Leeds: No visit to Leeds for the cricket is complete without tales of Sachin Tendulkar’s stint at Yorkshire. The legendary Indian batsman broke multiple records in his career, but becoming the first foreigner to play for Yorkshire was one of his earliest milestones.
And it didn’t come easy. Who better than Sulieman Adam to narrate the story of Tendulkar’s entry to Yorkshire?
Adam shifted to England from Simlak in Gujarat in 1963 as a schoolboy. He was soon hooked onto cricket, and played at club and league levels in the country. He couldn’t make it big on the field, but helped numerous cricketers from India play league or club cricket in England.
Solly, as he is fondly called by many, would host Indian players starved of home food for dinners. He would help many players including Imran Khan, Javed Miandad, Brijesh Patel and Vinod Kambli play league cricket. He would help them get sponsors for equipment. He would even help organise benefit matches. Solly proudly recalls leading players ranging from Imran Khan to Chandrakant Pandit in his club-cricket days.
His biggest signing, though, was the historic deal which got Tendulkar to Yorkshire in 1992.
“I was a member of Yorkshire club. I wanted some Asian to play for Yorkshire,” he narrates to Cricketnext. “But the rule then was that someone born outside Yorkshire cannot play for the county. Even someone born in say Derbyshire or Lancashire cannot play.
“Suddenly one day I was watching on TV that Yorkshire changed the rule and are going to sign Australian pacer Craig McDermott. I was very happy that the door was opened for Asians. And within a week, he was injured. The minute he pulled out, I called the Yorkshire board and said ‘you’ve opened the gate now. Can I recommend you an Asian?’ They said no. They refused. I said I’ll put it in the press that you’re prejudiced against Asians. So they said okay, come and talk to us.
“The next day when I went to Headingley, I saw Fred Trueman outside. He said Solly I’m not happy, I don’t like anybody to come and play for Yorkshire. I said even I’m not happy with an Australian playing for Yorkshire. He said we’ve won many county championships without professionals, I said I’m sorry they’ve changed the rules and you have to accept it. I argued with the committee members for a long time…I had to do a lot to convince 12 people in the committee. And then they asked who do you want to recommend? I said Sachin Tendulkar.
“They said no, he’s too young. He’s only a kid. I said even Don Bradman says he’s reminded of himself when watching Tendulkar batting. When Bradman says that, how can you say he’s too young? Then they finally agreed.”
However, there was the small matter of convincing Tendulkar.
“I knew Sachin before he became a Test cricketer, from his childhood. I called Sachin, he was in Australia. I told him it’s something unique and he will open doors for other Asians. He initially said he’s playing Ranji Trophy and is already playing a lot of matches, it will be too much to play four months. He initially refused but said give me a couple of days.
“I immediately spoke to , who is like a brother to me, and asked him to convince Tendulkar. They were in the same hotel then. Gavaskar convinced him and Tendulkar agreed.”