R. C. Rajamani
The word picture provided by the cricket writers of the day and fleeting glimpses of Polly in the good old Films Division's
News Reelsthat were screened before start of feature films in cinema halls were enough to whet the appetite of cricket buffs in towns and cities across the country. Yet, Polly remained a phantom of delight for countless cricket-lovers unable to see him in action. An inveterate Polly fan as a teenager in the 1960s, I met my childhood hero years later, as a student of journalism in 1971, quite accidentally in a moving lift in Bombay. Strictly speaking, `meeting' was not the right word for I only stared at him. It happened in the Express Towers at Nariman Point. I was taking the lift to meet a friend in one of the higher floors. As the lift was about to move, a tall figure rushed in and towered above the rest. One look was enough for me to recognise Polly. Overawed, I could hardly believe it was my hero in flesh and blood! Much as I wanted to speak to him, the cat got my tongue and, before I could pull myself together, Polly got out the lift to go to his office.
Later, I had the good fortune of watching him in action in local matches played at the Bombay Gymkhana and Kennedy Sea Face and also formally met him on several occasions during my cricket assignments as a professional journalist. But the thrill was nowhere near the `lifting' moment at the Express Towers.
(The author, a former deputy editor of PTI, is a New Delhi-based freelance journalist. Feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org)