Indian students humbled to meet their ‘God of Cricket’

Indian students humbled to meet their ‘God of Cricket’

It was one of those cricketing moments that would have put a satisfied smile on the face of the late Sir Donald Bradman.

Out near the hallowed grounds of Bradman Oval in Bowral stood the Mumbai maestro Sachin Tendulkar, AM, who had just flown in by helicopter from Sydney warmly greeting the University of Wollongong student from Hyderabad selected as UOW’s inaugural Bradman Scholarship holder.

Here in one spot (Thursday 30 October) was the Indian batting superstar, identified by Sir Donald early in his career as the batsman whose technique most closely resembled his own, standing alongside first year Civil Engineering student Mohammed Shuja Ahmed Khan.

The 19-year-old UOW student said he could not believe he was standing next to his Indian cricket idol. Shuja’s memorable meeting took place took place at the famous ‘final salute’ bronze statue in the Bradman Courtyard. The statue is situated next to the garden where Lady Jessie and Sir Donald’s ashes were scattered in 2001.

“It’s a fantastic day for me to meet the ‘God of Cricket’ – if only I could do straight drives like Sachin I’d indeed be a very happy person,” Shuja mused.

Shuja’s own cricketing speciality is as a medium-paced bowler with the University Blues.

He said he had always dreamed of attending a world-class university overseas and is adamant he has found that in the University of Wollongong.

“I am most impressed with my teachers and the quality of education I am receiving – all of which would not have been possible without the scholarship I have been awarded.”

UOW inaugurated the Bradman Scholarship in 2012 to honour Sir Donald who is widely regarded as the greatest-ever cricketer.

The scholarship will be awarded each year to an Indian student – male or female – who has completed secondary school and demonstrates a combination of academic, sporting, personal and social skills, as well as strong participation in cricket.

UOW combined as education partner with the Bradman Foundation, a charitable trust established in 1987 with the blessing of Sir Donald Bradman to promote cricket as a cultural and sporting force, to establish the scholarship.

Shuja was awarded the inaugural Bradman Scholarship after an India-wide search in 2013, and began his four-year Bachelor of Civil Engineering course early in 2014.

Shuja was among a select group of UOW Indian students who were invited to go to Bowral to meet Sachin Tendulkar, who is acknowledged as one of the greatest batsmen of all time.

Others in the UOW party included: Mr Sandeep Kunder who is a 1st grade player with the UOW Cricket Club and a Master of Information and Communications Technology student; Mr Gobinder Kashmirian, a Phase 3 student in the second last year of training at the UOW Graduate School of Medicine – Bowral District Hospital and Bowral Private Hospital; Mr Nitesh Sharma, an active representative of Indian Australian Cultural Association (Master of IT Management student); Ms Twinkle Gupta, Vice-President of the UOW India Forum (Bachelor of Engineering student); Ms Swarali Kamath, an active member of the India Forum and key participant in Bollywood events in Wollongong (Master of Science and Management – Biotechnology student); Ms Laveena Tikyani, Cultural Events Co-ordinator for the India Forum and Dubai exchange student (Master of Strategic Marketing and Management); and attending from administration were the Senior Manager of International Admissions and Recruitment, Mr Stephen Lowe; and the Marketing and Communications Co-ordinator for South Asia, Ms Nisha Kamboj.

Tendulkar received a guided tour of the Bradman Museum and International Cricket Hall of Fame museum by curator David Wells. On first arriving in Bowral, however, he ensured he greeted as many up-and-coming young cricket players along with school students from Bowral Public School where Sir Donald went to school.

During a Q and A session in the museum (which Sachin described as something “only one can dream about”) the superstar cricketer spoke about how God is really the cricket itself.

“It’s all about giving to the game and just doing the best you can and how the rest will happen automatically.”

Sachin revealed how he personally has to learn to cope without having much space to move freely about in a country boasting more than a billion people where he is idolised.

Before arriving in Bowral, Tendulkar and Australian test cricket captain Steve Waugh, AO, were honoured at The Bradman Foundation’s Gala Dinner on October 29 at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Tendulkar and Waugh were present for their induction as the 2014 Bradman Honourees, joining the likes of Alan Davidson AM, MBE, Dennis Lillee AM, MBE and Mark Taylor, AO.

Tendulkar has scored more Test runs than any other cricketer in history and bestrode the international cricket stage for 24 years retiring from all levels of cricket in 2013.

UOW and UOWD are both popular destinations for Indian students particularly for postgraduate study. In 2014 UOW in Australia had 441 Indian students at its campuses in Wollongong and Sydney, a 40 per cent increase on the previous year. In Dubai, UOWD boasts about 1125 Indian students making them the largest cohort on the Dubai site.