Are you a die-hard Indian cricket fan? ‘India is my religion and Sachin is my God’ kind of fan? You are probably someone who takes ‘sick leave’ when India and Pakistan play each other. You are someone who feels a little better in life when India are doing well overseas (which happens rarely). You can rattle off the batting and bowling averages of your favourite players from memory. But like most things Indian, cricket also has a very rich history and most people are unaware about it. Let us look at the 5 things you probably didn’t know about it.Facts courtesy: The Great Tamasha: Cricket, Corruption and the Turbulent Rise of Modern India by James Astill
#1 The Bombay Quadrangular
If you thought Ranji Trophy was the first of its kind tournament in India then think again. In colonial India, an annual tournament was played in Bombay where the teams were divided along the religious lines namely Europeans, Parsis, Hindus and Muslims.
This tournament went on from 1912 to 1936, after which a new team was added called ‘the Rest’. ‘the Rest’ comprised of Buddhists, Jews and Indian Christians and there after it came to be known as the Pentangular. It was played right until 1946 when the BCCI scrapped it and replaced it with a zonal tournament.
#2 Ranjitsinhji - Never Indian
We all know that India’s premier domestic tournament, the Ranji Trophy, is named after Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji who has also been credited for inventing two cricket strokes - leg glance and late cut. But surprisingly he never played for India.
He was an England and Sussex cricketer through and through. In 1911, he refused to captain an all Indian team that toured England or to contribute to its expenses. He even forbade his equally illustrious nephew Duleepsinhji from playing for India in the 1932 Test tour. He often said: “Duleep and I are English cricketers”.
#3 The Palwankars - Untouchables
At the time when the practice of untouchability was at its peak, cricket proved to be a great leveler of life.
The household ofPalwankar, a caste termed to be Untouchables by the higher caste Hindus gave India some fine cricketers. They were four brothers. The eldest Palwankar,Baloo was a player who bowled left-arm orthodox spin and created havoc during the All India tour in 1911 taking 114 wickets at an average of 18.84.
His brother Vithal Palwankar, who went on to become the first Dalit captain of the Hindus cricket team. Theirlegend was such that in the first three decades of the 20th century, the Hindus team always had a Palwankar brother in their playing XI.
#4 One-eyed Nawab
Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi holds the unique distinction of being the youngest Test cricket captain. He became Indias captain at the age of 21 in 1962 when a bouncer from West Indian Charlie Griffiths hit Pataudis predecessor Nari Contractor in the head.
It would be right to say that it was this right handed batsman who taught India how to win. Before him India had won 5 matches out of78 in 3 decades, while under him they won 8 in a decade including a series victory against New Zealand in 1967. But this indomitable spirit can be expectedto be found in a man who didnt give up on the sport even when he lost one of his eye to an accident.
#5 The rags to riches story of BCCI
Is any conversation about Indian cricket complete without mentioning the big bosses at BCCI? I dont think so. BCCI may be rolling in cash these days, but there was a time when they were poor (surprise, surprise).Hard to imagine right? But in 1983, BCCI had to ask Lata Mangeshkar to do a benefit concert in Delhi so that they could give a Rs. 100,000 bonus to its World Cupwinning team.
In times when Star Sports is paying Rs. 40 crores per match, it is tough to believe that in the 1980s Doordarshan charged BCCI to broadcast matches to the Indian audience. This changed after Jagmohan Dalmiya took over the reins of BCCI and sold the broadcast rights of 1996 World Cup to Trans World International (TWI).