Columns / Features

1948

The Indian world record thwarted by a sulk

Martin Williamson looks back at BB Nimbalkar's innings of 443 not out ... and a record that would have been but for a princely sulk

Martin Williamson

November 11, 2006

Text size: A | A



BB Nimbalkar: 'I was left stranded in the middle of the ground' © Cricinfo
Enlarge
The Ranji Trophy match between Maharashtra and Kathiawar in December 1948 has gone down in the record books for two things. One is that the result was a rarity in that one side - Kathiawar - forfeited the match as a result of boredom - and the other is that during it Bhausaheb Babasaheb Nimbalkar set what still remains the record for the highest first-class score by an Indian.

The match came in an era of big scores in the Ranji Trophy, partly caused by the competition rules which stated that in the event of a drawn match the side leading after the first innings were the winners.

On a balmy December day at Poona, Kathiawar were bowled out for 238 on the first day of the four-day match, and by the close Maharashtra were well placed at 132 for 1. Nimbalkar, a 29-year-old right-hand batsman, joined KV Bhandarkar at 81 for 1. They were not to be parted until shortly before the close on the second day, by which time they had added 455 for the second wicket in a little over five hours. Bhandarkar was dismissed for 205, but Nimbalkar found another ally in SD Deodhar, and brought up his 300 in the last over.

The third day started with Maharashtra on 587 for 2, and the relentless run-scoring continued unchecked. Nimbalkar and Deodhar put on 242 for the third wicket. There was a slight wobble when Deodhar fell within sight of a hundred and then Mohan Lal soon followed, but Nimbalkar pressed on. He passed 400 and headed towards the world-record - Don Bradman's 452. By the time the weary Kathiawar fielders took tea - they stayed in the middle in those days - Nimbalkar had made 443 out of a total of 826 for 4. There could only be one result, and all that there was to play for was pride and personal glory.

However, His Highness the Thakur Sahib of Rajkot, Kathiawar 's captain whose title was more impressive than his ability, had had enough of chasing leather. He gave his opposite number an ultimatum - declare or he and his side would go home.

Neither side would back down, although Raja Gokhale, Maharashtra 's captain, and the match officials did ask Kathiawar to continue for two overs to allow Nimbalkar to break The Don's record. They refused, trooped off to pack their bags and then headed to the station. "They kept saying that you have already scored so many runs, why do you want to get more," Nimbalkar recalled years later. "Their skipper felt that the name of the Kathiawar team would figure in the record books for the wrong reasons. I was left stranded in the middle of the ground.

"I didn't like the approach of the Kathiawar team. How could they be so unsporting? Once I came to know that I was just 10 runs short of a world record, I was desperate to achieve it because it would have put Sir Don's name behind me. But this didn't happen."

Nimbalkar explained that it was only at tea that he became aware of the record. "Had I known, I would have gone for the runs. My captain sent me a message that I should stay at the wicket, so I did just as I was asked. I did not put my personal objectives ahead of the side. I played for the team."

Nimbalkar had batted for eight hours and 14 minutes and had hit 46 fours and a six. And Bradman's was not the only record under threat. Maharashtra were within sight of the highest score in the Ranji Trophy, 912, made by Holkar four years earlier.

There was some consolation for Nimbalkar. "I remember that I had got a personal message from Sir Don Bradman that I should go for the record and he congratulated me as well. I still remember he ranked my innings above his own, such was the greatness of The Don. Even though he had the world record and I had only the record in India, he still rated my innings as better."

Despite a good record in first-class cricket - he scored 4841 runs at 47.93 in 80 matches - there was to be no international recognition for Nimbalkar. The closest he came was in 1949-50, when he was chosen for an Indian XI in an unofficial Test against a Commonwealth XI. "I think I was really good enough to play for India in Tests with a splendid performance," Nimbalkar reflected. "I don't know why the selectors sidelined me all the time. What really hurt me was that some of the less talented players got a chance to represent the country."

Is there an incident from the past you would like to know more about? E-mail us with your comments and suggestions.

Bibliography
Various newspapers

Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo

RSS Feeds: Martin Williamson

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

TopTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
Martin WilliamsonClose
Martin Williamson Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.
News | Features Last 3 days
News | Features Last 3 days