Friday, Dec 09, 2022

Regal Stroke-Maker

Regal Stroke-Maker

A deep thinker on the game who rose to become an ICC match referee, Hanumant started his Test career with a bang -- a century on debut against England.

Belonging to the royal family of Banswaras of Rajasthan, 'Prince' Hanumant Singh was regal in his stroke-making and a superb player of spin right through his first-class career which spanned more than two decades.

Hanumant, a deep thinker on the game who rose to become an International Cricket Council match referee and officiated in nine Tests and 54 one-day internationals, started his Test career with a bang in 1963-64 - a century (105) on debut at Delhi in the fourth Test against Mike Smith's England team.

Born on March 29, 1939, Hanumant - nicknamed 'Chhotu', came on the scene when the Indian middle order was packed with the likes of skipper Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, Chandu Borde, Salim Durrani and Vijay Manjrekar, not to speak of M L Jaisimha and Dilip Sardesai.

Hanumant could not sustain his early brilliance though he came close to scoring a hundred against Bob Simpson's strong Australian outfit in the very next season. He made 94 at Madras, but thereafter his scores were at best modest.

He played with moderate success against the New Zealanders in 1965 and the Garfield Sobers-led West Indies team of 1966-67 that had a strong pace battery led by the great Wesley Hall.

Hanumant was picked for India's disastrous visit to England in 1967, and made 73 runs in four innings (two Tests) on that tour for a meagre average of 25.75 and was largely overlooked for India duties after the team's return.

The quirks of selection policy those days saw Hanumant dropped for India's second-ever tour of Australia in 1968 from a team that had three purveyors of left arm spin -- all rounder Rusi Surti, Bapu Nadkarni and Bishen Singh Bedi.

It was a huge blow for the stroke-maker who was making a career with the State Bank of India and he then faded from the selectors' view, barring a lone appearance against Graham Dowling's New Zealand team in the third and final Test at Hyderabad in 1969.

Hanumant and his elder brother Suryaveer Singh, who died in a road accident aged 65 in Ahmedabad a few years ago, were two of the mainstays of Rajasthan batting and the former continued to play first class cricket till he hung up his boots in 1978-79.

In a Test career spanning seven seasons at a time when matches were few and far between for India, Hanumant represented the country in 14 Tests, 12 of these at home, and amassed 686 runs with one hundred and five fifties.

He averaged 31.18 in 24 innings with 105 as his highest score and also took 11 catches.

Hanumant's first class record was more impressive. He played 207 matches, scored over 12,000 runs with 29 hundreds to his credit and averaged a healthy 43.90 per innings.

The soft-spoken player, a close friend of former Board president Raj Singh Dungarpur since their playing days for Rajasthan, scored over 6,100 runs, including 15 tons in Ranji Trophy alone and was close to bettering the great Vijay Hazare's then record tally of 6,312 when he called it a day.



Must Read