I was always fascinated by Mumbai cricket and its cricketers right from my childhood. Maybe it was because most of the leading cricketers came from Mumbai.
I had the opportunity to play in the Kanga League and the experience was phenomenal. It taught me the competitiveness and zeal to do well in adverse conditions. No wonder Mumbai produced such great cricketers.
Baroda being a small state with limited facilities found Mumbai a big challenge in any format of the game. Mumbai cricketers showed the grit and determination to compete till the end. Their never-give-up attitude showed their character. Ours was a weak team as compared to Mumbai and it was great fun to see Mumbai struggling at times. It was also a proud moment for us to do well against Mumbai which had seven-eight players representing India.
The moment the Mumbai team arrived at the ground, most of our players would stop their practice and instead watch the Mumbai players walk in. Such was the aura of Mumbai cricketers.
To perform well against Mumbai was a benchmark because it would draw the attention of the national selectors. The best part was most of the Mumbai cricketers came from middle-class families and worked hard to play cricket and this made them mentally and physically stronger.
Mumbai’s cricketers were role models for Indian cricket. Mumbai had a cricketing culture that others followed. I used to look forward to play against Mumbai. The talent Mumbai produced was enormous and the competition amongst themselves was greater than the game itself. This is where Mumbai cricket flourished for decades and maintained supremacy. This feature of Mumbai cricket brought the best in me as I grew up and gained experience, especially while playing against Mumbai.
Mr. Gaekwad was the captain of Baroda, India team coach, and a national selector.