Here is Rohan’s Journey
Making of a story is a story in itself. And Blades of Glory is no exception. Rohan Pate, a cricketer, worshipper of the game, and most importantly a humble man, has slogged out for over 18 months to make this dream museum a reality. Here is the story of making of the Blades of Glory, in Rohan’s own words:
To be honest with you, I had never imagined that I would start a cricket museum one day. Even the thought of doing something like this had never crossed my mind till two years ago. It all probably changed after one particular instance though. I met Sachin Tendulkar during the 2010 Indian Premier League, and got a signed bat from him. Till then, I was collecting autographs, most of them in a diary. At that time, we were in process of signing Sachin as our brand ambassador for Amit Enterprises Housing Limited. During those days, I went to Sachin’s manager’s office, where he had a bats signed by many top-notch cricketers.
That’s where the idea of museum clicked me for the first time. I felt, "What am I doing collecting autographs in a diary? I should aim for something much more bigger and exclusive."
And so, the journey began. I took autographs of a lot of players on bats during the 2011 IPL. Then, the theme of the World Cup winning teams came to my mind,so I went to Sri Lanka when they were playing a series against Australia, and got autographs of almost all the members of their World Cup-winning team of 1996 on a bat. Pakistan’s World champion team of 1992 was also on my radar. I went to Dubai, when they were hosting England, for that. (Former Pakistan batsman) Ijaz Ahmed helped me a lot to find and get the autographs of the Pakistani players.
Australia was the biggest target, of course, with that country having won the World Cup four times. During India’s recent tour to Australia, I went over there for a fortnight, and managed to collect 47 autographs. It was quite an experience. There were a lot of logistical hassles, since Australia is a vast nation and tracing former cricketers is not so easy.
One day, I found out that Simon O’Donnell, Australia’s most economical bowler in the 1987 World Cup, was at his farm house, which was about 300km away from Sydney. I took a cab, went to that place, got the autograph, and came back the same day. Similarly, Peter Taylor, Australia’stwo-times World Cupper, including theirvictorious campaign in 1987, was farming in his hometown when he asked me to come over. It was the smallest airport I have seen in my all life. It was great for Taylor to come over at the airport and give me his autograph.
My day in Australia used to start at 4 am, and very often used to end at 1am the next morning. That included getting up early for flights, travelling from airport to totally unknown and unheard of places to find a player.
Being a vegetarian, roaming around Australia was quite a challenge, to put it mildly. There have been times when I have had just a burger and a fruit for an entire day. But then, no complaints, as I was getting what I wanted – autographs and memorabilia from some of the greatest cricketers ever.
I went to England during India’s tour in 2011, and got a wonderful response from the English players. Players like Matt Prior, for example, were so nice that they used to call me saying, “We are staying at this hotel. Give me a bat in the morning, and take back the autographed bat in the evening.” I could never imagine that it would be so smooth.
West Indies is perhaps the only place that I didn’t need to go, and I just can’t thank Desmond Haynes for that. Everybody knows what a great opening batsman he was. And he is an even better person. He has helped me getting the autographs of a number of West Indian legends, just out of friendship.
When Sachin Tendulkar realised how serious I am about this museum, he gave me a lot of his exclusive stuff, from pads to gloves to arm-guards, on his own, without me even asking for it.
I have collected plenty of stuff in this year and half, and I have had good, and at times, bad experiences. I have been asked why I am collecting all this stuff; and how many more times am I going to ask that kind of stuff; I have been made to wait for days, just to get one autograph, but, I feel, all that has been more than its worth, when I look at this beautiful museum.
I would also like to stress that having been a cricketer myself, this museum is an attempt on my part to pay tribute to the game of cricket, especially Indian cricket. Not only has the sport given all of us a lot of moments to cherish, it has been instrumental in uniting a nation that is so diverse. And I couldn’t think of a fitting tribute than to create one-of-its kind, perhaps the first privately-owned museum of cricket memorabilia in India.
This dream would have remained unfulfilled without the helping hand of a lot of personnel. Though it would be impossible to jot down all the individuals, I cannot help but mention some of them. Prominent cricketers Kapil Dev,Desmond Haynes, Dilhara Fernando, Ijaz Ahmed were so helpful not just in giving me their own memorabilia but also putting me on to other sportspersons. Similarly, I would be obliged to Sunandan Lele and Tushar Joshi for their constant support. I would also like to thank Ahmed and Pooja for giving the perfect look to the interiors of the museum. Last but not the least, I would like to thank each and every member of my family, all of whom have always encouraged my passion for cricket.
And just for the record, this is just a beginning, and there are innumerable more items still to come to this museum, and that’s a promise.