CRICKETER OF THE YEAR 1930

Kumar Shri Duleepsinhji

KUMAR SHRI DULEEPSINHJI, if not so famous as his renowned uncle, the Jam Sahib of Nawanagar (K.S. Ranjitsinhji), has already accomplished enough in cricket to be regarded as one of the great batsmen of the younger generation.

Born in India on June 13, 1905, he came to England and at Cheltenham made his mark as a schoolboy cricketer almost at once. In 1921, his first year in the College eleven, he had a batting average of 31 and took thirty-nine wickets for just over 17 runs apiece. The next season his batting average was 26 and, with his very slow bowling, he obtained fifty wickets for under 14 runs each, while in his third and last year at Cheltenham he came out at the top of the batting table with an average of over 52 and was probably the best schoolboy bat of the year.

Playing later on for Lord's Schools v. The Rest he enjoyed a great personal triumph, scoring 108 and, in the second innings, taking five wickets for 41 runs. His bowling figures that season for Cheltenham came out at thirty-five wickets at a cost of over 18 runs each.

Duleepsinhji did not proceed to Cambrdige until after the cricket season of 1924, but his performances for his school had clearly stamped him as a remarkable batsman and, stepping into the Cambridge eleven in 1925, he scored 932 runs for the Light Blues, made two hundreds -- 130 against Somerset at Bath and 128 against the Army at Cambridge -- and finished up second in batting with an average of just over 49.

The University match that year was left drawn, but Duleepsinhji had the satisfaction, as a Freshman, of scoring 75. In 1926 his average was not so high -- just under 35 -- but he headed the table and played the only three-figure innings for Cambridge -- 118 against the Free Foresters.

Qualified by this time for Sussex, he attained the further distinction of finishing at the top of the County batting with an aggregate of 696 runs and an average of nearly 35. He scored 132 against Middlesex and 115 against Hampshire and narrowly missed equalling the triumph of his uncle (who in his first match for the County had made 150), by putting together 97 against Leicestershire on his opening appearance for Sussex.

The following year he seemed destined for wonderful things, starting with 101 against Yorkshire at Cambridge and, in the next match, against Middlesex, scoring 43 and not out 254. Soon afterwards, however, he was stricken by a serious illness and, subsequent to the end of May, played no more cricket that season.

A winter in Switzerland effected a great improvement in his health, but in 1928 he had to go very quietly for some time, missing the first four matches at Cambridge but playing delightfully in scoring 52 and 37 against Oxford at Lord's. Completely restored to health, Duleepsinhji assisted Sussex regularly to the end of the season and, in nineteen innings, actually scored 1,082 runs, once more heading the batting with an average of just over 60. Starting off with 121 in eighty minutes against Glamorgan he subsequently hit up five more scores of over a hundred.

Last season he was again in brilliant form, seven times exceeding the hundred, with 246 and 202 as his best scores, and, with an aggregate of 2,028 in thirty-six innings, once more coming out at the top of the batting with an average of over 56. His most startling performance was in the match against Kent at Hastings in August when he followed 115 in the first innings with 246 in the second. Only on four previous occasions in first-class cricket had a player in one match made a score of 100 in one innings and over 200 in another.

He took part in the first Test match against the South Africans at Birmingham but failed and, unwisely as many people thought, the Selection Committee did not pick him again. To the surprise of nearly everybody he was not chosen for the Gentlemen at Lord's.

Since his school days he has not been considered as a bowler although on occasion he has taken a wicket or two. All his energies have been directed towards batting and it can be said that at present time he stands as a wonderfully well equipped run-getter. Like his uncle, he possesses a remarkable eye and a pair of most supple wrists.

At one time he had his limitations as an off-side player but this one weakness in his batting is now overcome and few other cricketers can drive on either side of the wicket so hard and with such beautiful direction. Good footwork makes him the complete batsman.

In addition, he is a splendid slip fielder and might be even better if he did not sometimes stand in too close. At the end of last season he visited New Zealand as a member of the M.C.C. team touring there.

© John Wisden & Co