Nagraj Gollapudi and Bharath Seervi
Former left-arm spinners Rajinder Goel and Padmakar Shivalkar will receive the CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award this season. Starting this year, the BCCI has also decided to institute the Lifetime Achievement Award for Women with India's first Test captain Shanta Rangaswamy being the inaugural recipient of the honour. The trio would each get a cash prize of INR 25 lakhs too.
The winners were chosen by a three-person jury comprising the pair of Ramachandra Guha and Diana Edulji (both of them sit on the Supreme Court-appointed committee of administrators that presently supervises the BCCI) along with senior journalist N Ram. Former India and Tamil Nadu legspinner VV Kumar and the late Ramakant Desai, former India and Bombay fast bowler, will have been named as recipients of a Special Award for their yeoman services to Indian cricket. This award also carries a cash prize of INR 15 lakhs each.
Both Goel, who played for Haryana and Delhi, and Shivalkar, who represented Bombay, never played for India. Still, their legend is well-known in Indian cricket history. In the mid-1960s, when Bishan Singh Bedi was making his mark, the question that was asked was, "is he as good as Goel?" Ironically, one reason Goel never played for India was because Bedi had cemented his position in the Indian team. The closest Goel came to play for India was in the unofficial Test against Ceylon in 1964-65.
In 1985, Goel retired aged 43. He had 637 wickets in the Ranji Trophy, a record that stands to date, going past VV Kumar's tally. He had an incredible 53 five-fors and 17 ten-wicket match hauls. Overall, Goel played 157 matches and got 750 wickets.
Another young man who was denied an India berth as his career clashed with that of Bedi was Shivalkar. A product of the famous Shivaji Park Gymkhana, Shivalkar's accuracy to land the ball repeatedly on the same spot and then spin it viciously made him unique. He made his Ranji debut at 22 and retired when he was 48. During that time, Shivalkar finished with an aggregate of 589 first-class wickets at an average of 19.69 in 124 matches, between the 1961-62 and 1987-88 seasons. Shivalkar's 361 Ranji wickets came for Bombay, most by any bowler. He had 11 ten-wicket hauls (joint-second).
While recognizing their efforts, the awards committee praised Goel and Shivalkar saying: "The two left-arm spinners traumatized the batsmen picking wickets in a heap."
Rangaswamy, who is 63, played 16 Tests for India out of which she led in 12 matches. In her own words, Rangaswamy was a batting allrounder. She shared the new ball and was a hard-hitting, middle-order batsman. There were many other notable firsts attached to her name: she scored the first Test century, hit the first six and led India to their first series victory (against West Indies in 1976). Rangaswamy, who was the chairman of the selectors till 2016, had also won the Arjuna Award in 1976.
Rangaswamy was thrilled to receive the BCCI honour, and felt it was a reward to the collective brilliance of the "pioneers" of Indian women's cricket. "It is more a recognition of the services rendered to the game of Indian women's cricket by the pioneers, those founding mothers if I can use the word. Because had we done badly in the initial stages the game would have just withered away. We did well. We could rub shoulders with international teams and that ensured the longevity of the game. And that I feel is the single-most significant contribution of all of us. With pride I can say - yes, we did it."