Former Indian opener Ghulam Parkar savours top memories

MUSCAT, NOV 11 – There was one special senior cricketer present at the Muscat International Airport when the cricket fraternity gathered to give a grand welcome to the Oman team which qualified for the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia.
Ghulam Ahmed Parkar, a former Indian cricketer who had played with legendary Sunil Gavaskar, was a cheerful presence at the welcoming party for the Oman heroes.
Introduced by Pankaj Khimji, board member of Oman Cricket, the veteran cricketer said he is now a resident of Muscat after his son was working with a local company in the capital city.
“There are lot of memories but opening with Gavaskar remains prominent,” he told the Observer in an exclusive interview.
Parkar’s 421-run stand with Gavaskar is the fifth best opening stand in the Ranji Trophy. The flamboyant right-hand batsman scored 156 in the opening stand with Gavaskar (340) against Bengal. The partnership is also the second best for Mumbai. Another top moment he recalls is the man of the match award against West Indies when they toured India in 1984.
“This was after India beat West Indies to clinch our first ever World Cup title. So the Windies came in all cylinders and won the one-day series 5-0.” “I was selected for the man of the match for my good fielding and 42 runs in the fifth ODI,” the 64-year-old said.
West Indies won by six wickets to sweep the series 5-0 but Parkar was the player of the match for his 50-ball 42 (7×4, 1×6) in a total of 178 for 7 against a rampant West Indies. The dynamic fielder also took two catches and made a runout.
Young Ghulam was known for his athletic fielding and attacking style of batting in the Mumbai circles.
Ghulam retired from domestic cricket in 1986-87 season and left for Kenya where he played on for 10 years.
“I played with Kenya’s Nairobi Jaffery’s Club for 10 seasons. Former Kenyan captain Asif Kareem, who played in the World Cup, was from my club,” he said.
Ghulam played his lone Test for India at the Lord’s against England and opened with Gavaskar. He also played 10 ODIs for India from 1982 to 1984 and batted along with another former Indian stars Srikkanth and Anshuman Gaekwad.
“Playing with Gavaskar was very good experience. He encouraged me a lot and I was able to learn a lot after watching some of his great innings’ from close.”
An aggressive batsman, he scored 4,167 runs at 42.09 in First-Class cricket, but in Ranji Trophy the numbers read 3,087 at 49.79. Parkar smashed 20 fifties and 11 hundreds representing Mumbai team.
Parkar fondly remembers his century (117) for West Zone against Zaheer Abbas’ Pakistan during a tour match in 1979 in which he had a 222-run opening partnership with skipper Anshuman Gaikwad (119). Another one was a well-made 146 against Yorkshire during India’s England tour in 1982.
FUTURE BRIGHT
The former player congratulated Oman for qualifying to the World Cup 2020 in Australia.
“This is a good achievement for Oman cricket. I was closely following the T20 World Cup Qualifier in the UAE.” For reaching the game more to the citizens, the experienced former cricketer said it should be promoted and marketed in Omani schools at the wilayats and governorates.
“Cricket needs to be promoted more among the Omani schools and colleges. I think the Oman Cricket has been already working on such initiatives,” Ghulam, who had a brief coaching stint with the Oman under-17 and under-19 teams, said.
“The junior teams are the future of the game and right now Oman have promising junior sides and the future looks bright,” he concluded.