Calcutta: Even off the field, it’s a sad time for Indian cricket as November has taken away two pucca gentlemen.
Both, of course, were very fine players.
Cancer claimed Polly Umrigar, a former captain, on November 7. On Wednesday, Hanumant Singh (centurion on Test debut) passed away following dengue-induced complications.
Much would be written about Polly, but today’s lot may not be knowing too much about Hanumant.
He was a Prince, yes, but had no airs.
Hanumant wasn’t known to raise his voice, but was party to one of Indian cricket’s most sensational decisions — the dropping of Kapil Dev, on disciplinary grounds, after the Kotla Test versus England in 1984-85.
As the next match was at the Eden and Kapil had a huge following, the Board appeared keen on getting the selectors to have a rethink.
The quintet, though, stood firm.
Actually, Hanumant would have resigned had the Board put the selectors under unbearable pressure.
“By the evening, I may not be a selector,” is what he’d told The Telegraph before setting out for the HHI, where a meeting had been called.
As it turned out, Hanumant didn’t have to put in his papers.
Expressing sorrow at his passing away, Kapil remarked that he’d “never” borne a grudge against Hanumant or the other selectors.
Speaking exclusively, Kapil said: “The selectors did their job… Sometimes, people get carried away, but I never held a grudge… Hanumant’s passing away is very sad…”
Besides having been a selector and manager, Hanumant was once the Board’s National Coach and also served as an International Cricket Council Match Referee in the pre-Elite Panel days.
More recently, six years ago, he was on the panel which picked India’s first coach from overseas — John Wright.
If the regulars at the Wankhede are missing Polly ‘Kaka’, those at the Cricket Club of India will begin to miss ‘Chotu’ Hanumant.