By Jude Dias
India has finally garnered the long awaited title of the ICC One Day World Cup Cricket Champions with finesse, which warmed the hearts of millions if not billions worldwide at this victory. Team India showed tremendous team spirit with the men in blue excelling in bowling, fielding and then batting, with the stupendous Captain’s knock of 91 Not Out by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, which provided added entertainment bonus to all.
Earlier two super power cricket nations India and Pakistan met in what was billed as the greatest, much awaited and mouth watering showdown at the semi-finals of the ICC One Day Cricket World Cup stage at Mohali.
But as the hype, hoopla and cacophony of this super-mega event built to a deafening crescendo, it was easy to miss a Goan’s contributions in international cricket and that too for the Pakistan National Team namely Mr Antao D’Souza. Born in Goa, Mr D’Souza represented the Pakistan National team among other teams in Test and First Class cricket since his debut in 1959. He was a Medium Pace bowler and tail end obdurate batsman. Mr D’Souza toured England in his last match in 1962, heading the batting averages of 53 as he remained not out in 5 of his 6 innings.
Speaking to this writer, Mr D’Souza who is now settled along with his family in Ontario Canada, it is hard not to compare the past and the present scenarios hovering over this sport that sportingly, politically or diplomatically brings both nations, once one but now divided, interestingly enough and somehow together as they root for their respective proud nations.
Asked what his greatest memory of his cricketing career was, Mr D’Souza stated that it was his first test match in February 20, 1959 versus the visiting West Indies team at The National Stadium in Karachi. "I was very proud and happy representing the country as also my parents and brother, family was there to see me in action," he said and "In those days there was no TV, Internet and other media, so watching an international match live was indescribable," he added.
Queried on why he chose to represent Pakistan instead of India, Mr D’Souza explained that this was due to the then Partition of the country in 1947, when his father decided to migrate to Pakistan as did many Goans and Indians for that matter. An alumni of the St Patrick High School, in Karachi, or ‘Patricians’ as they were called, this school boasts of famous personalities, past and present of the likes of Lal Krishna Advani, the Late Cardinal Valerian Gracias, former Archbishop of Bombay, Muhammad Khan Junejo, the 10th Prime Minister of Pakistan, and also Pervez Musharraf, the 10th President of Pakistan among a long list of writers, sports, intellectual and other luminaries who passed through the portals of the famed school.
Mr D’Souza originally from Nagoa, Salcette, Goa also represented Pakistan International Airlines (his employer) as well as the Karachi Cricket Association. Mr D’Souza had a right hand batting style and bowled Right Arm Medium and Right Arm OffBreak. In his 6 test matches 3 against West Indies and 3 against England, he bowled 1567 balls scalping 17 wickets, while in First Class matches he scored 815 runs, bowled 11,738 balls with a haul of 190 wickets. According to Mr D’Souza his best stats were 5 for 112 in tests and 7/33 in first Class matches. During the England Tour in 1962 his bowling was however ineffective, as was others on that disastrous tour which Pakistan lost 0-3.
Asked to comment on the standard of cricket then and now, Mr D’Souza observed that "The standard of cricket is still high. However today there is no rest for the players given the increased number of matches, competitions, events being played. Back then they were fewer events," he added. This actually mirrors this writers comments in various forums as the ICC has now decided to whittle down the number of participating countries in the future One Day World Cup Cricket slug fest.
Prodded to comment on the touchy issue of incomes, revenues incentives players get then and now, Mr D’Souza disclosed, "We were paid ` 10 per match in those days but we loved it and played for the spirit and the love of the game." This is a mere pittance compared to the now astronomical income and sponsorship deals that players command which this writer thinks has actually watered down the game making it a commercial affair.
Mr D’Souza who is married and has four children migrated to Canada in 1999 and stated that there is now some awareness of cricket in the North American country, with Canada’s inclusion in the ongoing one day event. In Canada the popular sports are usually ice hockey, baseball and American football.
For the books Mr Antao D’Souza is the second Goan after Wallis Mathias to play for Pakistan in International Cricket. As this great sporting event winds down in this part of the Indian Subcontinent, it is apt to ponder on the fact that with over a billion citizens India has yet to hold sway on this sport and many other sports too, the way Australia has had a stranglehold on the glittering trophy for a record four times. What Team India needs is a whole hearted attempt at transparency in selection processes, and where the players do not play for record shattering attempts at personal glory but rather for the masses and the country.