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  TA Sekhar
  Madan Lal
  Shivlal Yadav
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  DK Gaekwad
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  Kiran More
  Eknath Solkar
  Madhav Apte
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  Ajit Wadekar
  Balwinder Sandhu
  Baloo Gupte
  Polly Umrigar
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Eknath Solkar (Part I)

Meet Eknath Solkar Face to Face as part of CricInfo's video/audio interview series.

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Eknath Solkar
"No.... I was able to stand because of my reflexes, my eye sight and my anticipation were really good." (On whether he felt risky standing in the close-in positions without helmets)

[ Complete profile of Eknath Solkar ]

CricIfo: How did you develop an interest in the game? Was it the encouragement of your father who was head of the ground staff of the Hindu Gymkhana just behind us?

Eknath Solkar: I was born at PG Hindu Gymkhana. My father was the head of the staff, so we had a quarters just behind the Gymkhana and i grew up there. Since I used to watch cricket from childhood, I became interested in the game. [Video | Audio]

CI: You were first selected for Test cricket against New Zealand in 1969-70 series. Could you tell us what was the background for the selection. Was there any particular performance in domestic cricket on the basis in which you were selected?

ES: No, I started my career as a schoolboy cricketer. I toured Sri Lanka in 1964 and later became the captain of the Indian schoolboys against English schoolboys. At the age of 16, I got a chance to play for Bombay in the Ranji Trophy and used the opportunity to grab the attention of the selectors. That's how I was picked to play for India against New Zealand at Hyderabad in 1969. [Video | Audio]

CI: You were initially a left arm spinner in domestic cricket. How did you become a left arm new ball bowler?

ES: During my playing days, we had spinners like Erapalli Prasanna, Chandrashekar, Bedi and Venkataraghavan. So it was difficult for me to get into spin bowling. So once when I was at the nets, Vijay Merchant asked me to try out with the new ball and I readily agreed. That's how I became a medium pace bowler. [Video | Audio]

[EAS Prasanna] [BS Bedi] [BS Chandrasekhar]
[S Venkataraghavan] [Vijay Merchant]

CI: Do you have any memories of the first time you worked out on the field while playing for India against New Zealand at Hyderabad. How was the feeling like?

ES: I was feeling proud to play for my country and was not nervous. I had prepared myself for the occasion and wanted to do well when the chance was given to me.

CI: How did you do in the match. I had read that the first ball you bowled in Test cricket, there was a catch dropped of your bowling?

ES: Yes, I remember the dropped catch. It was the catch of the New Zealand captain GT Dowling. He tried to sweep the ball which hit the bat pad and went straight to backward short leg where Venkataraghavan was fielding. He tried to take the catch with one hand and that's how the catch was dropped. [Video | Audio]

CI: Even before you played in Test cricket, you played for Sussex in the county championship. How did this come about?

ES: His Highness of Nawanagar Satish Indra Sinhji, the grandson of Ranjitsinji saw me playing cricket in Saurashtra. He asked me if I was interested to go to England and play for Sussex to which I readily agreed. I played for Sussex county for two years in both the second team and first team. I did very well in the county matches and those performances counted for getting selected for India. [Video | Audio]

[KS Ranjitsinghji]

CI: You were part of the Indian team during the three successful rubbers won against West Indies and England in the period 1971-73. Do you have any memories especially the first series in the West Indies?

ES: Yes, in 1971 we toured West Indies with Wadekar as captain. He was leading the team for the first time and we played the first Test at Sabina Park, Jamaica. I remember, India were reeling at 70 for 5 when I went into bat. With Dilip Sardesai, I shared a partnership of 137 and Sardesai went on to score a double century and I scored about 65 and we managed to save the Test match. In the Trinidad Test which we won, I took about six catches in that Test and scored 50 runs again. Again under Wadekar in the 1971 series against England we won the Test and the series at the Oval. To beat West Indies in West Indies and England in England were both brilliant victories. [Video | Audio]

[DN Sardesai] [Ajit Wadekar]

Series: [India in West Indies | India in England]

CI: Do you regard the catch that you took of Alan Knott as the best you have taken in Test cricket?

ES: Definitely yes. Because of that catch, the match turned in our favour as Knott was the most dangerous batsman during the series as he scored runs consistently. But in that particular innings he failed. I remember the catch. Venkataraghavan was bowling as Knott played a forward defensive shot and the ball was almost going down when i dived for the ball as if like diving in the swimming pool and caught it with both hands. I never knew that I took that catch, but everybody came to me and greeted me. After the catch, England collapsed. I think Chandra in the spell he bowled, got six wickets for thirty something runs and we won that game. [Video | Audio]

[Alan Knott] [BS Chandrasekhar] [S Venkataraghavan]

CI: Again in the 72-73 series you took a brilliant catch of the English captain Tony Lewis. I think he went for a full blooded sweep and you would expect most fielders to turn the back, but you didn't?

ES: Yes, I was watching the ball all along as he never played the ball so hard. The ball just brushed his bat and the ball was going behind me. My eyes were on the ball and once your eyes on the ball, you can try to go for the catch. So I dived backward and took the catch. [Video | Audio]

[Tony Lewis]

CI: In those days there were no helmets for fielding very close. Did you ever feel the risk of fielding in the short leg position and were you ever hit at any time?

ES: I got hit later on during my career. But when I started my career, I had good reflexes and eyesight. My anticipation was really good and I managed to stand close to bowlers. The bowlers were very good and accurate most of the times, except Chandra who sometimes used to bowl short pitched and full toss deliveries. Apart from Chandra, Bedi, Prasanna and Venkat were very accurate as they flighted and spun the ball, so I was never scared. Though I fielded in that position against Sobers, Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards and Ian Chappell, I was never afraid. [Video | Audio]

[EAS Prasanna] [BS Bedi] [Clive Lloyd] [Viv Richards] [Gary Sobers] [Ian Chappell]

Eknath Solkar: [Part II]

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