Thane: Former India cricketer Salim Durrani was felicitated by ICC president and NCP chief Sharad Pawar here at a function last evening.

Even as former international cricketers who played alongside him recalled anecdotes of Durrani, the 76-year-old cricketer took the opportunity to thank the BCCI for bestowing on him the CK Nayudu Lifetime achievement award recently.

"The BCCI gave me the CK Nayudu Lifetime achievement award at the right time. Along with fame, money too is important," said Durrani, who had received Rs 15 lakh from the Cricket Board.

Going back memory lane, the stylish left-hander who played for India in the 1960s and 70s and was known to hit a six on demand, said that his habit of trying to please the crowd had cost him many hundreds.

"Many a times I got out in the 80s when I should have got centuries because of this," he said.

Durrani, who represented India in 29 Tests scoring 1,202 runs at an average of 25 and took 75 wickets, recalled the exploits of Col Nayudu in a domestic match that he played while representing Rajasthan in 1958.

"I played against Colonel Sahab, who was 64 at that time, for Rajasthan. He was representing Uttar Pradesh in the match at Benaras. In our team we had great players like Subhash Gupte and Vinoo Mankad. I remember him hitting two sixes in that knock including one from the backfoot off Mankad that went out of the stadium."

Former India cricketer Chandu Borde, who was Durrani's room-mate when the two played together for the country, recalled the left-hander's popularity and magnanimity.

"Being his room-mate was a great responsibility, whether I should live in the room or not was a big question. Such was his popularity with both the genders."

"We used to receive Rs 250 in those days. He (Durrani) used to be in the company of 'Maharajahs' and some of their generosity rubbed on him too. He gave treat to his friends even when he could not afford to pay the hotel bills. The hotel owner who used to get smitten with his charm allowed him to go without paying the bill," he said.

Former India skipper Ajit Wadekar, who led the country to back-to-back series victories in the West Indies and England, recalled Durrani's contribution in shaping up India's first Test win in the West Indies in 1970-71.

Brought on to bowl at a crucial stage of the second Test, Durrani dismissed Garfield Sobers and Clive Lloyd, two of West Indies most formidable batsmen, in quick succession. India won the Test by seven wickets, and maintained their 1-0 lead to take the series.

"I didn't get too many opportunities to bat with him. Whatever chances I had, I was mesmerised with his batting. But I had to always tell him to keep his calm and not lose his
wicket getting swayed by public's demand(for sixer)," he added.

Prior to the function, Pawar, who is the incumbent Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) president, said he was yet to take a call on contesting the upcoming MCA polls and that he would announce his decision at an appropriate time.

"There is still time for it. I will let you know about my decision at the right time," he said.  "I have not filled my nomination form as yet. I have not decided on whether I'll contest the election (for another term as president of MCA)," he added.

On Shiv Sena declaring its support for his rival Dilip Vengsarkar, the NCP chief said he always tried to keep politics away from sports administration.

"I have been associated with many sports associations. I have worked as MCA chief, as well as BCCI president  and now I am the ICC chief. But I have always believed that political ideology should not be mixed with sports administration." He added that prior to him, Manohar Joshi was the MCA president and even he never brought politics into it.

"I have worked alongside Joshi, Arun Jaitley, but we have never brought politics into it. I have never interfered in cricket matches. Cricket affairs have been left to the cricketers," he said.

Pawar also recalled that when he became the MCA president, it had liability of Rs 6 crore, but during his tenure, the association hosted the World Cup final, renovated the Wankhede stadium at a cost of over Rs 200 crore, besides having the best indoor facility in the country.

Although Pawar stated that he is yet to decide on contesting the polls, MCA sources, however, insisted that he would contest.

(Agencies)