Indian cricketers yet to stamp their presence

Philatelist Father Tom John is participating in the ICC World Cup, though in a different way. He has stamps from the cricket extravaganza in his kitty.

Living in a remote village of Jharkhand, John has a rich collection of over 400 stamps related to World Cup Cricket. But he certainly feels bad for Indian cricketers as they are yet to be honoured by India Post.

A parish priest at St Anthony's Church at Navatoli in Gumla, John has a fancy for collecting stamps from his early childhood but it became a passion for him with the passing days. Now in his early 50s, John's total collection of stamps runs over 40,000 comprising many rare and priced stamps.

The philatelist started collecting stamps related to cricket since 1996 and since then he has collected almost every stamp that was released in any corner of the globe on the World Cup. "I don't claim to possess all the stamps issued till date, but definitely I have 180 different stamps related to cricket, this year being the 10th World Cup," he said.

No postage stamp on the first World Cup in 1975 was released. But as soon as stamps and commemorations were issued by different countries, John started collecting them.

"St Vincent is a small island near West Indies and is a non-cricket playing nation but it has issued a large number of stamps related to Indian cricketers," said John showing stamps on Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev. Even Guine Bissau, another small country, has issued a series of stamps in honour of Sachin Tendulkar. Sri Lanka's Department of Posts had brought out a First Day Cover on Muttiah Muralitharan to commemorate the off-spinner becoming the highest wicket taker in Test cricket.

Expressing surprise over the apathy of India Post in issuing philatelic material on Indian players like Mahendra Singh Dhoni or Tendulkar, John said cricketers in India seem to be honoured only after death.

Showing a collection of stamps on Vinod Mankad, Vijay Merchant, C K Naidu and Deodhar issued in 1995 by India Post, he said a series on Maharaja Ranjit Singhji was also issued in 1993. "Interestingly, all were honoured posthumously," he said calling on India Post officials to take a lesson from other countries.

"Small countries like St Vincent and Vatican make money by issuing stamps on legendary personalities from other countries and tourists as well as philatelists are always eager to cough up huge sums for those prized possessions," he said.

With a dream to meet Indian skipper Dhoni one day, John wants to present him some stamps collected on cricket and obtain his autograph on his stamp book.