Born in a farmer’s family in Rajkot, sports didn’t come naturally to Dhiraj Parsana. But he developed interest in the gentlemen’s game gradually, even when he was donning the role of a shepherd. While carrying out this very duty he had a rendezvous with cricket. A fascination for the game grew in him, droving him to a coaching camp organised at Rajkot Gymkhana. It wasn’t easy, though, as there was resistance from home to the idea of him becoming a cricketer.
He started his first class career with Saurashtra but soon shifted to Gujarat. Based on his performance with both bat and ball in domestic season while representing Gujarat, Parsana made it to India team. He was selected in India team that faced West Indies in 1979 at Chepauk Stadium. He played two Tests.
Parsana’s knowledge about land and soil came handy when he played in England. During his stint with Durham in 1970s, he picked up interest in curatorship. Later it developed into a passion. Today, he is one of the best curators of the country. Parsana has been credited for preparing pitches for the international matches played at Motera. He also supervises those at Rajkot and Baroda during international fixtures. Parsana featured in 93 first class games in which he scored 2900 runs and scalped 320 wickets.
He remains, till date, the only cricketer from Gujarat Team to have captained Team India. In early 1960s, Nari Contractor led India team in 12 Tests, which includes famous 2-0 victory over England in three-match home series in 1961-62. He was appointed captain against arch-rivals Pakistan the previous season in 1960-61, the youngest Indian captain at the age of 26. He marshaled his troops during the five-Test series that ended in a draw. Moreover, he belongs to a group of fighters not only on but off the field as well. Nari kaka, as he was fondly known in the cricketing fraternity, has successfully negated with death when he was at the peak of his career. While leading the India team in West Indies during 1962 tour, Contractor was struck on the skull by a short delivery from Charlie Griffith during a tour match in Barbados. In those days batsmen played without helmets. Naturally, the impact was such that Contractor’s life was in danger and he underwent several emergency operations. The bouncer didn’t claim his wicket but Contractor’s international career. He finished with 1611 runs in 31 Tests.
Two years later, Contractor was playing first class cricket. Despite a brave attempt to stage a comeback to Test cricket, he never could quite make it. In a first-class career that stretched almost two decades, Contractor scored 8611 runs (39.86) with 22 hundreds.
Born in Surat, Surti’s strength was not that he was an all-rounder but his quick adaptability to medium pace or spin depending on conditions of the pitch. Also a left-handed aggressive batsman, Surti’s subtle variations in bowling saw him scoring 1200 runs and scalping 42 wickets in 26 Test matches he played for India. Considering his all-round skills, many felt he was the answer to Gary Sobers of West Indies.
He was a lion-hearted cricketer who refused to give up. In 1967-68 tour of Australia, Surti was retired hurt after been hit by a bouncer. However, he returned to accompany captain Tiger Pataudi to save India from embarrassment in the first innings.
He is also remembered for his gutsy batting in West Indies during 1962 tour. Experts feel Surti was unfortunate for having not played more Test matches.
Moreover, considering his all-round skills, it will not be wrong to say that Surti, as he is fondly known in cricketing circles, was born little too early. He would have been the captain’s choice considering the amount of cricket especially ODI and T20 played these days. He was also unfortunate to not reach the magical three-figure mark. His highest score 99 came against New Zealand at Auckland in 1968.
Surti also played first class cricket in Down Under. He is one of those few Indians who were invited to play Australia’s domestic competition. He represented Queensland. He breathed his last at the age of 76 in Mumbai. Besides Gujarat, he also represented Rajasthan in Ranji Trophy.
Former off-spinner Jasubhai Patel made his Test debut against Pakistan in Karachi Test in 1955. But he will always be remembered for the 1959 Kanpur Test against the visiting Australians. He was the architect of Team India’s first ever victory over Australians. He had already passed his prime but it was chairman of selectors and visionary Lala Amarnath who felt Patel’s whippy bowling style suited matting wicket at Green Park. So, Patel made a comeback into India team after a gap of three years. He justified Amarnath’s trust and troubled Richie Benaud’s side. In fact, batsmen like Neil Harvey, Colin McDoald, Alan Davidson and Benaud were mere spectators as Patel fractured their furniture on his way to figures of 9/69. The Gujarat spinner continued his superlative effort in the second essay. He picked up five more wickets as India successfully defended 225 runs. Patel finished with 14 wickets in the match. His figures of 9/69 stood as best for 40 long years before another spin great Anil Kumble broke it with his 10-74 against Pakistan. Patel finished with 27 wickets in seven matches at an average of 21.
Patel was the first cricketer to receive Padmashri award, fourth highest civilian award in the country. He breathed his last in 1992 at the age of 68.
Over the years, the worth of an Indian cricketer has been judged in two ways. The pundits have gone by a player’s performance in Test cricket, unarguably the most grueling form of the game, and the fans have used the performance against Pakistan as one of the key yardsticks. Ahmedabad’s stylish southpaw, Deepak Shodhan has triumphed on both counts only to be confined to the rust stats book.
Post the separation, in India’s very first Test series against arch-rivals Pakistan in 1952, Shodhan scored a brilliant century batting at as low as number eight. His attacking knock of 110 with India struggling at 179-6 at Calcuttta’s Eden Gardens brought the Indian innings back on track. Post his century, in what should have been a career in the fast lane, Shodhan shockingly fell off the radar after playing just two games. Despite being included as a specialist batsman and proving his worth in the debut game, he was made to bat at no.8 position, a place reserved for bowlers. What’s even more puzzling is that Shodhan’s Test average of 60.33 is still the best in India’s Test history. Shodhan breathed his last at the ripe age of 87 in May 2016
Twenty –three-year old Axar Patel is a perfect example of the hidden talent residing in tier two cities, that just needs to be shaped. The Nadiad-born all-rounder made headlines when he led Gujarat to U-19 Col CK Nayudu Trophy in 2012. A raw talent with abundance of potential, Axar was inducted in Gujarat senior team in 2013. Included as left-arm spinner, Axar also came handy with the bat in the lower-middle order. Mumbai Indians picked him up for the 2013 Indian Premier League season but he caught attention of cricket fans with his stupendous show with the ball in the India Under-23s' triumph in the ACC Emerging Teams Cup 2013, scalping seven wickets, including a four-for in the penultimate round match against UAE. In early 2014, he was named the BCCI Under-19 cricketer of the year for the 2012-13 season. Axar shifted his base to Kings XI Punjab in IPL 2014 where he excelled with the ball. Bowling at an economy less than seven in the shortest format of the game, Axar got the maiden national call in 2014 when India travelled to Bangladesh for ODI series. Axar joined IPL hat-trick club with his feat against Gujarat Lions in the 2016 edition. The youngster was also a part of India team in ICC World Cup 2015 played in Australia-New Zealand. With his agility and swift fielding, Axar has cemented his place in India ODI and T20 squads.
He is one genuine fast bowler India has produced. Jasprit Bumrah is among the rare breed of bowlers who can bowl yorkers at their own will.
Till 16, Bumrah never imagined about playing at the highest level. But his supersonic rise from U-19 to Gujarat T20 squad and Mumbai Indians in Indian Premier League, Bumrah took the cricketing season by storm in 2013. As a student, he learnt all the tricks of the trade at Mumbai Indians camp where he had Lasith Malinga along with legends Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting as guides. Unfortunately, injury in 2014 delayed his international debut. He was out of competitive games for almost a year. But with age on his side, 23-year-old left no stone unturned and returned in 2015 with a bang.
Bumrah became overnight sensation after making a dream debut in Australia. He was included when Indian dressing room was suffering from the ugly stain of four successive defeats in the five match ODI series in January 2016. His impressive figures (2/40) on his debut halted Australia’s juggernaut and saved India from a certain whitewash. His figures of 3-23 in first T20I three days later proved crucial as India regained the lost confidence to overcome Kangaroos. Since then Bumrah with his sling-arm action has become integral part of Indian bowling attack. He was part of Indian battery in ICC World Cup 2015 held in Australia-New Zealand in 2016. In ten ODIs the 23-year-old has scalped 21 wickets and has 28 in 21 T20Is. He doesn’t like swirl or sensationalism. He hates glamour quotient in cricket and says on field challenges gives him a kick. Limelight is something that doesn’t brighten his world.
Someone has rightly said- the difference between possible and impossible lies between man’s determinations. Gujarat wicketkeeper-batsman and captain, Parthiv Patel personifies it. He stormed on the international stage at the age of 17 when India toured England in 2002. Emergence of MS Dhoni saw Parthiv’s falling off from the selectors’ radar. However, he never gave up. Season after seasons he continued to lead and score for Gujarat.
Over the years, Parthiv matured as a cricketer. His batting and keeping skills have been terrific. Even after standing for 100 overs behind the wickets, Parthiv has been opened the innings for Gujarat. The year 2015 was exceptional for the 31-year-old.
In the second half of the Indian premier league 2015, Parthiv made his presence felt with more than 300 runs for the eventual winners Mumbai Indians. His contributions were crucial. In the same year he hit his maiden first List-A hundred to lead Gujarat to their first Vijay Hazare Trophy title. It was icing on the cake when he notched up a century in India A colours during Deodhar Trophy.
Eventually, Parthiv’s hard work was noticed and acknowledged. Dhoni had announced retirement from Test cricket and his replacement Bengal wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha suffered injury during home series versus England in 2016. The southpaw grabbed the opportunity with both hands to make a successful comeback.
The Gujarat Cricket Association has announced Rs 3 crore as incentive for victorious Gujarat Ranji team which won the prestigious domestic tournament for the first time this season. Led from the front by Parthiv Patel, Gujarat defeated 41-time champions Mumbai by five wickets to lift their maiden Ranji Trophy title in Indore. Talking to PTI, GCA vice-president Parimal Nathwani said: “This is in addition to Rs 2crore from BCCI.” Gujarat had once before reached the final in 1950-51, but were defeated by Holkar team at Indore. Nathwani describing the triumph as a historic win. “Gujarat team led by Patel created history by winning the Ranji trophy for the first time in last 66 years,” he said. GCA president Amit Shah, who is also the BJP resident, congratulated Gujarat team for their historic achievement.
2015–16 Vijay Hazare Trophy is the 14th season of the Vijay Hazare Trophy, a List A cricket tournament in India. It was contested by 27 domestic cricket teams of India The final was contested by Delhi and Gujarat. It was only the second time they have played each other in a one-day game. Gujarat won the final by 139 runs to claim their first Vijay Hazare title. They advanced to play in the 2015–16 Deodhar Trophy.
2014–15 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy was the sixth season of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, a Twenty20 cricket tournament in India. It was contested by 27 domestic cricket teams of India.