It was like water off the duck’s again – these taunts of ‘Bombay Duck’ that got here Ajit Agarkar’s means after 7 straight zeroes towards the Australians, throughout two continents and three seasons. There’s one thing elementary concerning the Bombay duck – it isn’t truly a duck. It’s a somewhat delicious fish.
Likewise, there was one thing elementary about how the Mumbaikar considered his stints with the bat — he didn’t actually fret a lot at all concerning the disastrous streak that spanned Adelaide, MCG, SCG and Wankhede. In his thoughts, he was a bowler. Middling tempo most instances, aspiring to be tearaway. Never actually a batsman, below scrutiny. His batting to him was a non sequitur.
What’d it acquired to do with the worth of the fish – the bombil, actually?
“It didn’t bother me then and neither does it today,” Agarkar says of the nickname that caught. “I never read what was written, because my main role was as a bowler and not as a batsman. I would have been more worried if I was not getting wickets!”
Coming in at a dawdling No eight principally as a comet’s tail in the star-studded line-up that boasted Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly, Laxman and even Mumbai titan Wasim Jaffer meant Agarkar wasn’t shedding sleep over the comings and goings of Daddles, the yellow duck that sauntered on TV screens – together with twice when he acquired a pair. “Nobody ever discussed my batting nor (not) getting off the mark. It was the press who started it and I didn’t mind it,” Agarkar remembers.
What it massively contributed to was a dozen innings of principally undazzling 127 runs and a toy-Boeing common of seven.47, regardless of a highest rating of 41, when Agarkar fetched as much as bat at Lord’s on 29 July of 2002.
The Bombay duck may carry its attribute whiff however is kind of irresistible when batter fried in rawa. It was at Lord’s lastly that ‘Agaaa-rkar’ because the commentators known as him, “averaging less than 8” until then, discovered his golden, crispy chunk of succulent, fleshy kind with the bat.
In what’s peak fishing season (April by means of August for the bombil), Ajit Agarkar netted the biggie of batsmanship – a century at the hallowed Lord’s – which catapulted him straight to the extremely envied honours board. It was a scorching century, with a plop of spicy sass on the facet.
The king pairs towards Australia – he says – by no means bothered him a lot trigger his batting was not up for judgment. But when the world acquired right down to speaking about his batting lastly, there was a lot glee in the stands and again at house, even sufficient to take the sting out of India’s 170-run loss to go 0-1 down in the sequence. Many reckon the rearguard innings on the fifth day constructed the momentum for India to push to degree the sequence rating at 1-1 in the following Test.
But as standalone fritters go, the unheralded batter going about nonchalantly whacking the English bowlers was as crunchy as a counterstrike might be. Captain Sourav Ganguly had stored his shirt on this time, on the balcony (after shedding it earlier in the summer season), and spent a number of subdued time jutting his chin out on the railing because the balusters of Indian batting got here undone. He would be a part of the remainder of the crew in addition to the English opponents, as they applauded this very unlikely Test hundred from an Indian. The fish got here good when the chips had been down.
It shouldn’t have shocked the world actually. Back in town of bombils when Agarkar was nonetheless a school-boy at Sharadashram, a murmur had as soon as taken off of the “next Sachin Tendulkar” – a boy who might bat. Like a collapsing Mexican wave, it died out limply whilst Agarkar centered on bowling.
Cricketcouch.com quotes Agarkar as recalling that enjoying for CCI in a Kanga league as soon as – the place Tendulkar had turned as much as play forward of a sequence – the maestro noticed him bowl and mentioned: “I know you bat more than you bowl, but I think you should start focusing on your bowling a bit more as well.” His captain would hand the nippy pacer the brand new ball thereafter as he picked a bunch of wickets and would debut for Mumbai quickly sufficient.
John Wright in his Indian Summer memoirs remembers the primary coaching session he supervised as India coach. “A youngster started with four magnificent shots, timed to perfection. Christ, I thought, this boy can bat; he must be the opening batsman, Shiv Sunder Das. When I sought confirmation I was told, no, that’s Ajit Agarkar, our opening bowler.”
Astride the carousel of Indian cricket that moved from ‘next Sachin’ to the ‘next Kapil Dev’ as India intermittently pined after an all-rounder, Agarkar had raced to quickest 50 wickets in ODIs and was holding the bowling a part of the discount. But the batting credo had suffered by means of the Australian nightmare. Yet, when the primary Test of the 2002 England sequence arrived, Agarkar had been picked forward of Harbhajan Singh – the standard bowlers’ tussle for spots, a choice that appeared to boost eyebrows in retrospect after the Lord’s pitch unexpectedly turned and Kumble snared six.
It was with the bat although that Agarkar would set himself freed from the scrutinising glare. This was quickly after the NatWest win, and the rejuvenated Indian crew below Sourav Ganguly was making an attempt to go away its mark abroad. India had been by no means thought of nice travellers. The house crew dominated in the sport for 4 days leaving India a mammoth 568 to chase in 5 periods.
On fourth day at stumps, India’s high order as soon as once more did not get going after Wasim Jaffer and Rahul struck fifties. Agarkar and VVS Laxman had been on crease on 28 and 38 not out respectively with six wickets down.
The prod appeared to have come from Tendulkar once more.
“The thing I remember about that (final day) morning was, Sachin (Tendulkar) actually gave me throwdowns next to the pitch. I was walking through the long room when the late Raj bhai (Rajsingh Dungarpur), who used to talk in Marathi since my CCI (Cricket Club of India) days told me, “Get a hundred today and become a batsman,” Agarkar remembers, 18 years after the incident. “I said ok, Raj bhai, I will try.”
Day One had been cooler and seen the ball transfer about fairly a bit. But as the sport progressed the pitch turned higher for batsmen. The lulled Lord’s pitch and the nice and cozy climate helped batters. But Agarkar was conscious it was a matter of 1 good ball and England would drive the knife in. England acquired Laxman after he made 74. And Agarkar was left with Anil Kumble, Zaheer Khan, and Ashish Nehra.
“It was a hot day so we were trying to play out the day for a draw, because England bowlers had put in a lot in the last session on Day 4 so we knew we could hold them off,” Agarkar remembers.
England’s untiring warhorse Matthew Hoggard had sliced off India’s high order and had been hulking again to his run-up with these stomping steps, to run again in. But the Indians had been in a temper to disclaim the hosts their win by delaying. “We were hopeful if we could hang around, it was a very good wicket to bat on actually. Normally there is a bit wear and tear, and they got Laxman and soon we had an attacking field,” Agarkar says.
Ashley Giles would crowd the close-in area, although Agarkar was getting caught into the opposite pacer – Simon Jones.
His sassy yellow bat grip wielded like a golden mace, Agarkar was d isisplaying a satan could care perspective however backing that together with his unhassled clear batting strokes. There had been mild glides to 3rd man utilizing nuance of geometry, he would drive casually by means of mid on and slash imperiously over covers – a brief, broad one from Jones went aerial. Refusing to be cowered by Giles’ suffocating shut cordon, he would break away with not a care in the world.
Thoughts of a century — often the albatross across the high order’s neck — didn’t appear to weigh him down, and it was this utter lack of stress, that might push him to 60 at a great clip. In the following six overs, India misplaced Kumble and Zaheer, when Agarkar was on some 60 odd. He had Nehra for firm, who had been promoted as night time watchman in first innings however by no means acquired a ball onto his bat. But an earnest tail-ender he was, regardless of how misplaced the trigger.