They loved to call it “brave” and “strong” at the crease. But Yashpal Sharma didn’t like it at all. He said: “I can also play shots and I can score at a faster pace. But I am often entrusted with a role to which I am attached. If that means I have to go to sleep in the fold, I don’t mind. I have to play for my team. Simple. But I was more than brave.
We’ve had countless conversations around his staff and its relevance to the order of things. And Yashpal always ran into a cricketer who didn’t seem happy to be called ‘brave’. He was particularly angry to be denied recognition for his contributions to the World Cup. He reluctantly made friends, but once he did, there was no better person than Yashpal to admire.
READ: 1983 World Cup-winning cricketer Yashpal Sharma has died
His death left some of his 1983 teammates shocked, some in tears, others speechless. ” I do not know what to say. I am speechless, ”said Kapil Dev. In fact, Kapil refused to believe that Yashpal was gone when Sunil Valson broke the news to him. “What? Are you sure?” Kapil would not share the news in the Whatsapp group of the 1983 World Cup winning team. Kirti Azad needed to brief his teammates on the sad development.
The strongest of the group
Madan Lal, emotionally attached to Yashpal, struggled. “What to say? Younger than me, he was one of a kind. Always willing to walk the path alone, he never gave up. Why has he given up now? Unbelievable. He was the fittest of all. between us, a teetotaler, very disciplined. “
Yashpal was indeed the fittest of the group. “You know. I walk daily. I exercise daily. I eat light but healthy foods,” he said during our conversation recently. Yashpal was happy to have organized his son’s education in England “I can relax now. I made my best investment in his education,” he said on his return from England in June.
Indian cricketer Yashpal Sharma with his parents and brother in New Delhi on August 16, 1980. – Hindu archives
A mid-order drummer of immense resilience, Yashpal was a man of few words. ” I like listening. It doesn’t cost, ”he joked. Yashpal, however, harbored a sense of insecurity and this was reflected in his staff as well. He was going to focus on his first 25 runs. He was taking great care not to lose his wicket prematurely. “I never had a sponsor and had to do my best to keep my place.” So Yashpal would strike in phases – careful, very careful, and then released. You can divide its sleeves into different parts depending on the rhythm of the scoring.
READ: Gundappa Viswanath remembers ‘gritty cricketer’ Yashpal Sharma
I have often reminded him of that century in Delhi against Australia in 1979. “The most critical rounds of my career,” was his response. Yashpal had collected a “pair” in the previous Test in Kanpur and was visibly under pressure. In nine rounds since his debut at Lord’s, he had only half a century under his belt. He was haunted by this feeling of insecurity. He dropped anchor and forgot to play shots. “I knew I was going into a shell but I knew I would lose my place if I didn’t do runs. Yashpal crawled into his first 50s, then went berserk, preying on leg spinner Jim Higgs, crushing him for some six to herald his first century of trying.
Playing his shots
Yashpal learned to play his moves from this scene. He wasn’t the most attractive of drummers, but he was the most reliable in the middle order. A batsman who won his wicket for the bowlers. Why did he feel insecure? “I don’t know. I always felt like a loner in the team. I always had to fight for my place. Always? Even in the State Bank of India team?
Zeeshan Mohammad, a SBI teammate and friend of Yashpal for more than two decades, remembered him as a helpful person. “He was organizing nets and refreshments for us. Lead coaching classes for team members and never showed the tunes of an international cricketer. He loved the cookie tea we had the most and was always available for our league matches. His presence was such a motivation. He often said that SBI work was his bread and butter, ”Zeeshan said. Yashpal later had to quit his job when he was transferred to Haldwani. “There was no cricket there,” he lamented.
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi greets Yashpal Sharma at a reception ceremony following India’s 1983 World Cup victory. – Hindu archives
MP Pandove was his mentor in the Punjab. “He came to see me as a teenager from Ludhiana and in two years he was playing first class cricket. He was a compact and complete drummer, with a very good temperament. He was also very respectful of the elderly and never failed to touch your feet even after becoming an international cricketer, ”Pandove recalls.
Yashpal was a brilliant hitting player who often had to put the brakes on his shots. He was strong on his legs and played the cover drive with a lot of style. His defense was organized and above all he never flinched in front of the bowling court. He could play hook and pull to make an impression on bowlers and backed up his stick with exceptional fielding.
the badam shoot
For Kirti Azad, her longtime friend, two memories marked Yashpal’s career. “His innings of 89 in the opener against the West Indies in Manchester were a lesson in skill. It opened the door to the World Cup for us. And then the blow against England in the semi-final, that six-shot (Bob) WIllis. And of course Allan Lamb’s exit when Yashpal took him out with a direct hit after a good 30 yards to the short, thin leg. Yashpal was a kind soul. I can never forget his talent for arranging vegetarian food for us on overseas tours.
Yashpal Sharma was a national coach. In the photo, he is seen with committee chairman Krishnamachari Srikkanth and then Indian captain MS Dhoni. – Hindu archives
Among Yashpal’s roommates was Kiran More, who also had fond memories. “I was really lucky because he was good at guiding young people. He made me sleep early and got me up early. He would recite his prayers and treat me to a small portion of dried fruit. He carried almonds, gave me four and kept four for himself. He told me that almonds were good for building strength. And Yashpal was so good at producing the big hits, known as “badam (Almond) ”shots among his teammates.
We met at the Press Club. “I’ll only buy you a drink.” I don’t want to spoil you Raje, ”he warned. Raje was her favorite word to express affection. Other times our meetings would be in restaurants where he would love “coffee”. He wanted me to write his retirement letter and the announcement was made in a small restaurant in East Delhi in the presence of a handful of journalists. Yashpal was very picky about the food he ate and the company he needed off the field.
Sad to hear the news of yashpal Sharma .. had the opportunity to work with him as captain, player and then on TV. A very important part of the 1983 victory which showed that young players like us dream of trophies..RIP
– Sourav Ganguly (@ SGanguly99) July 13, 2021
Yashpal represented Punjab, Haryana and the railways and served as referee, coach and media expert after leaving active cricket in 1992, falling to Narendra Hirwani of Madhya Pradesh in the two innings of his farewell match at Palam, signing with a 56 on 63 balls that had five fours and three sixes. Not “just a brave” but a “punch” against an opposition led by his World Cup teammate Sandeep Patil.
Yashpal has never failed to remind his friends of the importance of fitness and good eating habits. He never gave himself up either. He was excited about the ‘83film and the book Opus in achieving this epic triumph. Too bad the fittest member of this great team returned from his morning walk and collapsed at home. Yashpal left us too soon. He was 66 years old.