Gulabrai Sipahimalani Ramchand
July 26, 1927, Karachi, Sind (now in Pakistan), India
September 08, 2003, Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai, (aged 76y 44d)
Right hand bat
Right arm medium fast
Wisden Asia Cricket Obituary
Gulabrai `Ram' Ramchand, who died on September 7 aged 76, was a cricketer par excellence and led India to their first Test victory over the Australians in 1959. He was one of the first players to endorse commercial brands and after his playing days were over, he made a mark in the corporate world as a senior manager with Air India.
Cricket was his great passion and he followed the game with enthusiasm - so much so that the day before he died, he sent his wife out from his bedside at the Hinduja Hospital in Mumbai to get the latest score in the Test between Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Ramchand had strong views and was not afraid to air them, though he was characteristically humble and rarely sought the limelight. Several years ago, he was stood at an awards function, collecting autographs of current cricketers for his niece. Suddenly a crowd of cricket fans engulfed him. The man the crowd was seeking walked up to Ramchand and said: "Sir, my name is Mark Taylor. I am here to receive an award on behalf of my team. Can I request to shake the hand of the man who led India to their first win over us?"
A few months ago Ramchand showed me his cricket album after a fair amount of persuasion. He was particularly proud of a photograph that showed him being showered with garlands of marigold after India beat Australia for the first time in 1959 at Kanpur in the second of a five-Test series that would be Ramchand's only stint as captain. The joy and satisfaction on his face sent a frisson of excitement down my spine.
Ramchand's overall record in Test cricket - 1,180 runs at 24.58 and 41 wickets at 46.31 - is not an accurate reflection of his abilities. He was a brilliant allrounder: an explosive batsman, a very good opening bowler and a superb close catcher. In modern cricket he would have been a great one-day player. He made two hundreds: the first was against New Zealand at Calcutta in 1955-56, and the second the innings he is most remembered for - 109 at Bombay against the mighty Australian attack of Ray Lindwall, Alan Davidson and Richie Benaud in 1956.
Ramchand was the sort of figure - rare in Indian cricket - who lives on in cricketing lore as much as he does in the record books; everybody who saw him play has vivid memories of his swashbuckling style, or has a favourite Ramchand story to tell. One such has him challenging Freddie Trueman in the Lord's Test of 1952 and smashing him for several boundaries on the way to 42.
In domestic cricket Ramchand was a colossal performer. His first-class batting average for Bombay in the Ranji Trophy was an incredible 75.55 (against an overall average of just over 36), and his highest score was 230 not out for Bombay against Maharashtra. His best bowling performance was 8 for 12 against Saurashtra in 1959. Ramchand was a true allrounder in both the cricketing and the general sense of the term. He was suave and always smartly dressed, articulate, well-spoken, and a family man to the core.
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