~~Umrigar will figure in all-time Indian team~~

Published: Wednesday, November 8, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Mumbai:Indian cricketers and officials today paid rich tributes to the ex-India captain and great batsman Polly Umrigar, who passed away here on Tuesday night.

Polly Umrigar belonged to that rare tribe who excelled both as a cricketer and an administrator and the former captain would figure in everyone's all-time Indian team, said BCCI President Sharad Pawar.

''As a national selector, manager of the India team he had been hailed as a fair man with an incisive mind. He would figure in everyones all-time India team. His greatest contribution to Indian cricket came as an administrator when he steered the Board of Control for Cricket in India as its Executive Secretary at a most crucial juncture. It was the time when the Board was expanding its cricketing activities with the first flush of sponsorship money,'' Mr Pawar said in a statement.

''An unassuming gentleman, he had been a regular at every major cricket game or function in Mumbai and we missed him the other day when the Board entered its new headquarters at the Wankhede Stadium and also as one of the former captains who were honored on the occasion.

''Everyone noticed his conspicuous absence at the Champions Trophy matches at the Cricket Club of India which was his second home. But none of us thought the end was so near as he had battled a terminal disease with fortitude,'' he explained.

'Polly donated blood to save Contractor': Former India captain Polly Umrigar slipped into pages of history, fighting as he was a fighter all the way on the field of cricket, said former India Captain Chandu Borde.

Condoling his death, Borde recalled his association with Umrigar, fondly known as ''Kaka'' among his teammates and cricketing fraternity.

''The most outstanding incident of Pollys (Umrigar) cricketing career was when former India opener Nari Contractor was hit on the head in the Barbados test in West Indies'', said Borde walking down the memory lane.

''Polly along with three others, namely late Frank Worrell, Bapu Nadkarni and myself gave blood to save the life of contractor'', he said.

While Umrigar was fighting his last stage of lymph cancer in Mumbai, Borde along with former National Committee Chairman Raj Singh Dungarpur visited him.

''Polly was touched by our presence. He cherished many memories on the field with us'', said Borde.

''He (Umrigar) loved to call me ''Chan''. So when I entered his hospital room, he greeted me as ''Hi Chan''. He held my hand for 40 minutes. He was a thorough gentleman'', Borde added.

'Polly was a great teacher': Sunil Gavaskar, who was the one who broke most of the batting records set by Polly Umrigar, today in his tributes to the all time great of Indian cricket, said that he learned a lot of lessons from Umrigar.

Speaking to reporters after paying his last respects to Umrigar at the Parsi Tower of Silence, Gavaskar said ''I have learnt so much from him that I can't pinpoint one particular thing. He once told me that I try and take my first run too early. He told me to take at least the first few runs safely.'' Gavaskar said that though Umrigar had achieved so much in cricket he hardly spoke about his feats.

''The only time he spoke about his cricket was when discussing strategies on how to get people out. Even that was a great learning experience,'' added Gavaskar.

'Umrigar's death part of' 'cup of woes': Batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar today described the death of former India captain and cricket legend Polly Umrigar as part of ''the cup of woes for Indian cricket''.

Paying rich tributes to Umrigar, Tendulkar said, ''Indian cricket is already passing through a bad phase, and the death of Umrigar is part of this cup of woes''.

''The time is not good for Indian cricket and the passing away of Umrigar is another sad event. He was a great cricketer and even more importantly a perfect gentleman'', he said.


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