It Happens

Even Sachin Can’t Match His Numbers

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Since 1957, Sudhir Vaidya has been meticulously keeping a note of everything related to cricket.

When it comes to cricket statistics, most log on to the internet. For all its powers, though, certain things are beyond the net. It would not be of any help to Sachin Tendulkar’s family when they seek the names and addresses of his school and junior cricket teammates, so that they could be invited to his wedding. The web might not know that Prof DB Deodhar played in the 1948-49 tour of Australia and also reported it for Reuters. All cricket websites might not have details of streaker invasions, such as one during the India-England Test at Lord’s in 1986, when a topless blonde ran afield holding a banner demanding, ‘Bring back Botham.’

For varied information, it is better to go to Sudhir Vaidya, 71. The veteran statistician has helped with Sachin’s wedding invitations. Maharashtra government officials, under pressure to get things ready for Sunil Gavaskar’s felicitation, only had to knock on the door of Vaidya’s Thane home for facts and suggestions. Vaidya, who started maintaining cricket records in 1957, has statistics and scorecards of over 1,800 Tests, 2,600 One-day Internationals and 5,000 first-class matches.

Recently, the much-feted Vaidya, who was on the television broadcast teams for the 2003 World Cup and 2004 Champions Trophy, earned a place in the 2010 Limca Book of Records. “It is the climax of my statistical career,” he says. “I was lucky because everyone—my elders, employers (Johnson & Johnson), players and journalists—encouraged me.”  Vaidya’s waist is trim, voice clear and spine erect, evidence of a disciplined life. The 30 years that he held a day job, he got up at 4 am so that he could work on statistics till 7 am. “I don’t know fatigue,” Vaidya says. “I did not have distractions. My life revolved around my family, my job and cricket. ”

Vaidya liked cricket from childhood. His interest in statistics developed when he started noting newspaper photographs concerning milestones. “I began to compile my own records,” he says. “In college, I got serious about it. I wanted to play for the college team, but realised that was unlikely. But since I wanted to stay involved in the game, I focused on statistics and writing.”

Players grew aware of Vaidya’s dedication. Vaidya and the late Khandu Rangnekar, an India batsman, were once at the same function. “Rangnekar was a colourful guy who liked a drink and a laugh,” Vaidya says. “He found my introduction on stage a bit dry. So he went up and said about me, ‘In his youth he would spend evenings in Kanga library (at Wankhede stadium) instead of courting girls by the lake.’”

Vaidya only faced one small problem. Early in their marriage, his wife Hemlata would complain that they rarely went out. “Eventually she accepted it,” says Vaidya.