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Audacious survivor: the many lives of Sixer Sidhu

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Nobody, the man famously said, travels on the road to success without a or two.

would know that. He has changed tyres successfully, and, after today's judgment fining him for a fatal road rage case but sparing him a jail term, the former seems ready for another turn on a journey that has been full of twists -- and occasional flats.

A chameleon-like batsman, a no-holds-barred commentator, a comedy show and a shrewd politician, Sidhu is the quintessential man for all seasons.

From his long sixes, that earned him the moniker "Sixer Sidhu", to his inimitable laugh which inspired many a meme on social media, the 54-year-old in has seldom been out of the

Born on October 20, 1963, in Patiala, the city famous for its Pag, Peg and Salwar, not to forget the legendary jutti, Sidhu perhaps would always be recognised first as a cricketer, despite his dismal start.

Called a "stroke-less wonder" in his 1983 debut, Sidhu announced his arrival with four half centuries in

But it wasn't just the fearless stroke-making that defined him.

The 11-hour vigil for his only Test double hundred (a 201 against the in 1997) showed he could be tenacious or audacious depending on what was demanded of him.

And -- certainly not the spinners -- had any idea just which Sidhu would turn up on a given day.

It wasn't only his cricket that was quirky; the man himself was as unpredictable as a storm.

The right-hander walked out midway through a tour of England in 1996, crying persecution after being dropped from the ODIs because of poor form, leaving the team management simply startled.

It is this unpredictability that continues to define him, nearly two decades after he hung up his bat in 1999.

He first took this boisterous side of his to the commentary box, adding a dash of outrageous humour to drive home his cricketing points.

From likening statistics to bikinis and wickets to wives, the references he drew were flamboyant -- and often puzzling -- but carved a niche for him in the commentary box and his remarks came to be known as 'Sidhuisms'.

"Experience is the comb life gives you when you are bald," he said once. "If my aunty had a moustache, then she would be my uncle, he said on another memorable occasion.

If his utterances got him the attention behind the mic, a signature laugh, neon turbans and quirky Urdu poetry did the trick during his stint as a on stand-up comedy shows on TV. He also made some guest appearances in Punjabi and Hindi films but it was television where he looked truly at ease.

'Chhaa gaye guru', 'thoko taali', and 'chak de phatte, napp de killi' were some of his contributions to the Indian television's absurd but unforgettable one-liners in addition to his loud laugh, the consistency and frequency of which became a running joke in itself.

All this while he was a sitting for the BJP from and was often criticised for not showing up enough in his constituency.

However, it made no difference to his results as he won two tenures (2004 and 2009) from the seat.

But the who joined politics after, he had said in an interview, Atal Bihari Vajpayee invited him to do so, turned away from the BJP once he was asked to vacate his seat for before the 2014

Claiming to be fine with the decision initially, Sidhu soon began to voice his displeasure over the decision. The BJP made him a member in 2016 but still failed to pacify him.

Sidhu resigned from the upper house within months of taking oath and joined the just before the Assembly elections in 2017.

There was speculation that he would go with the and Sidhu had even formed a party with former hockey but, in the end, he decided to align himself with an established political outfit.

Elected to the from East, he was made of tourism and cultural affairs by the Amarinder Singh-led government.

But like many other temperamental public figures, Sidhu also had his run-ins with the law. The darkest chapter would easily be the 1988 road rage case.

Sidhu got into a brawl with a 65-year-old man called Gurnam ,Singh who had objected to the cricketer's car being parked in the middle of a road in Patiala. Sidhu hit Singh, who died in a hospital.

Convicted of voluntarily causing hurt by the today, Sidhu was, however, spared a jail term.

The verdict adds -- or rather closes -- another eventful chapter in his chequered life, which also includes allegations of income tax norm violations.

The case had earlier come up in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which sentenced the to three years in jail in 2006.

Cartoonist Rajneesh had then published a strip where a character was seen telling another that he felt sorry for Sidhu.

"Guys I feel sorry for are the ones who would be locked up with him for three years," the other replied.

It is Sidhu, though, who has had the last laugh. And he is laughing all the way, as he changes tyre after tyre.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, May 15 2018. 16:35 IST