Asaduddin Owaisi was a medium pace bowler of promise during his college days. He used to open the bowling attack for the Osmania University team. In 1989, during the Inter-Varsity tournament, OU was up against Bangalore University whose pace spearhead was Venkatesh Prasad. Owaisi’s six-wicket haul helped OU won the match and become the zonal champions.
The Hyderabad MP follows the game as passionately as he did then. In the first of our series of interviews with non-cricketers with a cricketing past, Filter Kaapi moved away from the usual political fare to quiz Asaduddin Owaisi about his love for the game and who he thinks will shine for India this ICC World Cup in England.
Sudhir : Along with our win in our first game against South Africa, MS Dhoni’s wicket keeping gloves have become a subject of controversy because of the insignia of `Balidan’ printed on it. That is the regimental dagger insignia which represents the Para SF, Special Operations Unit of the Indian Army attached to the Parachute Regiment. Now ICC has asked BCCI that he should remove it saying it is against its regulations. What’s your take on it?
Owaisi : We really do not know the terms and conditions between the ICC and the BCCI as part of the World Cup. It is for them to throw light on it. It is the World Cup. The BCCI should come out and state what is the matter. I am not in a position to say anything on it because I do not know the details.
Sudhir : One journalist has tweeted asking “Cricket or country. Let us make our priorities clear. Mine is country. Yours?” Do we need to create such a jingoistic narrative around something which is a technical matter of an insignia and about ICC rules during a World Cup.
Owaisi : I am more interested in India winning the World Cup. And one thing I am sure about is that India cannot win it without MS Dhoni. We need this person to come good, in wicket keeping, in batting and above all, with his reading of the game.
Sudhir : Having been a cricketer yourself, how closely do you follow the game now or does politics give you no time to sit and watch matches at leisure.
Owaisi : I read the newspapers especially articles written by Ayaz Memon and Pradeep Magazine. In my younger days, R Mohan used to be a favorite. `Sportstar’ was a magazine I used to read regularly along with Competition Success Review and Illustrated Weekly of India.
Sudhir : Did you in your growing up days while you were also playing, have posters of any sportspersons on the walls of your room?
Owaisi : No, never had any posters.
Sudhir : Did Akbar also play cricket?(Akbaruddin Owaisi is Asaduddin Owaisi’s younger brother and Leader of the MIM in the Telangana Legislative Assembly)
Owaisi : No. But he was a very good football player. He used to play for the Hyderabad Public School team.
Sudhir : You were a key member of your University team.
Owaisi : Yes, I was the opening bowler. The victory against Bangalore University in which I took six wickets, helped us win the zonal championship. I got selected for the South Zone University team.
Sudhir : Since you played cricket till University level, do you feel if not for politics, if not for law, you could have pursued cricket as a career?
Owaisi : I don’t think so. It is a wrong question to ask. We do not know where life’s journey will take you. You plan something but God has something else in mind. No complaints really, Sudhir. I never thought I will reach this stage, this position in life where I have reached today. But yes, I love the game. I am nostalgic about the people I played with, players like Zakir Bhai, Ehtesham bhai, Masood. They all played for South Zone. And my captain, D Suresh who is now an IAS officer of the Haryana cadre.
Sudhir : How do you assess India’s chances in England?
Owaisi : We have a very good team. We have fantastic fast bowlers, two quality wrist spinners, good batting line-up and above all, we have the great Dhoni. On that day, the team has to play perfect cricket with everyone pitching in. We have had a good start to the tournament so it should go well ahead.
Sudhir : In 1983, I recall India was called the dark horse by the Australia captain Kim Hughes. Quite surprising he saw something which no one else did. Do you see a dark horse this time? Could it be Bangladesh or West Indies?
Owaisi : The only team I am supporting is India. I am not concerned with any other team. For me, the dark horse is India. I hope they win. But one Virat Kohli or MS Dhoni cannot win for you, everyone has to contribute.
Sudhir : June 16 will be the most anticipated clash of the World Cup when India play Pakistan. Do you expect a lot of fireworks. The media hype, you can be sure, would make it seem as if we are going to war.
Owaisi : It is only a cricket match. Every Indian would want the team to win. Our best wishes to them. But it is not a matter of life and death. One wins, one loses. We should not build pressure on the players, after all they are humans. Let them play freely, let their talent express itself. I am against this unnecessary build up though I am sure the team is used to this kind of hype.