pre-teens Rahul had no formal coaching as such. His
father Sharad passed on the odd tip or so. Most of
the early cricket he learnt was through discussions
with class mates and neighbourhood friends,
including Santosh Bhavani, brother of Sadanand
Vishwanath. The garage door served as their wicket
and all the cricketing lessons about firm top hand,
loose bottom hand, playing close to the body, etc
was learnt on the streets of Indiranagar.
Rahul was close to 13 years of age when he attended
his first formal camp, at the KSCA stadium. PS
Vishwanath, former Karnataka batsman and
vice-president of KSCA, was looking after the KSCA
nets at that time. He remembered Rahul's father
Sharad, with whom he played recreational badminton,
telling him of his son's interest in cricket.
"I asked him to send Rahul to the KSCA camp. Those
days there was very little coaching for young boys.
I used to be the director of the Regional Coaching
Camp at Sree Kanteerava Stadium. We had three-month
long camps throughout the year for all games, not
just cricket. Suddenly the state government decided
to bring this under the Directorate of Youth
Services and Sports. The coaches all became
government officers and the camp just died.
"It was then that I requested C Nagaraj, erstwhile
secretary of KSCA, to start at least a summer
cricket camp at KSCA.''
Those days, KSCA conducted nets and camps only for
boys selected into State teams, and even that only
during the season. It was left to the private clubs
to spot youngsters at inter-school level and work
on their development.
``There was no direct contact between KSCA and the
hundreds and thousands of children who wanted to
play the game. Besides there were no private
coaching camps like the ones that have sprouted all
over the State these days,'' said Vishwanath.
The summer coaching camp was KSCA's way of direct
contact with the young aspiring players. Initially,
KSCA club members' children were inducted into
these camps. They brought along their friends and
relatives and the camp soon grew into unmanageable
proportions. It reached a stage where KSCA had to
conduct selections to choose trainees for the camp.
In this scenario, when Rahul walked into the camp,
Vishwanath directed him to Keki Tarapore's net.
Tarapore was an off spinner. He had played for the
then Mysore State in Ranji Trophy against erstwhile
Madras in 1945. He was a member of Bangalore United
cricket Club (BUCC), one of the more influential
clubs in the State. Dr. Capt. K Thimmappiah who had
the distinction of scoring the first Ranji Trophy
century for Mysore State was the president of the
club. He was also the KSCA president, a post he
took over from M Chinnaswamy.
Now Thimmappiah had a monopoly on selection
committees. He was in all selection committees,
whether it was to select the state schools side or
the Ranji Trophy team. He had an eye for talent and
was not shy of airing his views. Thimmappiah and
Tarapore had a good rapport. The latter would be on
the look out for talented youngsters and alert
Thimmappiah whenever he came across any.
Tarapore took to coaching and underwent the
Rajkumari Sports Coaching Scheme in Mumbai in the
late 50s. He served a brief stint in Jaipur before
being transferred to Bangalore. There, he was on
deputation to the erstwhile Mysore State Cricket
In Bangalore, for the next three decades Tarapore
literally breathed cricket. Being a Parsi, he could
stay at the Parsi Apartments, just a stone's throw
from the cricket stadium. He was at the association
grounds early in the morning for the nets. Later he
would travel in his moped or scooter from ground to
ground to watch his wards play either inter-school
or inter-club or any match, for that matter. In the
late afternoon he was back at the club or state
Cricket, for Tarapore, was everything. Over the
years, a number of Test cricketers ranging from VV
Subramanyam, EAS Prasanna, BS Chandrasekhar, GR
Vishwanath, Brijesh Patel, Syed Kirmani, Roger
Binny, Raghuram Bhat and Sadanand Vishwanath
attended his nets.
(Tarapore's son Shavir too played a bit of cricket
before venturing to cricket umpiring. He is in the
national panel and has stood competently in a
number of One-Day Internationals.)
In the late 70s and 80s, long before the advent of
the National Cricket Academy, the Board used to run
a national camp for promising youngsters. Former
Test cricketers Col Hemu Adhikari and later
Hanumath Singh used to be the chief coach and
Tarapore assisted them. A number of outstanding
cricketers like Kapil Dev, Yograj Singh, Bharath
Reddy, B Arun, K Srikkanth, Ravi Shastri, Kiran
More, Sadanand Vishwanath, Raghuram Bhat, Shivlal
Yadav, Roger Binny, et al were put through their
paces by Tarapore.
While Tarapore certainly had a big hand in the
moulding of Roger Binny, Raghuram Bhat and Sadanand
Vishwanath in the Karnataka line-up, the one
cricketer he groomed from scratch was without doubt
Coach and pupil struck an excellent rapport right
from the start. For Tarapore, Rahul was everything
he wanted in a pupil and for Rahul, Tarapore's word
was the gospel.
Rahul trusted Tarapore totally. His implicit faith
in him was so strong that he accepted without
question his instructions.
``Keki (Tarapore) moulded him. I can say this
without doubt,'' said Sharad Dravid.
He had such tremendous interest in Rahul's cricket
that he often set up special nets for him. Tarapore,
who was a good communicator with youngsters,
ingrained in Rahul the ethics of the game. By
default it also became the ethics of his life.
Rahul, in his teens, grasped these lessons quickly.
Along with the values his parents, school and
college teachers taught him, and the literature he
was getting exposed to, he was turning out to be an
upright, principled and very fine sportsman. In
fact these traits are unmistakable in him and
anybody who has come in contact with Rahul over a
period of time will easily vouch for it.