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`Too valuable to hold on to'



Ashok Shinde is all smiles as he offers a special gift to Tony Greig

THE SHINDE family is a well-known cricket enthusiast family of Bangalore. The late Shinde brothers — Basappa, Mallappa, Yamunappa and Ashok — were cricket lovers. They believed cricketers who played well needed to be appreciated and encouraged. That is how the idea of presenting silver cricket bats and balls came up, recalls Prakash Shinde, son of Mallappa Shinde.

Two silver bats and silver balls were presented in 1973 at the Brabourne Stadium, Bombay, to outstanding players in the match between India and England. Prakash says G.R. Vishwanath scored a century in the first innings and was a close contender for the bat, but for Farokh Engineer who scored a little more in the second innings. And Farokh was also a great wicket keeper, perhaps the best the country has ever seen, Prakash points out.

In that match, while Mallappa presented a silver bat to Farokh Engineer and Ashok Shinde presented a silver bat to Tony Grieg, Yamunappa Shinde presented a silver ball to B.S. Chandrashekar and Narayan B. Shinde presented another silver ball to Derek Underwood.

The presentations were made in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Basappa Shinde who also followed the game closely.

But why did the auction of the bat come up at all? "Farokh said the bat is one of its kind in the world. He ensured its safe keeping in a bank, but was paying heavy insurance on it. He said it was too valuable for him to hold on to. That was the only reason why he decided to go in for an auction."

Reacting to the bat not getting the expected bid, Farokh Engineer, who lives in Englad, has reportedly said he would consider a private sale if the bat did not fetch a good bid at the auction. Going by Christie's assessment that summers are better to auction cricket memorabilia, he might just wait for summer.

Says Prakash: "We will consider it lucky if there is someone who can buy it for 10,000 eventually. It would mean the person values that work of art and would like to preserve it. It will confirm the value it carries in terms of its history." He recalls that the great Don Bradman's cap fetched 35,000!

G.N.P.

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