S-t-r-e-t-c-h against all odds

Most of us want to achieve spectacular success in life. A bird’s eye view of most people that fall under this category tells us they have “stretched” normal limits tremendously. Here is a story of “Tiger” Pataudi to illustrate this point.

Stretch against all odds[Tiger Pataudi lost sight in one eye as a result of a car mishap when in his early 20s. He describes adjusting to life in the first few weeks after the accident.]

… three or four weeks after my operation, I was back in the nets, trying to find out what difference the accident had made to my batting. As any boxer who has had one eye closed by the blows of an opponent will tell you, it causes loss of perspective of judgement and distance. For example, when trying to light a cigarette I found I was missing the end of it by a quarter of an inch. I was also liable to pour water from a jug straight on to the table, instead of into a tumbler as I intended. But gradually I got the trick of performing such actions, finding it quite possible to adjust.

But my batting needed sorting out…on the whole I found out I favoured the quicker stuff. Slow spin was so difficult to follow in flight, but gradually I learnt to judge pace by the amount of flight and the effort that the bowler was putting into it.

I aimed to get bat and pad right behind the line of anything straight and play the ball with studied care, but if the ball was off the wicket I took the opportunity to play a full-blooded aggressive shot. It was a question of finding out my limitations and then playing strictly within them.

As far as everyday life was concerned it did not take me long to get adjusted. Mind you, I still find it difficult to drive at night because the headlight bothers me. For this reason I have stopped driving altogether in England. In India, the worst thing is overtaking when another car is approaching on the other side of the road – I find it difficult to judge precisely how far away the other car is. Mostly I don’t bother to try to distinguish colours with my injured eye, but if I close the good one, colours seen from a distance of a few inches are fine.

Having been granted leave of absence from Oxford University for one year, largely because I was told I wouldn’t be able to read for some time, I returned with my mother and sister to India in order to recuperate. Back home people didn’t realise to what extent my eye had been injured and I, determined to play as much cricket as possible, did not of course encourage their curiosity. When asked by the captain of the President’s team against the visiting MCC team under Ted Dexter, at Hyderabad, I jumped at the chance.

… we batted, and for my own moment of trial I decided to try to wear a contact lens in my right eye. To my discomfort I found I was seeing two balls, six to seven inches apart. By picking the inner one I managed to score 35 runs before tea. Then I removed the contact lens and, keeping the bad eye closed, completed a top score of 70 before being caught by Ken Barrington off the bowling of Tony Brown.

Source: Tiger’s tale by Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi