Budhisagar Krishnappa Kunderan
October 02, 1939, Mulki, Karnataka
June 23, 2006, Scotland, (aged 66y 264d)
Also Known As
changed name from Budhisagar Krishnappa Kunderam in 1964
Right hand Bat
Right arm Medium
Born on the same date as Mahatma Gandhi, Budhi Kunderan was rather more violent in his chosen profession, hitting the cricket ball with a power and confidence that came naturally to Indian wicketkeepers who knew they had two strings to their bow. He opened India's batting in 21 of the 34 innings he played, averaging 41 in that position. His Karnataka captain V Subramanya rated Kunderan as a better batsman and wicketkeeper than his contemporary Farokh Engineer. Kunderan played his early cricket in Mumbai but, with Naren Tamhane established as wicketkeeper there, Kunderan turned his attention to Railways. It was a good move. Kunderan was picked to play for India even before he had played a single first-class game and showed his gratitude to his Railways captain Lala Amarnath by scoring a double-century on Ranji debut.
At 20 Kunderan played for India ahead of the older Engineer and gave a glimpse of his approach by getting out hit-wicket to the Australian fast bowler Ian Meckiff while attempting to pull him. "He took batting into a different dimension," says Indian offspinner Erapalli Prasanna. "The 192 he made in Chennai against England in 1964 was an innings that was ahead of its time - the sort that today's big hitters would play. As wicketkeeper he showed the others how to keep to BS Chandrasekhar, using his body as a second line of defence. He was flamboyant, versatile and a good human being." Kunderan was the first wicketkeeper to score over 500 runs in a series, as he did in that 1963-64 series against England. Three years later he opened injury-hit India's bowling in a Test match in England. That was to be his last Test. He was 29.
Rather like the characters Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Tom Stoppard's play, things happened around Kunderan that he could not control or understand. He started in Mumbai but moved to Railways from where he replaced the Mumbai wicketkeeper in the Indian team. He played innings of coruscating brilliance for his country without any guarantee that he would be picked for the next Test. He was picked when he was not doing particularly well and dropped when he was not doing badly. When he went to play league cricket in Lancashire after the 1967 series, the cricket board simply forgot to call him for the series in Australia.
He returned to play Ranji cricket for Karnataka (he was born in Mangalore) and was happy for a few seasons. He emigrated to Glasgow in the late 1970s and even turned out for Scotland in the Benson & Hedges Cup in the early 1980s. He was diagnosed
with lung cancer in October 2005.
Suresh Menon, The Wisden Cricketer
'I was terribly disillusioned and disappointed that the Indian Cricket Board did not invite me to attend the Jubilee Test match at Bombay,' said Budhi Kunderan, the former Indian Test wicketkeeper. 'I did not imagine that certain remarks made by me to an Indian journalist in 1970 on my retirement from first-class cricket would have been held against me. Although the Indian Press at that time apparently approved of my criticism I now deeply regret my actions, made, unfortunately, at a time of stress brought about by my wife's illness. I would have been proud and honoured to have been with all the other Indian Test cricketers in Bombay. I have sent a letter to the Indian Board explaining the position in 1970 and have given an unreserved apology.'
Kunderan, 40, who has proved a popular figure in Scottish cricket as professional with Drumpellier and is undisputedly still a fine player, has received some compensation from the Scottish Cricket Union. Scotland's ruling body have included him in the Scotland squad which under the managership of Brian Close will do battle for the very first time in this summer's Benson & Hedges Cup. His presence in the side should provide the necessary stability. He played 18 times for India and in 1963-64 scored two centuries against England, 192 at Madras and 100 at Delhi.
Wisden Cricket Monthly, 1980
Batting & Fielding