Happy Birthday Jogi - The Common man of Indian Cricket!!!

As soon as Santhakumaran Sreesanth misjudged the catch and the ball fell into his hands     instead of gaping mouth, fate of Indian cricket changed forever. MSD became a poster boy in every household and was awarded the tag of “Captain Cool”, Sreesanth realized that using your hands gets you more benefits on a cricket field than using your mouth, Lalit Modia saw a vision that he would soon be referred as Moses of cricket and the seeds of the monster, IPL were sown.

But being a thankless nation, we completely forgot one pivot point which brought upon this change – the warrior, the braveheart, the maverick, the one and only Joginder Jogiya Sharma. And seeds of that monumental change in Indian cricket weren’t sowed on 24th September 2007, they were sowed on 23rd of October 1983.

Here is my tribute to him on his birthday (re-plugging an old post though)


During WC2011, when England needed 14 to win that epic battle in Bangalore where none of the two teams were willing to win, Dhoni wondered who would take the Chetan Sharma challenge. Amidst the chaos, Dhoni threw the ball to his most trusted weapon. The ball was returned back to him and he was made to realize that his most trusted weapon was discarded ages ago from his artillery. The winner of most famous Chetan Sharma contest of the decade, the never failing weapon - Joginder Sharma, better known as Jogi, was resting somewhere else which was surely not the Chinnaswamy stadium.

Before discarding my tribute to him, please go through his Cricinfo profile page which says “Joginder Sharma has a few things in common with Kapil Dev. He plays for Haryana, can give the ball a mighty thwack and has the surprise factor with his nippy medium pace. Most importantly, he has the convention-defying streak that Kapil displayed everytime he played. Joginder bowls with a mixed action and can trouble the best with his lively seam bowling. “

If there is one moment which signifies India’s WC83 win, it was Kapil’s THAT catch. If there was one moment which signifies India’s win in T20WC07, it was Sree Santh’s gaping mouth hoping that Misbah’s catch will fall in it. But on both occasions, we forget that it was the bowler who caused the mishit.

There are white marks on either side of the wickets to help umpires in deciding if a ball is to be declared wide or not. Jogi always bowled targeting those lines. Once batsman left the ball thinking it to be a wide, once umpire took his hands out of pocket to declare it a wide, the ball did move in - right at the last micro second. Batsmen watched it with open mouths, umpires with arms half open and embarrassed faces. It turned out to be a legal delivery. No run was scored of it. Jogi could do it again and again. He did it again and again. Make no mistake; Jogi was an artist in accuracy. He always fooled the umpires. He always fooled the batsmen.

He was the master of pace variations. No one can testify it better than Misbah. Whenever he ran in to bowl his run up of 15 steps, batsmen thought he would bowl medium pace. He bowled slower ones. When batsmen thought he would bowl a slower one, he bowled super slower one. Once a batsman anticipated correctly that he would bowl a super slower one, that batsman is still waiting for the ball to reach him. In fact, Jogi was straight out of Venketesh Prasad’s league - just that Jogi was more dangerous. While Prasad’s 6’3” figure helped in deceiving the batsmen – (how can u have a gigantic built and still bowl at 100kph), for Jogi it was difficult. He didn’t posses built of a boxer which forced some to think of him as a spinner. His expressions while bowling made him look like a murderer but bowling at his pace looked like pleading to be murdered. Was he a hunter or going to be hunted is something that always confused a batsman. That is where he made his money.

His built looked very frail, almost twice the size of Venkatpathi Raju. Do not think that twice the size of Raju would be something heavy. If an ant is double the size of a normal ant, it will still be much smaller than a rat. But when he was all geared up for batting, he suddenly looked like a hulk. As if he was geared up in the dress of an American soccer player. What a pity that for a batsman compared with Kapil Dev in his all round talent , he hardly got a chance to showcase his batting talent at the highest level. In fact he never batted in T20WC07.

While he was fielding - I like the way he used to sit down, present a sarcastic grin and punched the air every time he took a catch. Jogi looked more common than RK Lakshman’s common man. So when he did his celebration act, it looked like 1.25 billion common men of this country celebrating. Imagine the plight of the players in the opposition when they saw entire 1.25 billion celebrating – 1.25 billion open mouths, 1.25 billion sarcastic grins and 1.25 billion punches in the air. Imagine the scare it could send through the opposition.

It is said that for every kid born in Bihar, its politics that runs in his veins in place of blood. While his canny ability to fox a batsman won us a world cup, it was the Indian captain who got most of the credit and became an instant hero. MSD knew that a day will come when this country will recognize the real hero of that victory and on that very day, MSD will lose it all. So MSD made sure Jogi’s career died a slow death. A few matches in IPL, where again Jogi was again used as a last over trump card, and slowly Jogi fell into the oblivion. THAT final over remains his last appearance for the country till date.

But I am sure that whenever a match goes into the last over, entire country will always remember its real hero – a martyr who served the country and died in isolation. We will always remember Misbah’s scoop, Sree Santh’s gaping mouth and “the could have been star” – Joginder Sharma.


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