Gargi was an architect of batting solidity

Published: Monday, October 9, 2000, 18:23 [IST]
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Nothing succeeds like success. Nothing gives permanent success in any enterprise of life, except native capacity accentuated by honest and persevering effort. While some are naturally talented, some toil hard to acquire talent. But ultimately the measure of success is determined by the contribution one makes to the team in its hour of need. Gargi Banerji, who emerged on the international women's cricket horizon in early 1981, was the architect who provided solidity to the brittle top order Indian batting.

Great and commanding talents are gifts of 'Providence' in some way unknown to us. They rise where they are least expected. After the 1976-77 Indian team tour of New Zealand, there was a long interval of four years with no International cricket, a thing that had become common in Indian women's cricket scene. It was like a whiff of fresh air when it was announced that the England team was touring India in 1981 after a long gap.

But the best thing to happen for Indian cricket was the emergence of three players with outstanding talent at the same point of time. It was in the 1981 series against England that the Indian team benefited by the arrival of Gargi Banerji, Anjali Pendharkar (nee Gurjar) and Vrinda Bhagat. All three performed exceedingly well in the series in which all the five Tests we played ended with no results.

Gargi was undoubtedly the biggest success to happen for women's cricket amongst the "second generation" players. Anjali performed equally well with a half century each in the Ahmedabad and Calcutta Test but it was Gargi who was the long distance runner as she played for India for over10 years.

Gargi literally exploded into the scene considering that she had four half centuries in the seven innings she played against England including the One-dayers. She made her debut in the second Test at Ahmedabad in place of Fowzieh Khaleeli and never looked back from then on. Her knock of 71 in the second innings cemented her place in the side. She also had two half centuries at Chennai in the third Test and another in the last Test at Jaipur.

Gargi learnt her cricket in Calcutta. Strangely enough, when there were hardly any cricketers from West Bengal in the Indian men's team, the women's team had a large contingent of players from Calcutta in the early years. But that was no surprise as the West Bengal state team dominated the National scene with victories from 1973 to 1983 when Bombay upstaged them at Kota in the National Championship with Shobha Pandit scoring a century for Bombay.

West Bengal brought to the fore players of the calibre of Sharmila Chakraborty, Runa Bose, Sandhya Majumdar, Lopamudra Bhattacharya, Keya Roy, Mitu Mukerjee and Gargi Banerji. Bengal's contribution to the Indian team was enormous with Sharmila Chakraborty and Gargi Banerji being the best bowler and batsman amongst them.

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