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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Cricketer turned Taxi driver ~ is that not sad ?

This is trending the media now – and  me too thought of joining the bandwagon and writing something on this.  The post as seen in vikadan.com naturally led me to think of this Cricketer who was a rabbit with the bat having scored just 298 international runs in 157 matches – but excelled with the ball taking 123 test wickets and 140 ODI wickets in a career spanning 14 years.  In 1975 in a Test match, at a time devoid of helmets, this no. 11 was hit on the temple by Peter Lever, fell unconscious.  English physio Bernard Thomas fortunately realised that he had swallowed his tongue, flicked it back to place and ensured his survival.

This post is about a man who played 9 tests took 32 wickets and 56 in 58 One dayers. The tall Arshad Khan played his last ODI against India at Rawalpindi stadium in Feb 2006 and his last test at Chinnaswamy stadium in Mar 2005 which Pak won by 168 runs.  In the 2nd innings, he had figures of 14-8-21-2 that of Rahul Dravid and IrfanPathan. 

Cricinfo player profile reads that – for  two reasons, Arshad Khan shouldn't really be an offspinner; one, he is from Peshawar, traditional home for fast bowlers and two, he is tall enough to be one.  A year after his debut he took 5-38 and helped Pakistan beat Sri Lanka in the Asian Test Championship final at Dhaka. He was then in and out of the Test side till 2001, when, after a Test against England, he was overlooked for a further four years. But a strong showing in Pakistan's domestic championship earned him a recall for Pakistan's tour of India in 2005. He was only picked for one Test, the final one in Bangalore.    He played ODI no. 2235 at Kochi and had figures of 6-0-33-4 – wickets of Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, MS Dhoni and L Balaji. 

There is another player - Gurinder Sandhu, Indian-origin pacer who made it to the Australian ODI team.   Sandhu, playing  for New South Wales and Sydney Thunder, was rewarded for his showing in the Big Bash League. Decades  ago, Gurinder’s father shifted from village Hardialeana in Faridkot (Punjab) to Sydney and became a cab driver.

The post in vikadan mentions that the tall offie who played for Pakistan, Arshad Khan has since shifted to Australia and is a cab driver now. He reportedly is working for Uber and drives taxi at Sydney.  An Indian who occasioned to travel in his taxi, realised that his driver was in fact an International cricketer and has posted photo and details on his twitter account.

Now getting back to the man in the first para – it is Ewen Chatfield, a hard-working, accurate fast-medium bowler who, like his contemporary Richard Hadlee, seemed to get better with age. Ewen Chatfield had an unforgetable Test debut against England at Auckland in 1974-75, but for all the wrong reasons. After a stubborn defensive innings at No. 11, he was struck on the temple by Peter Lever. His heart stopped and he swallowed his tongue and only mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and heart massage by Bernard Thomas, England's physiotherapist, saved his life. He was rushed to hospital and, thankfully, regained consciousness an hour later. He was recalled in 1976-77, when he bowled steadily and industriously. Overshadowed by Hadlee, he nevertheless formed an effective an opening partnership with him for a decade. When Hadlee was injured in 1987-88 against England, Chatfield took 13 wickets at only 15 runs apiece. He was awarded an MBE for his services to cricket.

During his playing days, Ewen Chatfield was known as the Naenae Express ~and in his later days the former New Zealand bowler  became a taxi driver.  NZ Herald had a detailed article on this cricketer turned cabbie few years ago. 

In the cricket crazy Nation such things cannot happen to one who played 43 Tests and fairly successful pairing with the most iconic player of that country. One  can't get over the fact that he drives a taxi. Chatfield has seen hardship at times, but he is a satisfied man with no complaints.Chatfield was also a man who very rarely appealed. Not for him the backslaps and the send-offs. "I might have missed a few by not appealing."

India was never the place for him. His first time there, during the 1987 World Cup, he became the final victim in Chetan Sharma's hat-trick, and in the same match got hit for 39 in 4.1 overs. Sunil Gavaskar scored his only ODI century,a fiery one, in that game. In another tour, he fell ill.

After retirement, he tried his hand in coaching – he is quoted as saying - "There was no income. I got frustrated that I couldn't do enough in summer without killing myself to make up for that." And just like that he called Corporate Cabs, because he "liked driving around". He got the licence and was employed. In between he has worked as a courier, a salesman at a chip shop, and has driven a dairy van. He is not in touch with any of his team-mates. He claims he doesn't get nostalgic, doesn't watch old tapes ("I haven't even seen the 50-run partnership with Jeremy Coney, against Pakistan, to win the match"). There's no bitterness either.

It reads to be an extraordinary life in a normal manner.  Strange are the ways of people ~ and back home, every mother wants their son to become Sachin, grind them in camps expecting that they end up in IPL !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
2nd Sept, 2015.


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