Cricket connoisseur Jeffrey Archer plays the write line

PTI  | Deccan Chronicle

Sports, Cricket

During their days at Oxford, Archer would often bump into Pataudi at university’s sports club Vincent’s.

English novelist Jeffrey Archer (right) is all smiles as he poses with Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar and his wife Anjali in this file photo.

Leeds: From young Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi’s steely determination after his terrible car accident to Anil Kumble’s dignity and Virat Kohli’s level headed approach, Jeffrey Archer’s pristine love for Indian cricket remains intact.

The best selling English author is keenly following the World Cup. For him, current Indian skipper Kohli is level-headed and intelligent and Kumble’s dignified stance during the ‘Monkeygate scandal’ is a lesson for one and all.

Archer, the creator of the famous Kane and Abel series, had also written a short story Century, whose main protagonist many believed, was based on Tiger Pataudi. “I have been very privileged to have known Nawab of Pataudi, when we were both studying at Oxford and we remained friends through that time. Quite recently, I had done a big charity auction for his wife (Sharmila Tagore) and daughter and I admire them both,” Archer said.

During their days at Oxford, Archer would often bump into Pataudi at university’s sports club Vincent’s. “I was an athlete and I captained Oxford and ran for Great Britain. We met at Vincent’s. He was very aware of my love for cricket. I have been a passionate follower of cricket all my life,” said the former British MP.

Tiger Pataudi’s grit after his car accident fascinates Archer to this day and he fondly remembers the man whom he calls “last among old fashioned amateurs.”

“When Tiger had that accident, I had assumed that he would never play cricket again. I underestimated his amazing character and determination. He was the last among old fashioned amateurs, who wouldn’t just give up and go away. He just got on with it. The fact that he was able to play the game at the world level was staggering and made him a great hero at Oxford, someone whom we all looked up to,” he recollected.

He has over the years interacted with the top Indian cricketers from Tendulkar to Kohli. “I have more recently met Virat Kohli and found him a very level headed intelligent captain, who I think is going to break all the records in the book,” he felt.

But while the Tiger’ remains a sentimental favourite, Archer admires Kumble because of the way he conducted himself after Harbhajan Singh faced sanctions for his alleged racist abuse of Andrew Symonds. “Well, Kumble is one of the best captains, we have ever seen. I thought his behaviour in Australia when (Ricky) Ponting was the Australian captain, was an example to all of us. He behaved with such dignity that he became an example.”

One of his favourite Test matches is the epic clash between India and Australia in Kolkata, back in 2001. “VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid remained at the crease one whole day and it remains one of the greatest Test matches ever played. Both Dravid and Laxman are serious readers and I found them to be very intelligent people,” Archer remembered.

So do all cricketers read your books? “Cricketers? Yes but their wives even more so. I mean Tendulkar’s wife, Kumble’s wife have been passionate supporters (of my work),” he said.

He was in India recently for the Jaipur Literature Festival and was “extremely touched” to find around 7,500 people coming to hear him speak.

He has started a new series on William Warwick, the eponymous hero of Hary Clifton, the writer in his earlier series Clifton Chronicles. “I am doing a seven book series on William Warwick, His journey from a constable to commissioner of Metropolitan Police,” the 79-year-old signed off.