By Clayton Murzello
MUMBAI: In the space of four Thursdays, world cricket lost the batsman who made the 1986 Tied Test so memorable and the commentator, who described the final ball of the epic match held at Chennai’s Chidambaram Stadium.
On September 24, Chennai 1986 double centurion Dean Jones, 59, succumbed to a cardiac arrest. On Thursday, sports scribe snd commentator Kishore Bhimani, 80, left for Elysian Fields after a cerebral attack.
His book, India’s Caribbean Adventure, documents the historic 1975-76 series which saw India’s great win in Trinidad where the Indians crossed a 403-run target and the bloodbath at Kingston. Of the Port of Spain victory, Bhimani wrote in Sportsweek’s World of Cricket: “There were many opinions about who really won the match for India. Apart from the fact that it was a team effort, there is no gainsaying the fact that it was Sunil Gavaskar who first picked up the gauntlet playing aggressive though sensible cricket and made it possible for the later batsmen to realise that victory was possible.”
Of the Kingston Test where West Indian Michael Holding’s pace was too hot to handle, Bhimani wrote in the same publication: “The fact is that in sheer desperation [Clive] Lloyd had asked his bowlers to use short, rising deliveries far more than is permitted by the laws or spirit of the game. That great bowler Holding was used as a weapon of terror, bowling a number of spells round the wicket to right handers.”
Bishan Singh Bedi, India’s captain on that tour, tweeted on Thursday: “RIP Kishore Bhimani. He was one of the good old fashioned cricket writers who took cricket writing like a player who takes to playing…condolences to his spouse Rita and son Gautam.”
Bhimani occasionally wrote for Mid-Day and one remembers him covering a part of the 1996 India v England Test series as well. His contacts were far and wide. He was instrumental in getting the cream of international cricket—past and present—to grace a double wicket tournament held in Kolkata as part of the golden jubilee celebrations of Rajasthan Club on February 16, 1984.
The star cast included Sir Garfield Sobers, Wesley Hall, Sunil Gavaskar, Imran Khan, Javed Miandad and Dennis Lillee, who according to a Sportsworld magazine report, was urged by Tony Greig to experience playing at Eden Gardens.
Bhimani was a great host, as former Test all-rounder and fellow Gujarati Karsan Ghavri recalled. “Be it a Test match, Ranji Trophy game or even a festival match, there would always be a party organised for us by Kishore and his wife Rita. Kishore, in a way, was part of the Indian team on tour,” said Ghavri, recalling Bhimani’s presence on the 1977-78 and 1980-81 tours of Australia as well as the 1979 tour of England where the Indian team played a four-Test series and the World Cup.
His willingness to use his contacts for good causes is best illustrated by Jyotsna Poddar, who put together the book, Cricketing Memories in 1987 which had the best names in the game recalling their funny moments. The proceeds of the publication went to a fund aimed at helping retired cricketers. Sir Donald Bradman, who by then had stopped writing Forewords to books, agreed to pen one because of this noble reason. Meanwhile, Poddar paid a rich tribute to Bhimani: “Whether it was the West Indians or Australians, the Pakistanis or the English, Kishore was always running after interviews as cricketers do after runs.”
The game’s practitioners will not forget Kishore Manubhai Bhimani; ditto his contemporaries and junior colleagues in the media. And the game of cricket itself will say, “He was a friend of mine.” (With inputs from Debasish Datta. Courtesy: Mid-day)