Diana Edulji, God's gift to women's cricket

Published: Thursday, August 24, 2000, 18:23 [IST]
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With her increasing success with the ball, she sort of ignored her batting towards the latter half of her career. But her talent with the bat remained, amply demonstrated when she played a stroke filled innings in Australia, which included a sixer of a fast medium Australian bowler, in the disastrous1991 Indian tour of Australia. As if to prove that she could be better than her teammates, if warranted.

Diana's utility to the team was accentuated by the fact that she could bowl on any type of wicket and had the ability to bowl in any situation. While most bowlers lost heart on being hit, she developed the habit of taking things in her stride and mastered the art of bouncing back.

She hated to lose. She would go to any extent to win. Even in the seventies when people talked of playing the game in true spirit, she would not hesitate to play the game as per the laws of the game, spirit be damned!

In the Delhi Test against Australia in 1975, when India was on the verge of what looked like defeat, she "Mankaded" Susan Chapman at the bowler's end in a match which ended in a nerve tingling draw. Set to score 121 runs to win, the Aussies were 118 for 9 at close of play, having lost two wickets in the last mandatory over bowled by me. This was one match where Diana had to play second fiddle to me as she captured 2 for 32 against my 5 for 54.

In the 1976 Bangalore Test against West Indies, the ball dropped out of pacer Peggy Fairweather's hands and fell near the non-striker. Diana ran to the ball and hit the stationary ball to the fence for a boundary. Looking at today's cricketers, such acts will be considered as traits of professionalism, where as on that occasion it was described as violating the spirit of the game by none other than Lala Amarnath.

If I had to vote on the most accomplished bowler of India, my vote will always be cast in her favour. Damn the statistics, or the lack of it. I have seen her capture all the hundred wickets playing for India and no one deserved it more than her.

Admittedly, Diana belongs to the select group, which is not liked by the establishment. Successive committees tried to dislodge her but she retained her place by sheer dint of performance. Till they found one alibi which she could not help, age!!!

Diana, notwithstanding her many critics, has been god's gift to Indian women's cricket. Many detractors try to diminish her performance by citing unofficial status of some of the Tests India played during the early times. But that is a biased opinion, born out of considerations beyond the realm of the game.

One can't help saying "Hats off to you Diana for your consistent performances and perseverance despite big hurdles".

May her tribe increase.

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