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NAWAB IFTIKHAR ALI OF PATAUDI, the third Indian cricketer to make a great name for himself as a batsman in this country, was born at Pataudi, in the Punjab, on March 16, 1910. Educated at the Chiefs' College, Lahore, he received his early coaching in cricket from M.G. Salter, the old Oxford Blue, and in 1926 came to England for the purpose of going up to Oxford.
When preparing for his University career he lived at Tonbridge and while there received further coaching from Frank Woolley during the winters of 1926, 1927, 1928 and 1929. Woolley very quickly came to the conclusion that he had under his charge a batsman of considerable promise and great possibilities. It is not untrue to say that in many quarters Woolley's praise of the young Indian was received a little doubtfully, but the famous Kent professional has lived to see his faith in Pataudi more than justified.
Pataudi went up to Oxford in October, 1927 but, while he played fairly well on occasion, he did not get his Blue until 1929. He also appeared against Cambridge in the two following years. Over and above his skill as a batsman he showed himself to be a fine hockey player, being in the Oxford teams of 1930 and 1931, while at billiards he represented Oxford against Cambridge for three years from 1929.
In the season in which he secured a place in the Dark Blues' team, he did little of consequence before appearing at Lord's but on that occasion accomplished two remarkably fine performances. Although most of his colleagues failed, he with a score of 106 saved the side from having to follow-on, and later on went very close to making another hundred with an innings of 84.
At his first attempt his skill in defence to begin with was extremely good and, having taken the measure of the bowling and to some extent worn it down, he hit brilliantly. He came out third in the Oxford batting figures with an average of 36.
The following season he was again third, averaging nearly 44 but he did very little against Cambridge, scoring only 5 and 20. For all that he played quite well in the earlier Oxford matches, being in excellent form against Gloucestershire, Yorkshire and Lancashire, while immediately before the University match he hit up 167 not out at Eastbourne.
He reached the height of his fame last summer when, despite the wet wickets so generally prevalent, he actually scored 1,307 runs in sixteen innings and came out at the head of the Oxford batting with an average of over 93. His form, to say the least, was amazing.
In the latter part of June in successive innings he made scores of 183 not out against The Army at Folkestone, 165 and 100 against Surrey at the Oval, 138 and 68 against Leveson Gower's XI, at Eastbourne, to wind up with 238 not out against Cambridge at Lord's. This was the highest individual score ever obtained in the University match, and singularly enough it followed on the heels of A.T. Ratchiffe's 201 for Cambridge earlier in the contest. Thus, in one game between Oxford and Cambridge, the record of 172 not out held since 1904 by J.F. Marsh, of Cambridge, was twice beaten.
Honoured by being chosen to represent the Gentlemen against the Players at Lord's he was dismissed for scores of 2 and 19, and, taking part in a few other games, he did nothing of note.
Possessed, like most men of his race, of a wonderful eye and quick footwork, Pataudi resembles neither Duleepsinhji nor the latter's famous uncle in his methods. One great feature about the majority of his big innings has been the manner in which he has shown sound restraint while mastering the bowling and, when set, exceptional ease and confidence in asserting himself as a run-getter.
As the particular ball demanded he was able to use the drive, cut, leg-hit or pull and last season, he brought to something like perfection practically every stroke in the game. Moreover he possessed the temperament for the big occasion.
It was announced towards the end of the summer that he would qualify for Worcestershire, so that if this idea is carried into effect much more should be seen of him in English cricket outside the rather limited circle with which he has hitherto been associated.