The Cricket Centre building in the vicinity of the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai is now a famous landmark, but the oldest employee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India has been serving the association from the time when the Board operated from a small space inside the Cricket Club of India at the Brabourne Stadium.
Sitaram Tambe, a familiar face in the faceless backroom staff that plays a crucial role in smooth conduct of India’s official cricket on a day-to-day basis has been carrying trophies to all parts of India. Traveling across the length and breadth of the country, Tambe mama as he is fondly called ensures that months of hard work that a cricket team puts to earn the coveted trophy get its due when the shining silverware reaches its deserving winner.
While the team selection announcements are now streamed live, back then Tambe mama made trips to the post office to send telegrams to those picked in the squad. In those days, he even doubled up as logistics operator and coordinated with airports and other relevant authorities during Indian team’s foreign visits transporting team’s kit bags.
When the Clive Lloyd-led West Indies (now Windies) arrived in India after the World Cup in 1983, he helped the players get local Indian currency and even suggested hot spots to try out the local cuisine. He fondly remembers the time spent with former greats Lala Amarnath, MAK Pataudi, B. S. Chandrasekhar and Salim Durani.
In over four decades, not once has he misplaced or damaged a trophy. In fact, he is the go-to man when a trophy or a part of it breaks. “I had gone to deliver the Ranji Trophy to Indore last year (2016-17 season) and when I handed it over to the crew there, the top of it broke while the trophy was being removed. It weighs 15 kgs. We called a local expert, took the trophy to his workshop and sat there till the work was complete. By the time we reached the ground with the trophy, it was 2am and when Gujarat were handed the trophy, it was in pristine condition.”
As he approaches the finish line of what has been a marathon run, Tambe mama will make one more trip to Indore with the historic Ranji Trophy to crown the domestic champions of the 2017-18 season. With Tambe mama (grey safari suit), the BCCI will also bid goodbye to their senior employees Dr Vece Paes (extreme right), Jayant Jhaveri (first from left) and B Laxman (second from left) whose contribution has been immense and their experience, invaluable.