Hyderabad: The Indian team’s 1967-68 tour of Australia is always remembered for ML Jaisimha’s heroics in the Brisbane Test, but there was another Hyderabad cricketer in Syed Abid Ali who ruffled the mighty Australians with his all-round performance. The gutsy Abid Ali announced his arrival to international cricket by taking 6 for 55 in his Test debut in Adelaide.
Now, settled in California in the USA, the 79-year-old fast medium bowler recalled those magical moments in the Adelaide Test. “My first two Test wickets were of the Australian greats, Bill Lawry and Bobby Simpson. It is always great to capture six wickets in your first Test. It makes you proud as you are representing the country,’’ said Abid Ali from the USA.
The robust Abid Ali troubled the Australians with his deceptive pace. “After bowling on docile wickets of India, bowling in Australia was very enjoyable as there was bounce and swing. The Adelaide wicket suited me a lot. I started bowling at the last over before lunch. And the first over after lunch I came back to capture Lawry’s wicket. He was caught behind trying to play on the leg side. I got Bobby Simpson caught and bowled. I deceived Bobby with the pace. Trying to play on the ball on the on-side, he got a leading edge of my in cutter and the ball lobbed back to me.’’
Abid Ali went on to add that he always enjoyed bowling in Australia, New Zealand and England. “In Australia, there was bounce and swing. I could swing and seam the ball a lot in New Zealand and England. With some grass on the wicket, it was a joy to bowl on those types of wickets. If you hit seam on the grass, then it goes either way.’’
Talking about that tour of Australia, Abid Ali said that there was a lot of controversy when ML Jaisimha was dropped and then picked after BS Chandrasekhar was injured. In the famous Brisbane Test, where Jaisimha stole the show, Abid Ali was in the middle when his fellow Hyderabad player hit that magnificent 101 in the second innings.
“I opened the innings in the third Test at Brisbane with Farookh Engineer. I hit 47 in the score 50 and out-batted Engineer. I entered the field again as a runner when Chandu Borde was injured and Jai was on 30 odd. In fact, when I was entering the ground, Lawry objected to my coming as runner, but the umpire overturned his appeal.
“I always had a good understanding with Jai as we played together for more than ten years in Hyderabad. I ran fast between the wickets and took short singles. Jai got his 100 and when the innings finished as the Australians were coming back, Lawry was asked why did he stop me? He then said I was quicker than anyone in the Indian team. This compliment coming from this cricketer gives you a great feeling.’’
Abid Ali added: “A lot of people criticised me for letting them run out. It is not my fault if I run fast. However I had a perfect understanding with three batsmen — Jaisimha, Sunil Gavaskar and Eknath Solkar. They understood me and I understood them, but others were slow in running between the wickets.’’
Abid Ali said he was mighty impressed with the Indian pace duo of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohd Shami. “I like their attitude. They are aggressive and fast. Their key to success is their line and length. The Indian pacers excite me a lot.’’
On young Hyderabad pace bowler Mohd Siraj, Abid Ali said he should be more disciplined in his bowling. “He can trouble the batsmen as long as he sticks to good line and length. If he tries to bowl fast and become erratic, he is sure to be punished as the Australian batsmen are good at pulling and cutting the ball.’’
He signed off by saying it will be a battle between pace bowlers as Australia too has good speedsters. “But it is a good sight to Indian pace bowlers hurrying the Australian batsmen.’’
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