Hosting the Indian cricket team in New Zealand

Author: 
Bal Anand

Bal Anand was born in 1943, in a village about 20 km south of Ludhiana, in a family of saint-scholars who practised Ayurveda. On graduating from DAV College, Jalandhar, he did his Masters in English Literature from Govt. College, Ludhiana. After a stint for a few years as a lecturer, he joined the Indian Foreign Service. Having served in nine different countries he retired as India’s High commissioner to New Zealand. Now he reads, reflects and writes in his nest in Delhi, on the East Bank of Yamuna.

During my limited overs innings as India’s High Commissioner in New Zealand—May 2002 to November 2003—I had the most pleasant privilege of hosting a reception at my official home, called ‘India House’, on December 4, 2002, in honour of (Dada) Saurav Ganguly-led Indian cricket team. The Indian team had arrived on the tour of New Zealand for the final round of warm-up matches in preparation for the Eighth ICC Cricket World Cup, 2003 organized by the International Cricket Council (ICC) and to be hosted jointly South Africa, Kenya & Zimbabwe in February-March 2003.

 
Reception for the Indian cricket team at India House in New Zealand in 2002.

Reception for the Indian cricket team at India House in New Zealand in 2002.

 

At the gala reception, I had included the release of a special souvenir publication as a tribute to the sport of cricket — the baffling British Empire sport of ‘glorious uncertainties’. I feel convinced that this is the solitary sport celebrated much more deeply, piously — after the Empire has long ceased to be — for its rare spirit; extraordinary metaphors / myths and an amazing magnificence of the games of subtle imagination in the minds of commentators and spectators!

I have the pleasure to invite the readers of this website to click the link below to peruse the publication, perhaps the solitary such maiden and the last ‘ball’ endeavor by an Indian diplomatic mission in the world: http://diplomat.anandweb.com/2015/08/megha-rajdootam-december-2002.html

 
Megha Rajdootam, a publication released in tribute to the Indian cricket team in New Zealand in 2002.

Megha Rajdootam, a publication released in tribute to the Indian cricket team. Click here to download as PDF (22.5 MB).

 

The reception function had turned out to be a memorably lively affair — the guests could not ask for more — with the dazzling Indian cricket stars including legendary Sachin Tendulkar actually landing among them!

I spoke about the great game of Indo-New Zealand friendship in terms of the opening column titled ‘Runs of memories’ in the publication released by the chief guest, the Right Honourable Jonathan Hunt, M.P., the Speaker of the House of Representatives of New Zealand.

The proceedings were indeed lit up by the hilarious commentary full of cricket anecdotes by the speaker who must have been a player and a keen observer of the game.

The Gujaratis among the local community were enthusiastic in bestowing a special attention and affection on the then ‘baby of the team’, teenager Parthiv Patel; the promising wicket keeper batsman on his surprise maiden outing abroad.

The event appeared to have generated an atmosphere of an enjoyable game, outside the 22 yards battle pitch!

To my surprise, John Nellie, a veteran New Zealand cricketer and Director of NZ Cricket Museum presented to me a copy of the four page luncheon invitation letter by the British Sportsman Club to the Indian cricket team of 1952 led by V. S. Hazare. The readers would love to read a copy of it (attached below).

 
The luncheon invitation letter extended by the British Sportsman Club to the Indian cricket team led by V. S. Hazare in England in 1952.

The luncheon invitation letter extended by the British Sportsman Club to the Indian cricket team led by V. S. Hazare in England in 1952. Click here to download as PDF (3.5 MB).

 

We certainly wonder how time has transformed the character of the game as well as the destiny of the Republic of India and Great Britain!

Comments

Cricket is much more than a game in India - great to read this memorable account!

You almost took us to the event Sir.

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