed today, more than ever.

On lack of mention of women cricketers in his text:  “There is no chapter on women cricketers in my book, which is perhaps its biggest weakness. I hope someone will write on that soon, if not me.”

On corruption charges against BCCI and DBCA: “It is easy to tag them that way. However, my book talks of how society has changed and there are no more closed doors. State cricket associations like that in Karnataka, playgrounds, academia, show that we must not only look at the glass as half empty but sometimes as half full too.”

On cricketers’ marriages, such as Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi’s to Sharmila Tagore, who converted to Islam, which in today’s time could be termed “Love Jihad” : “Well she wanted to. Also Kareena married Saif, and while there were a few protests here and there, it happened and it’s all good today. What upsets me is the beast social media can be when they decide to name their son, Taimur. That’s where we need to chill I think.”

First Published: Oct 07, 2017 20:09 IST