Nilima Joglekar, every inch a team player

Published: Sunday, October 1, 2000, 18:23 [IST]
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When I got my first century for India at Pune in 1976, I distinctly remember two persons who ran on to the middle to congratulate me. One was Nilima, not yet in the Indian team, and the other one was Mr Edulji, Diana's father.

The Indian team for the World Cup at New Zealand in 1982 was named without announcing any deputy to me. In the absence of a vice-captain, I inducted Nilima and Gargi Banerjee, two great thinkers of the game, in the Tour Selection Committee. Both were young and I felt that they may one day lead India and hence needed the exposure.

Nilima was an automatic choice as the first keeper for the 1984 Australian tour of India. Fowzieh had quit by then and Nilima established herself with good scores and great keeping. The best knock of hers was the unbeaten 48 off just 34 balls in the Pune One-dayer that we lost with just a ball to spare.

After the 1984 Australian tour of India, I was dropped for the 1985 New Zealand tour of India, as the WCAI wanted a scapegoat to counter the players' demand for better allowances. Even though veterans like Diana Edulji and Shubangi Kulkarni were available, the selectors took a bold step and named Nilima the captain.

In her very first outing as the captain of India, Nilima scored 68 runs. The series was successful for her with India registering its first One-day victory against New Zealand at Indore when the latter was beaten in a low scoring match with Nilima excelling with the bat.

Just when it appeared that Nilima had established herself as a captain, fate dealt her a cruel blow as she fractured her hand half way through the series and she made way for Diana to lead for the rest of the series. That series also happened to be the last one for Nilima, who was married in 1983, as she became unavailable for the 1986 England series and thereafter.

Nilima was a batsman who got runs aplenty but it went unnoticed as her batting, like mine, was devoid of style but effective as far as run getting was concerned. She was brilliant as a keeper but tended to be flashy at times. She was a brilliant fielder and took excellent reflex catches at close in positions.

Every inch a team player, Nilima was the first to propose measures that would benefit the team. As late as 2000, she proposed that seniors like Diana, Shubangi, herself and myself should organise training camps for the current Indian team to equip them for the World Cup scheduled later this year. But I remained lukewarm to the idea as I did not want motives to be attributed to a sincere thought.

Nilima's ascent to the most coveted post in any game, the captaincy of India, is a memorable one filled with lot of hard work and dedication. Thatscricket.com salutes this dedicated cricketer who always placed team above self, a rare breed in today's world.

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