'How I lost my eye' -
Excerpts from Pataudi's biography
Article page |
Health page |
Fruits and Vegetables
Heroes & Incredible peoples
Football FIFA World cup
Asian Beach games
Hockey world cup|
Mumbai: The death of cricket legend
Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi marks the end of one of the finest innings in the
history of Indian cricket.
Known as a brilliant cricketer and fabulous
captain, here's a chapter from his autobiography in which he recalls the day
when he lost his right eye in a car mishap. (Also see: Pataudi's last journey in
On July 1, 1961, after a hard day in the field against Sussex at Hove, five
members of the Oxford University team, including myself, went out into Brighton
for some Chinese food. Having dined, I felt pleasantly relaxed as we travelled
back to the hotel in the Morris 100 car given by wicket-keeper Robin Waters. It
was a beautiful evening, with a soft, salty breeze blowing from the sea so the
lads decided that they would sooner walk the last lap back home. 'Come with us,
Pat, a walk will do you good.' (Also Read: 'An innings played with one leg and
But I was feeling much too lazy. 'No thanks, I'd sooner ride back with Robin,' I
decided. The other three got out, and as Robin started up again I clambered over
into the front seat beside him. I had just settled down, when a big car pulled
out into the middle of the road and into our path. We hit it straight on.
There was just sufficient time for me to turn my right shoulder to take the
impact and when my shoulder hit the windscreen I must have broken it, because I
found it impossible to throw a ball for nearly two years afterwards. I also hurt
my hand, but was not at the time aware of any other damage.
It wasn't a serious accident. Robin seemed quite O.K., except for a few cuts
above the forehead, and as we were being carried into the ambulance I can
remember saying to him: 'I've broken my hand. I doubt whether I'll be O.K. to
play in the Varsity Match'. I had no idea then that I had injured my eye as
well, because I felt no pain.
When I awoke in hospital in Brighton I was told: 'You must have an operation on
your right eye.' I was greatly surprised. Apparently a splinter had passed from
the windscreen and entered my eye, and this splinter had to be extracted.
Mr. David St. Clair Roberts, the surgeon, was summoned from his home to perform
an emergency operation. He did a very good job, but afterwards I learnt that I
had lost the lens of the eye, it having dissolved through injury, and that there
was also a coat across the iris. The pupil of the eye had been stitched up,
leaving me practically without vision. The eye was also out of alignment, and a
further operation to bring it into line was not possible at that time.
'You will find it better to play cricket using one eye, as a contact lens would
take too long to master,' I was told by Sir Benjamin Rycroft, the distinguished
eye specialist. With a contact lens in my injured eye I found I could get about
90 per cent vision. The only trouble was it made me see two of everything.
It took me a long time to realize I had
virtually lost the use of one eye, but even then, never for an instant did I
consider I might not be able to play cricket again. Possibly, I refused to let
myself believe it could be the finish. Of course, I realized I must miss
Oxford's last three games of the season, a fact which incidentally cost me the
chance of surpassing my father's aggregate runs in an Oxford season. Colin
Drybrough took over the captaincy in my absence; and since Robin Waters
unfortunately failed to regain his sharp touch behind the stumps, C. A. Fry,
grandson of the great C.B. kept wicket in the University match. With play
restricted by thunderstorms on the first day, the match tailed off into a
In the meantime, three of four weeks after my operation, I was back in the nets,
trying to find out what difference the accident had made to my batting, despite
the fact that everyday life had proved a bit tricky at first. 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 distances. 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. Fortunately I had the help of both my
mother and sister who had come over from India to look after me.
But my batting needed sorting out. For long hours George Cod, the Sussex coach,
bowled to me in the net while I worked out what I could still do and what I
could not. At first I couldn't pick the length of the bowling at all. Then I
reached a sort of compromise, but I suppose it took five years before I could
claim to be completely on terms with my handicap.
It has been said that I adopted a more open-chested stance. I don't think, in
fact, that this is so. I always did favour a position more square on that most
text books recommend. I soon found that I could no longer hook, because I
couldn't follow the ball round, and I had to curb my natural inclination to
drive half-volleys because I was so frequently beaten by the yorker.
On the whole 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.
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 headlights
For this reason I have stopped driving altogether in England. In India, the
worst thing is overtaking when another car is approaching from the other side of
the road -- I find it difficult to judge precisely how far away the other car
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 retuned
with my mother and sister to India in order to recuperate.
Back home people didn't realize to what extent my eye had been injured and I,
determined to play as much cricket as possible, did not of course encourage
When asked to captain the President's team against the visiting M. C. C. team
under Ted Dexter, at Hyderabad, I jumped at the chance...
( Courtesy: The NDTV