BBC World times launch of 'Great Indian Cricketers' series with ICC Champions Trophy

MUMBAI: With the stage set for the ICC Champions Trophy, which will be played in England from 10 September, BBC World has launched a new four part documentary series on cricket called Great Indian Cricketers, which will profile some of the top Indian captains, bowlers, fielders and batsmen of the last 72 years. The series will be aired from 4 September at 10 pm and will be hosted by former Indian cricketer and commentator Sanjay Manjrekar. The show has been produced for BBC World by TWI and is sponsored by Max New York Life and Fiat Petra.     

While talking to, Manjrekar said, "It's nice to be a messenger who reminds the fans about the great cricketers as I am very proud of, not necessarily always of the team and their achievements, but some of the individuals who have made a mark here and all over the world."

Great Indian Cricketers is an excellent package for BBC World's audience, whether it is the NRI audience or the international audience. The show gives the audience a feeling of what Indian cricket is all about - individual brilliance. This series is a kind of warm up for the Indian spectators for the Champions Trophy.

The series will feature rare archival footage and interviews with some of the biggest names in the game like - Polly Umrigar (1948-1961), Sunil Gavaskar (1970-1986), Sachin Tendulkar (1989). Bowlers: Bishen Singh Bedi (1966-1979), Kapil Dev (1978-1994), Anil Kumble (1990). Fielders: Eknath Solkar (1969-1976), Syed Kirmani (1975-1986), Mohammed Kaif (1999). Captains: Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi (1961-1975), Mohammed Azharuddin (1984-2000), Sourav Ganguly (1992).

The first episode, 'Batsmen', will focus on Polly Umrigar, who for many years held the record of most runs and most hundreds along with Sunil Gavaskar and current cricketing icon Sachin Tendulkar.

On 11 September, the second programme reviews India's most famous 'Bowlers', such as Bishen Singh Bedi, Kapil Dev and Anil Kumble. The programme also looks at how spin bowling became Indian cricket's weapon of choice in the 1950s and features outstanding performances by bowlers like Vinoo Mankad and Subhash Gupte.

The third episode, which will air on 18 September, looks at outstanding fielders such as Eknath Solkar, who holds the record for the highest ratio of catches per matches, wicket keeper Syed Kirmani, and Mohammed Kaif. The final episode, which will air on 25 September, will feature Indian batsmen like Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, Mohammed Azharuddin and Sourav Ganguly.

BBC World team along with the producers of the show zeroed in on the 12 players after long sessions of debate and brainstorming. The criteria to select these players was not necessarily always about numbers. Says Manjrekar, "We had to cover 72 years of Indian cricket from 1932 - 2004. We selected Polly Umrigar as one of the best batsmen of the time, whereas we could have selected G R Vishwanath or Rahul Dravid but we were looking over a span of time so we don't want guys only from the 1980s or the 2000s. So all that was taken into consideration."

Manjrekar, who will be one of the commentators for the ICC Champions Trophy, said that the Australian team was undoubtedly the best team in the world as there was no team that was threatening them, at the same time he also added, "While they are the best team in the world, it doesn't mean that they will win the tournament." When queried on the participation of USA in the tournament this time, Manjrekar said, "We will not be seeing too many Americans in the team. Well, they are American citizens but many of them are of Indian and Asian origins and there aren't many third generation Americans in the team."

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