In the fifth test match of the 1958/1959 series between India and West Indies, a gentleman by the name Chandrakant Gulabrao Borde scored 109 and 96 runs in the two innings. And had it not been for the hit wicket with his score at 96 runs, he would have emulated his idol Vijay Hazare’s feat of scoring a century in both the innings of a test match.
“I had hit the ball and the ball went for four but while turning I just hit the bails”
Recalling that innings many years later, Chandu Borde (as he was called) in an interview to Wisden India had said, “In fact, in the second innings, I had hit the ball and the ball went for four but while turning I just hit the bails. That is the most memorable moment of my career”.
Borde went on to play 55 test matches for India and played a crucial role in many famous Indian victories. He started as a batsman and then with his leg break became one of India’s leading all-rounders. His record of scoring 1,604 first-class runs in 1964-65 season remained an Indian record for more than 50 years before it was broken by Cheteshwar Pujara in 2016-17.
Post retirement he served Indian cricket in various capacities and has been a true servant of the game. He has been a selector, manager and a pitch curator. He was the manager of the Indian team in the 1989 tour to Pakistan which is now famous as Sachin Tendulkar’s debut series. Not many would know that he is also a certified MCC coach.
I first had the privilege of meeting him at his home in Pune last year while doing the research of my book - ‘A Colonel Destined to Lead’ on Col. CK Nayudu. Later on I met him again when I had gone to thank him for his support and to present my book to him. He had given me some wonderful stories about Col. Saab.
“So, if a match got over in less than five days, we wouldn’t get the entire money”
Talking cricket with him was a delight. He mentioned how the following of the game had increased multifold since his playing days and the media had played a big part in promoting the game. Unlike many other cricketers of his generation, he doesn’t see any harm in cricketers doing advertisements as long as it doesn’t affect their game.
These things have brought in money in the game which is good for everyone involved. Recalling his playing days, he said, “We used to get Rs. 250 for a match and it was on per day basis. So, if a match got over in less than five days; we wouldn’t get the entire money”. In fact he said, once even though India had won the match, their fees of the fifth day wasn’t given as the match had got over in four days.
“Sports has changed and people can actually make careers from it”
It will be difficult for people of our generation to understand this. As he rightly said, “Sports has changed and people can actually make careers from it. Outlook has changed and no one will mind making money”.
So, I asked him what had got him into this game. He said, “I was very enthusiastic about cricket. I had a love for the game. Irrespective of whether I was young or old, I still like to be associated with the game”. It won’t be wrong to say that in the past, love for the game was the only reason which got people into cricket.
And I could see many trophies in the living room which did justice to Borde’s love for the game. Arjuna Award & CK Nayudu trophy stood out among the other trophies. I asked him about the CK Nayudu trophy and he said, “I was very much elated to get the award. I am very happy that BCCI has recognised CK’s work. It’s a great tribute to the person and also the game”.
Since he had seen players across generations, I could not resist him asking his favourite player. He thought for a moment and gave a detailed answer. “When I was a player, Vijay Hazare was the best. During my days as a selector, it was Sunil Gavaskar and as a manager it was Sachin Tendulkar”, said Borde.
After this enchanting discussion, I left his house and promised to return back once my book got published. So, after my book was launched, I travelled to Pune the next day and he was happy that I came to give the book to him.
And today again, when I called him to wish him on his 84th birthday; he seemed pleased. He asked me what I was up to these days. I thank this great servant of Indian cricket and will always pray for his good health.