Sports Council of Northern Ireland honours former Hyderabad cricket captain Bobby Rao

The former captain of Hyderabad’s Ranji trophy team M.V. Narasimha Rao has been honoured by being included in the Hall of Fame by the Sports Council of Northern Ireland also known as Sport NI. It is the body which is in charge of developing sport throughout the nation of Northern Ireland. Rao is the only Indian cricketer to be bestowed with this honour and he was given this award at a glittering function attended by the mayor of the town and several VIPs.

It may be recalled that many years ago he was also awarded the MBE by the British monarch. On that occasion too, he was the first Indian cricketer to be given this prestigious award. It was conferred upon him in recognition for his services and work to bring about harmony between different ethnic groups through the use of cricket and sports events.

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Speaking about the recent development, Narasimha Rao who is better known as Bobby Rao told that he was taken by surprise when he was informed that his name would be included in the Hall of Fame by the Sports Council of Northern Ireland. “It was a pleasant surprise for me. For many years I have coached youngsters and I have worked to bring about understanding between the different communities so they have decided to give me this honour,” he explained.

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Coached Ireland’s top cricketers

After settling down in Northern Ireland, Bobby Rao had coached several players who achieved great heights. Some of the well known players who were coached by Bobby Rao include Captain William Porterfield, Boyd Rankin, Ed Joyce, Kevin O’Brien and his brother Niall, Andrew White and many more. He coached them at different age groups when they were teenagers.

Bobby Rao, along with former England fast bowler Mike Hendrik brought about a new and well organised structure in the local cricket which till then had been an unstructured amateur level sport throughout the land.

Brought about harmony

But he did not stop only with cricket. He also devoted himself to easing ethnic tensions between different communities by organising sports events and creating a friendly atmosphere. For more than 20 years he worked to build bridges between various communities and was the main force behind the Strabane Ethnic Community Association.

In recent times Bobby’s daughter Kamini has been leading the work being done by the organisation. “She is doing a great job in carrying forward the work of the organisation and creating a harmonious atmosphere between different groups of people who live here,” Bobby Rao explained.

Playing days in Hyderabad

Looking back at his own playing days in Hyderabad, Bobby Rao, who was Hyderabad’s most successful captain and led the team to victories in the Ranji trophy, Irani trophy and the Moin ud Dowla Gold Cup said that there was a fighting spirit back then among all the players.

But after Hyderabad won the Ranji trophy in the 1986-87 season they were offered a meagre amount by the HCA which was short of funds. However Chief Minister N T Rama Rao stepped in and rewarded each player of the team with a sum of five thousand rupees which was a considerable amount back then.

Rewarded by NTR

“We played the final match of the Ranji trophy in Delhi. Madhav Rao Scindia, who was then the Minister for railways, arranged a separate AC coach in the train for our team’s return journey from Delhi to Hyderabad. Then the AP Chief Minister N T Rama Rao gave us Rs 5000 each. We were all so thrilled. In those days Hyderabad cricket was riding a wave of success. It occupied a different level than it does now,” said Bobby Rao.

Rao was selected to represent India against West Indies in 1978–79, but after two Tests he was dropped. He was again brought back for the series against Australia led by Kim Hughes. The Aussies found it difficult to spot his googly and it looked like he would create a place for himself in the Indian team. But again he was dropped for unknown reasons. Now he has got recognition and reward in Northern Ireland.

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