Hyderabad: ML Jasimha. The very name brings back nostalgic and sweet memories. The swagger while walking to the crease or the elegance that personified his batting were the signature styles of the Hyderabad legend. As the Virat Kohli-led Indian team embarked on yet another tour of Australia, one can go down the memory lane of Jaisimha and his romance with Brisbane Test of 1968. Rejected by the selectors and then picked as replacement for the injured leg spinner BS Chandrasekhar, Jaisimha had his bat talk literally as he got down from the plane and struck 74 and 101 which nearly shook the mighty Australians.
Those two knocks forced the famous Australian cricket writer Jack Fingleton to comment: “Jaisimha is naturally a good cricketer. He must be so to bat so assuredly today after not even one good net practice.’’
Former Australian leg spinner Bill O’Reilly described Jaisimha’s class subtly and had a dig at the Indian selectors for ignoring the Hyderabad stylish batsman initially for the tour. “Indian cricket must be possessing riches if it could afford to overlook a performer so abundantly gifted as Jaisimha.” Australia just managed to beat India by 39 runs after the Jaisimha show in both the Indian innings.
“It is nearly 52 years old and cricket lovers still talk and remember that knock. I feel proud for my boy,’’ said Jayanthi Jaisimha, wife of the Indian batting legend.
Remembering the journey of her husband’s Australian trip in 1968, Jayanthi said Jai felt very bad when he was not first picked for the tour initially. “I could see the pain and disappointment. But he took that in stride and when he got the news he was flying to Australia as a replacement, he was all geared up. Believe me when he landed in Australia, the whole night he was awake with Tiger (Pataudi) discussing on how to handle the Australian attack.
“Jai did call me and I was very happy for him. We celebrated his century. Jai was Jai. He knew how to celebrate it in his own style.’’
Former pace bowler D Govindraj said Jaisimha was one of the big surprise omissions when the national selectors announced the team to Australia. “We had a camp at National Defence Academy (NDA), Khadakwasla. I was in a shock when he was not in the team. We all thought he would be named as vice-captain to Tiger Pataudi. I was also expecting to tour Australia that year. I could see the disappointment in Jai’s face. But when Jaisimha was named as replacement, we simply told him, `Go skipper get a hundred in Brisbane’ when he bowled to him at the nets prior to the trip. I could see his determination and he silenced everyone with his brilliance at Brisbane.’’
Jaisimha always got runs whenever he borrowed the bat from PR Man Singh. “It was no different. I gave the bat and rest was history. Incidentally whenever he took the bat from me, he got runs. In fact there was disappointment but late Ghulam Ahmed had given me a hint that Jai could be called to Australia and so he asked me to keep him prepared. We had organized nets at Gymkhana with fast bowlers like Habeeb, Govindraj to bowl to him. I could see the determination and sadly after that Brisbane Test, there were no performances for the rest of the tour. But the two Brisbane knocks are still remembered till date as there was class and style.’’
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