Amit Roy on efforts to gain recognition for talented prince of the Golden Age

A hundred years after Prince Ranjitsinhji became the first non-white to play cricket for England, a London-based historian is stepping up her campaign to secure national recognition for the legendary Indian cricketer.

Kusoom Vadgama says she is proud that cricketers of Indian ori- gin, such as Nasser Hussain, Min Patel and Ronnie Irani are now representing England, and against a visiting team from India.

Vadgama aims to use this week`s third Test to make a plea on Ranji`s behalf. Her attempts have so far been unsuccessful.

"There is a gate at Lord`s named after W. G. Grace. Ranji is not a lesser person."

Grace said of Ranji in 1908: "I assure you that you will never see a batsman to beat him if you live for a hundred years." Gilbert Jessop described Ranji as "the most brilliant figure during cricket`s most brilliant period".

Ranji, the adopted son of the ruler of an Indian state, was born in 1872 and died in 1933. Though he flitted between India and Britain, he spent most of his time in England.

He studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, but did not spoil royal tradition by doing something so common as getting a de- gree. At Cambridge, where he was awarded a Blue, he was called "Mr Smith". In his debut for Sussex, the county he was to captain, he scored 77 and 150 against MCC at Lord`s.

When the time arrives for cricket history to be written, the name of Prince Ranjitsinhji will be inscribed upon the roll of fame.

He made his Test debut aged 23 against Australia at Old Trafford in July 1896, scoring 62 in the first innings and 154 not out in the second, though it was not enough to prevent an Australian victory by three wickets.

The Strand Magazine`s correspondent said that Ranji had won the hearts of the British people. "It would be difficult to discover a more popular player throughout the length and breadth of the Empire. When the time arrives for cricket history to be written, the name of Prince Ranjitsinhji will be inscribed upon the roll of fame."

Vadgama claims this has not happened. She has tried since 1984 to persuade the English cricket authorities to honour Ranji`s memory by naming something after him or installing his portrait or bust.

Although she has had sympathetic responses from the MCC, Sussex, the National Portrait Gallery, the Indian High Commission and the Indian Gymkhana Club, there has been no action. She is even offering to pay thousands of pounds of her own money to fund the project.

"Nobody wants to take it on," says Vadgama, whose family come from Nawangar, the former state in western India of which Ranji was installed as the ruler in 1907.

In domestic Indian cricket, the state sides contest the Ranji Trophy. Vadgama does not seek any such accolade, merely some recognition of an outstanding talent and servant of the English game.