The Legend of Sir Aggie

49 Comments

India has been blessed with great talents in the 90s, pace bowlers breathing hell, fire and brimstone. There was Srinath, of the whippy action, who would throw his hands up in the air whenever the ball was creamed past point with a “I would have caught that you slow-moving fielder” and seemed to be still grumbling about it, as he round-armed his throws from the deep. There was Prasad with his slow and slower ball  about whom it has been said that many of his deliveries, like light from distant stars, have not yet reached the batsman many years after he released them from his fingers. There was Debashish Mohanty, all gangly arms and legs,  Harvinder Singh, Abey Kuruvilla, Doda Ganesh, David Johnson, Thiru Kumaran—a line of carving stations at a sumptuous Vegas buffet, that would get batsmen from across the world melting in their own saliva.

And yet above of all them was this one man. A colossus. A legend. My personal favorite.

Sir Aggie.

The fastest to get 50 wickets in One Day Internationals. A century at Lord’s. A match-winning 6 wickets in Australia. Great corkers, like that late-leaver which bowled Kallis. Montages like this.

But the thing about Sir Aggie, as in what makes him special, are not those glorious moments, few and far in between as they are. It is how he went from one of those moments to the other— the pleasure, as they say, of his journey.

An important match on. India has set the target. Opposition chasing. First spell of Sir Aggie. 5 overs for 18 runs and 2 wickets. Second spell. 2 overs for 11 runs. Some reverse-swinging. All good. Now it is the 46th over. The game in balance. Project submission due tomorrow. I have spent the whole night awake.

India has to win, to make it worth the pain.

And then Sir Aggie comes in for his final burst. Like the crack of doom.

Short and wide. Cracking square-cut. FOUR. The legend is just getting warmed up. The second. Overpitched. FOUR again. The next ball. WIDE. Down the leg side. The third ball gets the batsman one-run as Sir Aggie gets it into the blockhole. The fourth ball he misses the yorker, it becomes a full-toss. SIX straight into the crowds. Next one is hustled to deep-square leg for two. Captain moves fielders around, brings up fine-leg. With an impish delight, Sir Aggie spears it down the leg-side. FOUR. Game over, folks. Required run-rate is now 3.5 off the remaining with the only suspense being which of the two opposing batsmen hit the winning runs.

96 overs. Wasted. No sleep. Anger gurgling up like lava from the pits of Hell.

Sir Aggie has come through. Yet again.

What made Sir Aggie so brilliant, and this I have realized after years of experiencing joyous teeth-gnashing , was his sense of timing. Lesser geniuses would have had their meltdowns earlier in the innings. At least then I could have gone to bed earlier. Lesser talents would have given a string of bad performances forcing them out of the side for good. But no. Sir Aggie..he was never like that.

He was always mixing things up. Good with the bad. The holy with the naughty. Which made sure that he would always be in the team. Yes sometimes they would drop him but then, like a lingering tune that drives you mad , he would be back.

With that whippy, flappy run-up of his. Easy, measured. And that pace. Consistent throughout his career, unlike some of the new wannabes who drop their speed after a season or so. It was almost as if Sir Aggie wanted to bring his gifts to the batsman as fast as he could, like Santa on Fedex Next Day Delivery, and then run back to his mark and return with another loaded sled.

Santa Claus. No. Sometimes I saw him in something even greater. Like when he would walk out to bat during that amazing sequence of seven zeros, like the Son of God trudging towards Golgotha, carrying his bat like a cross, wearing a helmet like a crown of thorns, amidst the taunts of the spectators. The Australians would crowd him like Roman soldiers, their eyes gleaming with the delight that comes from inflicting pain on the innocent. Then he would be mounted on the cross, his hands and toes nailed to the wood, to be crucified. Not once. But again and again. Zero after zero. And yet each time he would walk out, knowing well the inevitability of  his crucifixion . Such was his passion that he cared not, except to look upwards and say silently “Forgive them oh Father, for they know not what they do”.

Sinners love their friends. But only the truly heavenly love their enemies. Like Sir Aggie.

Which is why I was saddened to hear of Sir Aggie’s dropping from the Mumbai team. For a second, my faith wavered. Is it all over? Have the forces of darkness finally won?

No.

Because I believe. Sir Aggie will be back. Like someone else was resurrected three days and three nights later on a glorious Sunday.

And only then will those who had come to scoff remain, once again, to pray.

[Image courtesy: Rediff.com]

 

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49 thoughts on “The Legend of Sir Aggie

  1. hi… may or may not be the first one to post a comment…
    You missed out Sir Aggie special the fastest Indian ODI 50.
    And “I have a feeling” (like Ravi shastri) that Sir Aggie will be back not just in the Mumbai team but maybe in the Indian team as well

  2. you know your critics and cynics so well, gave all the goods done by Aggie first and then went on a bashing spree..

    Is the match you referring to the 99 World Cup opening encounter against South Africa? even there he had a similar outing against Rhodes when he gave some 16-18 runs that turned the match in South Africa’s favor.. though he had some talent, couldn’t agree more with you on his timing.. his flashes of brilliance were far and few in between & more often than not he got on to our nerves..

    very aptly summed up, not sure which IPL franchisee he is with but you will surely see him for some more time, directly or indirectly causing you that infuriation..

  3. All this is okay but tell me what the fuck have you done in your pathetic life to criticize him. He has at least tried and made it to India XI. You sit on your fat ass all day and write dumb blogs. Wonder if you even have a real job? If so, how the fuck do you get so much time to write this shit. Get up your ass and do some real work. People in the states pay you for working and not puking garbage on internet in what you call blogs.

  4. Yeah right, people in the states driving world currency and economy are dumb enough to pay this fat ass to write dumb ass blogs about someone as glorious as the nation itself that is paying No.One like you for enjoying puked garbage on internet.

  5. Haa.. those good old days of early 2000!! IMO, Sir Aggy should be also credited for the only int’l tie between India and Pakistan. Where Aggy Sir’s 1st over- 5 runs, 1 wicket, 2nd over- 6 runs, no wicket, 3rd over- 7 runs, no wicket! And then 4th over (19th over of the match)- 17 runs, no wicket!! :-D

  6. Nice post indeed. Till date, I don’t have a clue as to how this guy could bowl consistently at 135+ kmph with his 5 ft plus something & 45 kg body.
    @No one, if you don’t like it, go find some other place to bark.

  7. Talking of Aggie’s exclusionn from Mumbai team, I want to point out something which many here might not know and which though might be out of context here as well—that Avishkar Salvi is Sulakshan Kulkarni’s protege while Aggie is not…on another note, very sad to see talent like him wasted, whether due to his own mental frailty or otherwise

  8. Again…its your blog…you can choose to write about anything you wish to… but why him? I mean most of us forgot he ever played for India.. or even KKR

  9. Agarkar was actually one of the most entertaining players to watch because of his unpredictability. He could do serious damage with his bowling or could gift the match to the opposite team…no one could tell. He could score the fastest 50 or score only single digits for consecutive matches.

    Btw if you feel ’96 overs. Wasted.’ just because india lost, then you’re not a real cricket lover.. just a fan of indian cricket team? Watching cricket.. no matter what the outcome is never Waste of time ;)

  10. I will forgive Sir Aggy for everything just because of his 6 wkt spell in Adelaide. Contributed to one of the biggest victory in Indian Cricket history

  11. The list of great Indian fast bowlers is incomplete without Subroto Banerjee, Salil Ankola , Bhupinder Singh Sr and the left armer from Gujarat/ Baroda who was chased by Raman Lamba with a bat in a Ranji Trophy game.

    We all have our pet peeves. I can understand yours but I forgave Aggie after Adelaide. Sab Khoon Maaf.

  12. @Prasun Banerjee …u talking about rashid patel..when did he play for India? and btw, it was lamba who was chased by patel, with a stump in one hand,not the otherway round

  13. I am glad that for once, you gave him at at least some credit for his achievements. Otherwise you seem to have a perennial grudge against him.

  14. Have you all forgotten he raised his bat when he scored his first run in Australia…!!! :) the feeling of pride that he must have had at that moment must have certainly surpassed the one that he might have got on Lords….!!

  15. Really mean-spirited write-up, laced with your typical timepass humour. Agarkar is among the Top 25 wicket takers in ODIs at a very decent average. He may have let us down a few times (like some of our greats), but hasn’t done anything pathetic to deserve such a ruthless writeup. From a Ranji Trophy POV he bowled Mumbai to victory a couple of years ago,and even Zaheer spoke in his favour after he was excluded.

    Pointless personal grudges should not inspire you to write stuff like this. It is easy to impart cynicism and bitterness through your writings, specially when you write against someone who despite having above-average achievements in international cricket, seem to the favourite scapegoat of the media.

    P.S. You had a taunting line for Srinath as well, the fastest bowler India ever had. You’ve probably forgotten or choose to ignore how well he has served the nation. Belittling others is easy, wins you easy brownie points. But that should not let you get carried away.

  16. Well said Roulette.
    All said and done, Aggie still is/was among the top 20 in India in his chosen profession. That says a lot about the quality of the rest half a billion males…

  17. Guys!

    When you come and play cricket at International Level, you expect him to be good. The article was not cementing Ajit Agarkar in the league of Ashish Kapoor or Abhay Kuruvilla; it just said about the kind of promise the lad showed all his life but delivered so very little. It was JUST not for him to be successful for a long time I believe or he was destined for lot of inconsistency thru out his start stop career.

    If you were content with players like Agarkar, India would never been a threatening force that it is today. Flash in the pans do not have the longevity in their legs to be long term winners, which was pretty much the case with Agarkar.

    If you want to take heart from the fact that AA was better Harvinder Singh or closer home, yours truly, good luck to you and feel free to orchestrate an Ajit Agarkar fan club.

    From pure cricket lovers perspective, he was an overall let down for the kind of promise he shows occasionally and fails to deliver so frequently.
    GB was spot on, the moments he chose to let loose his doom was infuriating to say the least.

  18. brilliant arnab – meanwhile the glorious tradition continues – the latest addition to these hollowed individuals – R Vinay Kumar & A Mithun sometimes I wonder how we discover these super “talents ” !!

  19. Wow Hagarkar does have his share of fans, what a worthless over-achiever. the fact that he is on the top bowlers list says a lot about our illustrious fast bowling history.

    nicely written GB, speaks for all of the mid-late 90′s bloomers, who’s winning aspirations were often nipped by greats like Haggie.

  20. Arnab, Sir Aggie ko chhodo, tell me have you watched the movie Loot? The Third edition of Chhote-Prabhuji’s Mahima in this sansaar?? Watched a little bit on TV but obviously, do not have your verbosity to describe what I went through. :)

  21. GB, For all his faults, he was still a very good cricketer- A geunuine atheletic fielder- superb arm & damn good catcher too.Remember one match in Sharjah where we were bowled out for smthing below 200- Agarkar came steaming in & bowled out SRILANka for below 100…his only fault was he leaked runs..but the poor bloke did take wkts..unlike some like our Bhajji who survived in the team for so long on purely reputation.

  22. Can’t one enjoy a satirical piece on a cricketer without his fanboys divebombing in to spray shit all around? Jeez! Go have your cookies, kids and dial down the rhetoric a notch or two.

  23. I remember he won us 1 match against Sri Lanka in Sharjah. Robin Singh made 12 in 26 balls and it was Agarkar who bailed us out with 26 in 12 balls. Some of the 6′s he hit were Jadeja’esque in fluidity and effort. It can be said that he was the most mercurial indian cricketer ever. Lord’s century, fastest 50 wickets beating lillee’s record , fastest indian 50…and those 6 wickets in adelaide…..and then those matches where he gifted runs …7 zeros..etc.

  24. Greatbong, I think you are being a bit too critical of him. Aggie was good. Until Zaheer 2.0 arrived, he was by far the best seamer in India. He still clocks 135 ish. His problem was that he thought he clocked 145 and bowled like that. Srinath was exactly like that until he got to learn some tricks from Prabhakar after Kapil retired. Some people need more coaching than others. Aggie would have benefited the most from a bowling coach for John Wright himself says that Aggie and Sairaj Bahutule were ppl that worked hardest in the nets and the best fielders in pre Yuvraj-Kaif era. On that fateul 99-00 trip down under I delt that Aggie bowled much better than what the figures suggest. He also consistently dismissed Jayasuriya in his prime.

  25. I have a funny feeling you ate a bowl of sarcasm before starting on this one particularly… well to me sir aggie will always be the man with the BIGGGG ears….
    waiting for your book

  26. A bit bad taste.

    I have been frustrated watching these matches too but think about the guy who missed on greatness after coming so close just because of nerves.
    I disapprove of organized sports in how it treats the people who tried and failed.

    Essentially, your post is about a career that could not take off – those wasted hours you spent away from your textbooks were your own choice and the thrill of organized sports is this uncertainty.

    Won’t it sting if someone coming to this blog and leaving dissatisfied summarize your entire career in a post as a half-start? THere’s a difference between incisive humour and cheap laughs.

  27. So Good to read about aggie after such a long time. The good ol’ days. But atleast he used to mix things up. keep us glued till the end. Unlike now. Day 3 and its over.

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