KC Ebrahim 1919-2007 November 12, 2007

'Bat like KC and the runs will come'

KC Ibrahim, the former Indian Test player, died today, aged 88 in Karachi. Madhav Mantri, India's former Test wicketkeeper, was his team-mate in Mumbai and remembers his former captain's phenomenal appetite for runs.

KC, as he was known in the Bombay circles, studied in St Xavier's college in Bombay. He was a very good student in college and some of the professors felt he should have carried on in the academic line. KC was a solid player and one who believed in staying at the wicket for as long as possible. He had a good range of strokes (a fierce cut, drive and glance) but was known to be one who hung in there to grind out runs.

We used to play a lot of cricket on turf wickets then and he handled some tough seam and spin bowling. He was a big star for the Muslims in the Bombay Pentangular games and once in 1944-45 guided them to victory single-handedly (with a century) against the Hindus. They were chasing 298 and his 137 was one of the finest innings I saw.

He was a shrewd strategist and made it a point, along with Vijay Merchant, to always educate us about the game. At the end of a day's play he would urge us to sit on the outfield and analyse the day's play
He began as a middle-order batsman and was converted into an opener later. Like Sunil Gavaskar and Virender Sehwag after him, he made the transition without any trouble.

He was a fine captain, someone who believed in backing his players. It was because of him that I got a long run in the side, at a time when wicketkeepers used to be changed after every game. He was a shrewd strategist and made it a point, along with Vijay Merchant, to always educate us about the game. At the end of a day's play he would urge us to sit on the outfield and analyse the day's play.

KC captained Bombay to the 1948 Ranji title. It was the year when the Ranji Trophy was played in a knock-out format and we had to win every game to stay in it. We had lost the previous year's final to Holkar so KC was under a bit of pressure. He made sure we won everything convincingly. His 219 in the final [an innings built in 10-and-a-half hours] was a study in concentration and patience.

He moved to Pakistan around 1950 but his style of play was never forgotten. In the '50 and '60s young boys used to be told, 'Bat like KC. Stay at the wicket and the runs will definitely come.'

As told to Siddhartha Vaidyanathan

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