Indians don’t value opposition spinners and treat them like street bowlers. No matter how big a star that spinner is Indian batsmen will dance down the track and hit him out of the park. This has been a general belief amongst cricket fans. But how did it all begin? At the root of this belief lies the answer – Navjot Singh Sidhu, the eternal transformer.
The first thing any Indian fan would recollect about Sidhu (apart from the incident where he chased Aamer Sohail, with a bat in his hand) is the decimation of super spinners like Shane Warne and Muttiah Murlitharan at the hands of him.
His USP was going down the track and hitting the ball huge in the long off to long on region. Navjot Singh Sidhu was the brightest star in the Indian batting lineup for a long time. He started his India stint in 1983 against the West Indies but he gained major attention during the 1987 ODI world cup, where he scored 4 half centuries in 5 matches.
After a forgettable start to his career and a critical article by a famous sports journalist, Sidhu reincarnated as a cricketer. He was called ‘the strokeless wonder’ in that article but as Sidhu introspected his game and came out a refreshed batsman during that 1987 world cup, the same journalist took his words back as he showered praises on Sidhu, giving him a new title ‘Palm grove hitter’.
This was when we started to see those famous sixes off the spinners. Ask Shane Warne or Muralitharan and they will tell you that Sachin Tendulkar was not the first batsman that proved to be a nightmare for them.
Navjot was the mainstay of Indian batting in the early 90s and in fact was the first Indian batsman to score 5 ODI centuries. He was dropped in 1996 but being the fighter he is he came back and on the West Indies tour of 1997 and played his biggest innings in a test match; a double century (201).
This was the time when Sidhu went into yet another transformation, this time as a fielder. He was once questioned by his kids about his not so good fielding and that shook him. He started diving and chasing to stop the ball. He turned into a brilliant fielder and was fondly called Jonty Sidhu (reference to Jonty Rhodes) in the team.
He retired in 1999 but that was not the end of him. In many ways, it was just the start of the man. Navjot Singh Sidhu never fails to surprise us by his talent and skills. He took up commentary and changed it forever.
The one liner, the hard hitting descriptions and his impeccable hold over the languages made him a class apart. The world started following ‘Sidhuism’. His oratory skills took him into politics as well and he became an able member of parliament too. His comic skills are on display on the television as well. He is a one man army.
He is the superman of India. He has donned uncountable hats and with so much success. Such is the charisma of the man that people have made careers out of just imitating him. And he is a poet by heart. It is impossible to find so much in one soul but hen that is how he is different.
Wishing a very happy birthday to the most colorful cricketer, writer, anchor, commentator and motivator to many. Singh Singh Singh Sidhu.