At the world level, Imran Khan is the 1st International cricketer and world Cup winning Captain to be a Prime Minister. Football has PSG, Man City, AC Milan and Chelsea striker George Weah who became President of Liberia. 5 time Olympian Ryoko Tani, called by many as best female Judoka ever, is a Member of Parliament in Japan. Chess great Garry Kasparov and running legend Seb Coe are involved in active politics in Russia and England.
Boxing has 3 examples globally. Pac-Man Manny Pacquiao, the only 8 division world champion in history, who has won 11 Major titles is a Senator in Phillipines. Russian Vitaly Klitschko, a successful heavyweight boxing champion who won 45 out of 47 bouts, including 41 by knockout is the current Mayor of Kiev. Dictator Idi Amin too was a national level boxing champion.
In India we have Olympic medallist Colonel Rajavardhan Singh Rathore as a current Union Minister. Leading sportpersons in politics are Boxer May Kom, hockey legends Dilip Tirkey and Aslam Sher Khan, national swimming champion Nafisa Ali and football Captain Prasun Bannerjee.
We also have many cricket players who have jumped into the political arena, so much so that we can have our very own Indian Politician-Cricketer 11. Here it is, in batting order,
We have 2 successful Indian Openers in our Playing 11, current ministers Navjot Singh Sidhu and Chetan Chouhan.
Sidhu played 51 tests and has 9 Test tons. He has also played 136 ODI’s and has played for India in the World Cup as well. Sidhu became a successful TV Commentator and is well known for his one-liners. As a politician he is a 2 time BJP MP from the Lok Sabha. He was also Rajya Sabha MP briefly but resigned, joined the Congress and is at present an MLA and Minster in the Punjab Government.
Chetan Chouhan , 2 times MP from Amroha is also currently Minister in the Uttar Pradesh Government. He played 40 Tests for India, and opened with Sunil Gavaskar against fearsome attacks.
We have a very strong middle order with International stars Mohd Azharuddin, Sachin Tendulkar, Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, Mohd Kaif and Vinod Kambli in contention. Unfortunately Only 4 of the 5 can be in the playing 11.
Azhar who still has the record of 3 consecutive tons in his 1st three Tests captained India 47 times out of the 99 Tests he played, in which he had 22 tons. He has been Congress MP from Moradabad and is expected to contest the 2019 elections from Secunderabad.
Sachin was a nominated Rajya Sabha MP for 6 years from 2012 to 2018. He will bat at Number 4 which was also his preferred spot in his 200 Test career.
Tiger Pataudi will come in at 5. At 21 he captained India and remained the youngest Test captain for over 40 years till the record was taken by a younger Tatenda Taibu. The Nawab will captain this team as well. In his electoral battle in 1991 at Bhopal, despite Sharmila Tagore, Kapil Dev and Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi campaigning for him he lost to BJP’s Sushil Verma. Earlier in 1971 when Indira Gandhi had abolished the privy purse he had contested elections from Gurgaon on a Haryana Vikas party ticket, but was not successful.
Kambli and Sachin had a 664 run world record stand as schoolboys. They played International cricket together but Kambli despite an electrifying start which included back to back double hundreds and reaching 1000 test runs in 14 innings faded away. His brief career saw him have 4 test hundreds and 2 ODI hundreds and he played his last test at only 24. Ironically his average is 54, and someone looking at stats alone will feel why he was dropped. He will bat at Number 6.
Kambli contested Assembly elections as a candidate of the Lok Bharati Party from Vikhroli, Mumbai but was not successful.
Mohd Kaif who was the Under 19 world cup winning captain before playing Tests and ODI’s for India is in the squad but loses the Number 6 spot to Vinod Kambli. Kaif is part of one of India’s most famous wins ever when his 87 in 75 balls partnered Yuvraj (69 in 63) from a precarious 146/5 to chase a gigantic 325 in the Natwest final, which led to huge celebrations including a shirt waving Sourav Ganguly, which will be a lifetime memory for most of us.
Kaif contested from Nehru’s constituency Phulpur in the 2014 Parliamentary elections but lost to BJP’s Keshav Prasad Maurya.
Kirti Azad comes in at 7. He was a member of the 1983 victorious World Cup winning team. Kirti who played 7 Tests and 25 ODI’s is the son of a former Chief Minister Bhagwat Jha Azad. His political career started by winning the Gole market assembly seat from Delhi in 1993. He is a 3 time MP from Darbhanga and is a current Lok Sabha MP.
Manoj played 39 Tests and 130 ODI’s and is a rare cricketer who could both open the bowling and batting. He has a Test hundred and 2 ODI hundreds. He also has 5 wicket hauls both in Tests and ODI’s which shows his utility. Sanath Jayasuriya’s destructive batting probably hastened the end of Prabhakars career which ended with the 1996 World Cup.
Prabhakar joined the Indian National Congress and contested for parliamentary elections from Delhi constituency in 2004. However he was not successsful.
Ranjib Biswal, a handy batsman and fastish off spinner who could also bowl seam up and keep wickets has 5 1st class tons and over 150 1st class wickets as well. He was the captain of the Under 19 Indian team and led India to Asia Cup win. He has a ton versus the great Waqar Yunus. Ranjib was a Ranji, Duleep and Deodhar trophy regular for a decade from a schooolboy cricketer at 15 before becoming a 3 time MP. He had the rare privilege of being sitting Lok Sabha MP to be captain of a Ranji team when he played versus Bengal and retired from cricket at only 25. Ranjib was also a National selector and the Manger of the 2011 World Cup winning side. Currently he is Rajya Sabha MP from Odisha.
Ranjib will be the wicketkeeper of the team, one of the many allround qualities he had as a cricketer. He will come in to bat after Manoj Prabhakar.
Chetan Sharma started his test career with a wicket in his 5th ball, that of Mohsin Khan. For me his high point in career was his 16 wickets in 2 Tests in England, which India won 2-0. He also took a hattrick in the 1987 World Cup. Low point for millions of Indians would be Javed Miandad hitting a last ball six off him at Sharjah.
Chetan too like Manoj had a try at Parliamentary elections. In 2009 he contested from Faridabad on a Bahujan Samaj party ticket but could not succeed.
Sreesanth is the final member of the team, completing the bowling trio with Manoj Prabhakar and Chetan Sharma, with Kirti Azad as the spinner. Sreesanth catching Misbah-ul-Haq and India winning the T20 world Cup 2007 is a memorable memory. He was also in the 2011 world cup winning team and played the final. He played a role in a rare and remarkable Test win in South Africa. As of now he is fighting a legal battle in the courts with BCCI handing him a life ban.
Sreesanth was the BJP candidate for the Assembly elections from Thiruvanthapuram in 2016 but lost to the Congress candidate.
Praveen Kumar is one of the best swing bowlers from India. He played 6 Tests and 27 ODI’s and one of the highlights of his career was India winning tri-series in Australia 2-0 where he played a major role in both matches. He will be the back up to our quick bowlers, and being an international player ( like Kaif) is unlucky to miss out on the playing 11.
Praveen has joined the Samajwadi Party under the leadership of Akhilesh Yadav. He is expected to contest elections soon.
Laxmi Rattan Shukla
Laxmi Ratan Shukla has played 3 ODI’s for India. An all-rounder, he bats well and is an effective medium pace bowler who was a stalwart for the Bengal Ranji team. He was a sought after IPL player as well. He will be the back up for the allrounder spot occupied by Manoj and Chetan.
Currently he is an MLA and Sports Minister for the Mamata Didi Government in West Bengal.
Kiran Kumar Reddy
Kiran Kumar Reddy , former CM of Andhra Pradesh is the only non 1st class cricketer but makes it to the team due to his wicketkeeping skills. He was the U-22 Hyderabd Captain of a team which had Azhar as a batsman. Those days sponsors were not available and when Azhar played his 1st Test the kit was presented by Kiran. He is the the back up wicketkeeper.
The final members of the squad are two young politicians , both of whom are sons of former Chief Ministers.
Anurag Thakur played one Ranji match for Himachal Pradesh when he was HPCA President. As a cricket administrator his rise was swift and he became Secretary BCCI and then BCCI President as well. His father Prem Kumar Dhumal was CM of Himachal Pradesh. Anurag is current Lok Sabha MP from Hamirpur. This is his 3rd term.
Tejaswi Yadav played a Ranji Trophy match and 2 List A games for Jharkhand. The right arm bowler and right handed batsman was also in the Delhi Daredevils squad for 4 seasons but did not plan any IPL Game. Son of former Chief Ministers Lalu Prasad Yadav and Rabri Devi, Tejaswi was Deputy Chief Minister in the Nitish Kumar led Government for 20 months.
Hence the team is as below
Openers – Navjot Sidhu and Chetan Chouhan, Middle order- Azhar, Sachin, Tiger Pataudi ( captain ) and Vinod Kambli ( back up Mohd Kaif who will be the 12th man), Kirti Azad as the spin bowling allrounder, Manoj Prabhakar as the pace bowling allrounder, Ranjib Biswal as the wicketkeeper and Chetan Sharma and Sreesanth as the quick bowlers.
The other members of the 17 member team are Kiran Reddy ( reserve keeper), Praveen Kumar and Laxmi Rattan Shukla ( reverse quicks ) and Anurag Thakur and Tejaswi yadav ( reserves)
If I have missed any cricketer, do point it out as comments and feedback.