Tuesday, December 31, 2013

35 of the greatest batsmen in nearly 150 years of First-class and Test cricket history

WG Grace (England) ….. Tests span: 1880-1899,  Matches 22,  Highest Score 170,  Runs 1,098,  Average 32.29,  2 Centuries,  5 Fifties; ….. First-class span: 1865-1908,  Matches 870,  Highest Score 344,  Runs 54,211,  Average 39.45,  124 Hundreds,  251 Fifties.

KS Ranjitsinhji (England) ….. Tests span: 1896-1902,  Matches 15,  Highest Score 175,  Runs 989,  Average 44.95,  2 Centuries,  6 Fifties; ….. First-class span: 1893-1920,  Matches 307,  Highest Score 285*,  Runs 24,692,  Average 56.37,  72 Hundreds,  109 Fifties.  

Victor Trumper (Australia) ….. Tests span: 1899-1912,  Matches 48,  Highest Score 214*,  Runs 3,163,  Average 39.04,  8 Centuries,  13 Fifties; ….. First-class span: 1894-1914,  Matches 255,  Highest Score 300*,  Runs 16,939,  Average 44.57,  42 Hundreds,  87 Fifties.

Charlie McCartney (Australia) ….. Tests span: 1907-1926,  Matches 35,  Highest Score 170,  Runs 2,131,  Average 41.78,  7 Centuries,  9 Fifties; ….. First-class span: 1905-1927,  Matches 249,  Highest Score 345,  Runs 15,019,  Average 45.78,  49 Hundreds,  53 Fifties.

Jack Hobbs (England) ….. Tests span: 1908-1930,  Matches 61,  Highest Score 211,  Runs 5,410,  Average 56.94,  15 Centuries,  28 Fifties; ….. First-class span: 1905-1934,  Matches 834,  Highest Score 316*,  Runs 61,760,  Average 50.70,  199 Hundreds,  273 Fifties.

Frank Woolley (England) ….. Tests span: 1909-1934,  Matches 64,  Highest Score 154,  Runs 3,283,  Average 36.07,  5 Centuries,  23 Fifties; ….. First-class span: 1906-1938,  Matches 978,  Highest Score 305*,  Runs 58,959,  Average 40.77,  145 Hundreds,  295 Fifties. 

Bill Ponsford (Australia) ….. Tests span: 1924-1934,  Matches 29,  Highest Score 266,  Runs 2,122,  Average 48.22,  7 Centuries,  6 Fifties; ….. First-class span: 1920-1934,  Matches 162,  Highest Score 437,  Runs 13,819,  Average 65.18,  47 Hundreds,  43 Fifties.

Wally Hammond (England) ….. Tests span: 1927-1947,  Matches 85,  Highest Score 336*,  Runs 7,249,  Average 58.45,  22 Centuries,  24 Fifties; ….. First-class span: 1920-1951,  Matches 634,  Highest Score 336*,  Runs 50,551,  Average 56.10,  167 Hundreds,  185 Fifties.

Don Bradman (Australia) ….. Tests span: 1928-1948,  Matches 52,  Highest Score 334,  Runs 6,996,  Average 99.94,  29 Centuries,  13 Fifties; ….. First-class span: 1927-1949,  Matches 234,  Highest Score 452*,  Runs 28,067,  Average 95.14,  117 Hundreds,  69 Fifties.

George Headley (West Indies) ….. Tests span: 1930-1954,  Matches 22,  Highest Score 270*,  Runs 2,190,  Average 60.83,  10 Centuries,  5 Fifties; ….. First-class span: 1927-1954,  Matches 103,  Highest Score 344*,  Runs 9,921,  Average 69.86,  33 Hundreds,  44 Fifties.

Stan McCabe (Australia) ….. Tests span: 1930-1938,  Matches 39,  Highest Score 232,  Runs 2,748,  Average 48.21,  6 Centuries,  13 Fifties; ….. First-class span: 1928-1942,  Matches 182,  Highest Score 240,  Runs 11,951,  Average 49.38,  29 Hundreds,  68 Fifties.

Bruce Mitchell (South Africa) ….. Tests span: 1929-1949,  Matches 42,  Highest Score 189*,  Runs 3,471,  Average 48.88,  8 Centuries,  21 Fifties; ….. First-class span: 1925-1950,  Matches 173,  Highest Score 195,  Runs 11,395,  Average 45.39,  30 Hundreds,  55 Fifties.

Vijay Merchant (India) ….. Tests span: 1933-1951,  Matches 10,  Highest Score 154,  Runs 859,  Average 47.72,  3 Centuries,  3 Fifties; ….. First-class span: 1929-1951, Matches 150,  Highest Score 359*,  Runs 13,470,  Average 71.64,  45 Hundreds,  52 Fifties.

Dudley Nourse (South Africa) ….. Tests span: 1935-1951,  Matches 34,  Highest Score 231,  Runs 2,960,  Average 53.81,  9 Centuries,  14 Fifties; ….. First-class span: 1931-1953,  Matches 175,  Highest Score 260*,  Runs 12,472,  Average 51.53,  41 Hundreds,  54 Fifties.

Len Hutton (England) ….. Tests span: 1937-1955,  Matches 79,  Highest Score 364,  Runs 6,971,  Average 56.67,  19 Centuries,  33 Fifties; ….. First-class span: 1934-1955,  Matches 513,  Highest Score 364,  Runs 40,140,  Average 55.51,  129 Hundreds,  177 Fifties.

Denis Compton (England) ….. Tests span: 1937-1957,  Matches 78,  Highest Score 278,  Runs 5,807,  Average 50.06,  17 Centuries,  28 Fifties; ….. First-class span: 1936-1964,  Matches 515,  Highest Score 300,  Runs 38,942,  Average 51.85,  123 Hundreds,  183 Fifties.

Arthur Morris (Australia) ….. Tests span: 1946-1955,  Matches 46,  Highest Score 206,  Runs 3,533,  Average 46.48,  12 Centuries,  12 Fifties; ….. First-class span: 1940-1955,  Matches 162,  Highest Score 290,  Runs 12,614,  Average 53.67,  46 Hundreds,  46 Fifties.

Frank Worrell (West Indies) ….. Tests span: 1948-1963,  Matches 51,  Highest Score 261,  Runs 3,860,  Average 49.48,  9 Centuries,  22 Fifties; ….. First-class span: 1941-1964,  Matches 208,  Highest Score 308*,  Runs 15,025,  Average 54.24,  39 Hundreds,  80 Fifties.

Clyde Walcott (West Indies) ….. Tests span: 1948-1960,  Matches 44,  Highest Score 220,  Runs 3,798,  Average 56.68,  15 Centuries,  14 Fifties; ….. First-class span: 1941-1964,  Matches 146,  Highest Score 314*,  Runs 11,820,  Average 56.55,  40 Hundreds,  54 Fifties.

Everton Weekes (West Indies) ….. Tests span: 1948-1958,  Matches 48,  Highest Score 207,  Runs 4,455,  Average 58.61,  15 Centuries,  19 Fifties; ….. First-class span: 1944-1964,  Matches 152,  Highest Score 304*,  Runs 12,010,  Average 55.34,  36 Hundreds,  54 Fifties.

Neil Harvey (Australia) ….. Tests span: 1948-1963,  Matches 79,  Highest Score 205,  Runs 6,149,  Average 48.41,  21 Centuries,  24 Fifties; ….. First-class span: 1946-1963,  Matches 306,  Highest Score 231*,  Runs 21,699,  Average 50.93,  67 Hundreds,  94 Fifties.

Hanif Mohammad (Pakistan) ….. Tests span: 1952-1969,  Matches 55,  Highest Score 337,  Runs 3,915,  Average 43.98,  12 Centuries,  15 Fifties; ….. First-class span:  1951-1976,  Matches 238,  Highest Score 499,  Runs 17,059,  Average 52.32,  55 Hundreds,  66 Fifties.

Gary Sobers (West Indies) ….. Tests span: 1954-1974,  Matches 93,  Highest Score 365*,  Runs 8,032,  Average 57.78,  26 Centuries,  30 Fifties; ….. First-class span:  1952-1974,  Matches 383,  Highest Score 365*,  Runs 28,314,  Average 54.87,  86 Hundreds,  121 Fifties.

Graeme Pollock (South Africa) ….. Tests span: 1963-1970,  Matches 23,  Highest Score 274,  Runs 2,256,  Average 60.97,  7 Centuries,  11 Fifties; ….. First-class span:  1960-1987,  Matches 262,  Highest Score 274,  Runs 20,940,  Average 54.67,  64 Hundreds,  99 Fifties.

Barry Richards (South Africa) ….. Tests span: 1970,  Matches 4,  Highest Score 140,  Runs 508,  Average 72.57,  2 Centuries,  2 Fifties; ….. First-class span: 1964-1983,   Matches 339,  Highest Score 356,  Runs 28,358,  Average 54.74,  80 Hundreds,  152 Fifties.

Greg Chappell (Australia) ….. Tests span: 1970-1984,  Matches 87,  Highest Score 247*,  Runs 7,110,  Average 53.86,  24 Centuries,  31 Fifties; ….. First-class span: 1966-1984,  Matches 321,  Highest Score 247*,  Runs 24,535,  Average 52.20,  74 Hundreds,  111 Fifties.

Sunil Gavaskar (India) ….. Tests span: 1971-1987,  Matches 125,  Highest Score 236*,  Runs 10,122,  Average 51.12,  34 Centuries,  45 Fifties; ….. First-class span: 1966-1987,  Matches 348,  Highest Score 340,  Runs 25,834,  Average 51.46,  81 Hundreds,  105 Fifties.

Vivian Richards (West Indies) ….. Tests span: 1974-1991,  Matches 121,  Highest Score 291,  Runs 8,540,  Average 50.23,  24 Centuries,  45 Fifties; ….. First-class span: 1971-1993,  Matches 507,  Highest Score 322,  Runs 36,212,  Average 49.40,  114 Hundreds,  162 Fifties.

Martin Crowe (New Zealand) ….. Tests span: 1982-1995,  Matches 77,  Highest Score 299,  Runs 5,444,  Average 45.36,  17 Centuries,  18 Fifties; ….. First-class span: 1979-1996,  Matches 247,  Highest Score 299,  Runs 19,608,  Average 56.02,  71 Hundreds,  80 Fifties.

Aravinda de Silva (Sri Lanka) ….. Tests span: 1984-2002,  Matches 93,  Highest Score 267,  Runs 6,361,  Average 42.97,  20 Centuries,  22 Fifties; ….. First-class span: 1983-2002,  Matches 220,  Highest Score 267,  Runs 15,000,  Average 48.38,  43 Hundreds,  71 Fifties.

Steve Waugh (Australia) ….. Tests span: 1985-2004,  Matches 168,  Highest Score 200,  Runs 10,927,  Average 51.06,  32 Centuries,  50 Fifties; ….. First-class span: 1984-2004,  Matches 356,  Highest Score 216*,  Runs 24,052,  Average 51.94,  79 Hundreds,  97 Fifties.

Brian Lara (West Indies) ….. Tests span: 1990-2006,  Matches 131,  Highest Score 400*,  Runs 11,953,  Average 52.88,  34 Centuries,  48 Fifties; ….. First-class span: 1987-2008,  Matches 261,  Highest Score 501*,  Runs 22,156,  Average 51.88,  65 Hundreds,  88 Fifties.

Sachin Tendulkar (India) ….. Tests span: 1989-2013,  Matches 200,  Highest Score 248*,  Runs 15,921,  Average 53.78,  51 Centuries,  68 Fifties; ….. First-class span: 1988-2013,  Matches 310,  Highest Score 248*,  Runs 25,396,  Average 57.84,  81 Hundreds,  116 Fifties.

Matthew Hayden (Australia) ….. Tests span: 1994-2009,  Matches 103,  Highest Score 380,  Runs 8,625,  Average 50.73,  30 Centuries,  29 Fifties; ….. First-class span: 1991-2009,  Matches 295,  Highest Score 380,  Runs 24,603,  Average 52.57,  79 Hundreds,  100 Fifties.

Ricky Ponting (Australia) ….. Tests span: 1995-2012,  Matches 168,  Highest Score 257,  Runs 13,378,  Average 51.85,  41 Centuries,  62 Fifties; ….. First-class span: 1992-2013,  Matches 289,  Highest Score 257,  Runs 24,150,  Average 55.90,  82 Hundreds,  106 Fifties.

These 35 batsmen are featured in Indra Vikram Singh's book 'Don's Century', which is a biography of Don Bradman and a panorama of batting from the 1860s till the present times. Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email singh_iv@hotmail.com.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Collector’s edition sports books available for corporate gifting

Price of the entire set of four books : Rs. 7,190
Available at special discount of over 30% : Rs. 5,000
Individual books available at 15% discount

The Big Book of World Cup Cricket
by Indra Vikram Singh

A definitive, fully illustrated collector's edition showcasing all the cricket World Cup tournaments from 1975 to 2007, and previewing the ICC World Cup 2011

Published by Sporting Links
ISBN 978-81-901668-4-3, Fully Illustrated
Hardback 22.5 cm x 28 cm, 544 Pages
Price Rupees 4,000

This collector’s edition tells the tale of every cricket World Cup played from 1975 to 2007, and carries a preview of the 2011 tournament. Featured are classic matches, brilliant individual performances, the commercial facet, highlights and sidelights, drama and controversy, and the stars of the biggest event in One-day cricket, encompassed by photographs from the leading lensmen and agencies in the world. The statistics sections comprise a wide range of records, detailed scorecards of every match played, and averages of all the players who appeared in the first nine editions of the World Cup. A handwritten letter from the immortal Sir Donald Bradman received by the author in 1999 completes a treasure that should find a place on the bookshelf of every modern cricket-lover. A special 44-page colour supplement Crowning Glory published at the conclusion of the ICC World Cup 2011 is available complimentary with The Big Book of World Cup Cricket.

Crowning Glory
by Indra Vikram Singh

Special supplement on India's victory in the ICC World Cup 2011

Published by Sporting Links
ISBN 978-81-901668-6-7, Fully Illustrated
Paperback 21.5 cm x 28 cm, 44 Pages
Price Rupees 200

The tenth edition of One-day cricket’s biggest show returned to the sub-continent for the third time. Never had the hosts won on home soil, but in 2011 the favourites India, despite a few stutters, jubilantly lifted the glittering ICC World Cup at Mumbai on 2nd April. This was not only the crowning glory for an Indian team that had striven hard to reach the no. 1 spot in Test cricket the previous year, but also the missing jewel in the amazing career of Sachin Tendulkar. It was a fairy-tale come true, the real significance of which will be understood in the years and decades to follow. Crowning Glory replays the highlights of the ICC World Cup 2011 and its stars, complete with colour photographs and records. This special supplement is also available complimentary with The Big Book of World Cup Cricket (ISBN 978-81-901668-4-3).

Don’s Century
by Indra Vikram Singh

Celebrating the life and cricket career of Sir Donald Bradman on his birth centenary, and a panorama of batting greats from the 1860s to present times

Published by Sporting Links
ISBN 978-81-901668-5-0, Fully Illustrated
French Fold 21.5 cm x 28 cm, 188 Pages
Price Rupees 995

Written in the centenary year of the peerless Don Bradman, the book takes a relook at his cricket career, relives the trial and tribulations of his personal life, and assesses the merits of other great batsmen from the 1860s to the present times. The questions still asked are: how great was Bradman actually, was he just a run-getting machine or was he truly the best there has ever been, have there been other batsmen as good or better than Bradman. Don’s Century analyses Bradman’s batting technique, brings forth his amazing achievements with the willow, aided by comments from the finest writers and players down the ages, supported by comprehensive statistics, and illustrated by classic photographs in sepia brown from the top agencies of the world. The panorama of batting presents many other legends from Grace, Ranji, Trumper and Hobbs to Richards, Tendulkar, Lara and Ponting, and so many more, focussing on their contribution, and in fact tracking the evolution of the game over the last century-and-a-half. The vicissitudes of Bradman’s own life, his persona and quest for excellence, the detractors, friends and family are all featured in this tribute to the unquestioned king of kings of the crease.

A Maharaja’s Turf
by Indra Vikram Singh

The triumph of Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla in the Epsom Derby 1934, the only Indian owner ever to win the blue riband of the turf in its history dating back to 1780.

Published by Sporting Links
ISBN 978-81-901668-3-6, Fully Illustrated 
Hardback 28 cm x 22.5 cm, 140 Pages
Price Rupees 1,995

This classic edition captures the story of the exhilarating triumph of Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla in the Epsom Derby of England in 1934, the only Indian owner ever to win the blue riband of the turf in its history dating back to 1780. The dapper Indian prince’s horse Windsor Lad left the hitherto undefeated favourite Colombo trailing in third place in the presence of royalty led by King George V and Queen Mary, and a multitude of an estimated quarter to half a million people on that damp afternoon of 6th June. The Maharaja thus completed a hat-trick of Derbys, having earlier won the first-ever Indian Derby in 1919 and the Irish Derby in 1926. This extensively researched book written by the Maharaja’s grandson, embellished with rare photographs, captures the era between the two World Wars, of imperial times and a royal lifestyle, also going back centuries into history, connecting the past and the present and depicting the march of time, even as the thrilling race remains the central theme. 

Please email your enquiries to singh_iv@hotmail.com. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Goodbye Sachin, God bless. A true Bharat Ratna.

Future generations who will not experience the Sachin phenomenon will never know what this endearing genius was all about. Mere numbers, monumental as they are, can never reveal the true saga of this great cricketer. An icon like no other, an inspirational figure like no other. A true Bharat Ratna. Heartiest congratulations to Sachin and the family on his being conferred with the Bharat Ratna, deservedly.

Test Matches 200
Runs 15,921
Highest Score 248*
Average 53.78
Hundreds 51
Fifties 68

One-day Internationals 463
Runs 18,426
Highest Score 200*
Average 44.83
Hundreds 49
Fifties 96

15847 was Sachin's Test aggregate at the end of his 199th game. The date of India’s independence is also 15.8.47. But talking of round figures, Sachin played 200 Test matches, was the first to score 200 in One-day internationals, and finished with 100 100s. Talk about a cent per cent record! But something that everyone must acknowledge is that he gave his 100 percent 100 percent of the time. What more do we want? That is his true legacy that must inspire generations.

I will not see anything better in my life. I have seen Gavaskar, Richards, Tendulkar and Lara.....and many more. What more is there to see? Now let the new generation regale the youngsters. I am satiated, delighted, content and grateful.

There is no end to one's desires and dreams. What happened was the real thing. But, honestly, 100 international Hundreds sounds better than 101 Hundreds! In an ideal world one would have liked Tendulkar to have scored his 100th international hundred in this, his 200th Test match and reaching an aggregate of 16,000 runs, having already scored 381 and 401 in Test matches, another record double century (220) in One-day Internationals, and 502 in a first-class game earlier. We must not be that greedy. There is plenty of space for the Laras, and the Sehwags, and something for the likes of Jacques Kallis, Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Virat Kohli to strive for.

We will never see another like Sachin again. We will never experience what we have during the magnificent career of this little genius. I hope people understand the significance of what they have seen. They will never see the like of it ever again in our lives. We will all carry these priceless memories to the next world up above.

We can only marvel at this lovable little genius. I am almost 18 years older than Sachin Tendulkar, but I have also learnt so much from Sachin the person and Tendulkar the champion. Forget youngsters, he is an inspiration to me too. Taking a cue from him, I still want to strive for so many things in my own small way.

This whole series and final Test have been memorable. Actually, it has been a month-long Sachin festival. If you wish to make a film on Sachin's farewell, do not write a script. Just take the original pictures. Cricket and all the players, and the former superstars were all incidental to the main plot. And rightly so. The game is indeed bigger than any player, however great, and it is precisely for this reason that it will go on long after Tendulkar has retired. But for this one month it has been an exhilarating farewell to India's biggest icon of the past quarter-century.

I think Sachin should not waste too much of his time on regular commentary, writing or coaching. He should be a mentor, not just to the present Indian team and youngsters, but to all sportspersons and youth in different spheres of life. He should lead a revolution in Indian sports and many other fields, not by entering politics or becoming an administrator. He should do it all from the outside simply as Sachin Tendulkar. He is too great for any post, and too noble for petty politics.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Origin of the Gohil Suryavanshi Rajput Dynasty of the Rajpipla Kingdom, India

His Highness Maharana Sir Vijaysinhji (1890-1951) 
Maharaja of Rajpipla from 1915 till merger in 1948


Bardic tales and genealogical records suggest that the Gohil Rajput clan ruled over Saurashtra (Kathiawar) in present day Gujarat, India, in ancient times. Alexander Kinloch Forbes wrote in his Ras-Mala, “The Gohil Rajputs of the solar race to which belonged Ramchandra and the Vallabhi dynasty, migrated to Mewar after the destruction of Vallabhi (in Kathiawar)”. They were also known as Guhilputra, the name being derived from ‘guhu’, which means cave. The founder of the Gohil clan, Muhideosur Gohadit (Guhil) was born in a cave in 542 A.D. after the fall of Vallabhi, and so the dynasty came to be known as Gohil. He became chief of a hilly tract of forests near modern Idar in north Gujarat in 556 A.D., and held sway till he died around 603 A.D., leaving behind a dynasty that, in the centuries to come, gave rise to kingdoms in Rajputana, Saurashtra and Gujarat, Central India and the Deccan, and from which also emanated the Ranas of Nepal. 

Guhil’s descendant Bappa Rawal or Kalbhoj captured Chittor Fort and established the Gohil kingdom of  Mewar in 734 A.D.

Salivahan, son of Narvahan, King of Mewar, and 11th in descent to Bappa Rawal, migrated with part of the Gohil clan from Mewar in 973 A.D., leaving behind his son Shaktikumar with the rest of the clan in Chittor. The Gohils under Salivahan settled at Juna Khergarh, which they made their capital on the Luni River (present-day Bhalotra near Jodhpur), in Marwar. There is still a village there called ‘Gohilon ki Dhani’. For two-and-a-quarter centuries, thus, the Gohil Rajputs ruled Mewar as well as Marwar.

The Gohils of Mewar were attacked by Ala-ud-din Khilji’s army in 1303 in which all the women committed jauhar and the men were killed in battle. Thereafter Hamir Singh Gohil, a descendant 13 generations apart, was brought from Mount Sisoda where he lived, and installed in Chittor. The Gohils of Mewar then assumed the name Sisodia. They shifted their capital to Udaipur in 1559.

Meanwhile, the Gohils ruled Marwar for 20 generations till the early years of the 13th century. They were displaced by the Rathores, who were driven out of Kannauj (in modern Uttar Pradesh) following the invasion of Muhammad Ghori and the establishment of the Slave dynasty. In 1211, the Rathores founded the kingdom of Marwar, which later came to be known as Jodhpur.

The Gohils under their chief Mohodas then marched back to Saurashtra after nearly five hundred years, to the court of the great Chalukya ruler Sidhraj Singh. They were granted a jagir in modern Gohilwar, thus becoming governors of the Chalukyas.

The ‘Ruling Princes and Chiefs of India’ published by The Times of India in 1930 states that: “No single portion of the vast and vulnerable land of Ind is wrapt deeper in the fascinating glamour of immemorial legend, tradition and romance than is Kathiawar, the ancient territory of the Vallabhi kings. To Kathiawar journeyed the mighty Gohils, that historic Rajput tribe whose very name signifies ‘the strength of the earth’, centuries before Norman William fought Saxon Harold at Senlac. Originally, as it would seem, vassals of the Vallabhi kings, the Gohils, by degrees conquered the greater portion of Kathiawar, until they permanently rooted themselves in the soil of Saurashtra. They were fighters ever, these men – warriors to the bone and marrow. Sejakji – Ranoji – Mokhdaji – what memories of raid and foray, of pitched battle, of fierce siege do these names not recall! It was Mokhdaji, it may be remembered, who took Gogha from its Mohamedan defenders and made of Perim a royal capital. Mighty in physical stature as he was in deeds of derring do, he died fighting against Muhammad Tughlaq on Gogha soil, leaving behind him a name never to be forgotten in the annals of Saurashtra.”

To the Gohils were born valiant warriors like Maharana Sanga and Maharana Pratap, the rulers of Mewar who by then had assumed the name Sisodia, and the legendary Maratha King Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, all of whom refused to bow to the might of the Mughals. The kingdoms that stemmed from the Sisodias of Mewar were Dungarpur, Banswara, Pratapgarh and Shahpura in Rajasthan, and Barwani in Madhya Pradesh. A branch of the Sisodias also migrated north and became the powerful Rana prime ministers of Nepal. In Maharashtra the Gohils assumed the name Bhonsle and founded kingdoms like Kolhapur, Satara, Nagpur, and Sawantwadi. In the south they founded the kingdom of Thanjavur.   

Back in Saurashtra, Sejakji (Sahajigji) was twenty-third in descent to Salivahan. He was chief of the Gohil clan from 1240, governor, commanding officer of King Kumarpal’s army and right-hand man of the Solankis, a branch of the Chalukyas. Sejakji befriended Rah (Rao) Mahipal, King of Saurashtra, whose capital was Junagarh, and married his daughter Valumkunverba (Amarkunvari) to Khengar (Kawat), the heir apparent (Jayamal) of Saurashtra. Sejakji received Shahpur along with 24 villages in jagir, in the midst of which he founded a capital in 1250, naming it Sejakpur after himself. He added 40 villages by force of arms, and died in 1254.

Somraj succeded as chief after the death of Sejakji, whose other two sons Shahji and Sarangji received jagirs in Mandvi and Arthilla, which later became the kingdoms of Palitana and Lathi. Part of folklore is the stirring tale of Hamirji Gohil, a 16-year-old and newly-married chieftain of Lathi, who sacrificed his life in 1401 defending the Somnath temple from the attack of Muzaffar Shah. Hamirji Gohil’s cenotaph still stands at the entrance to the temple.

Mulraj, brother of Somraj, was governor of Sorath. He died in 1290, by when had also carved out an independent principality Ghoga, with capital at Piram (or Pirambet), an island in the Gulf of Cambay, near present day Bhavnagar.

Ranoji became Gohil chief in 1290. He established a new Gohil capital at Ranpur but was expelled from there and slain by Muslim invaders in 1309.

Mokhdaji succeeded his father Ranoji and conquered Umrala from the Kolis, and wrested back Piram (Ghoga) from the Muslims. He succumbed to sword wounds inflicted in battle by the army Sultan Muhammad bin Tughlaq in 1347. Mokhdaji married (i) Sarviya princess of Hathasani in Kathiawar. Their son Dungarsinhji succeeded as chief, and later his descendant Bhavsinhji founded the capital city of Bhavnagar in 1723, (ii) Parmar princess of Rajpipla, daughter of Chokrana, ruler of Junaraj (Old Rajpipla) in the western Satpuras, which was earlier part of the Imperial kingdom of Ujjain. The son of Mokhdaji Gohil and the Parmar princess, Samarsinhji, succeeded to the gadi of Rajpipla on the death of his maternal grandfather Chokrana, who had no male issue. Samarsinhji assumed the name Arjunsinhji.

Arjunsinhji became the first Gohil Rajput ruler of Rajpipla State around the middle of the 14th century. The Gohils of Rajpipla continued to worship the deity of the Parmars, Shri Harsiddhi Mataji. 

The Gohil dynasty retained a tenuous hold on the hill tracts of the Satpuras with the help of the Bhils, the local tribals, through diplomacy, grit, courage and, at times, submission. Whenever the opportunity arose, the rulers allied themselves with other Hindu chiefs to expand their territory. Through all the turbulent years the Gohil kingdom of Rajpipla survived despite being hemmed in by such powerful Muslim kingdoms as Gujarat, Malwa and Khandesh, and the Bahamani Kingdom, and later the Gaekwars of Baroda. The Gohil Rajput clan ruled over Rajpipla for six centuries until merger with the Indian Union in 1948.

(Indra Vikram Singh, Prince of Rajpipla and descendant of the Gohil Rajput dynasty, can be contacted on email teddy.rajpipla@gmail.com).

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"My Three Derbys" : Excerpt from Indra Vikram Singh's book 'A Maharaja's Turf'

Article by Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla
in The Sporting Times, February 5, 1943

“My Three Derbys”
(Specially Contributed to “The Sporting Times”)
H.H. the Maharaja of Rajpipla, the author of this exclusive article,
has the unique distinction amongst Indian owners of winning three
Derbys in three different countries. His Highness won the Indian
Country-bred Derby in 1919 with Tipster, the Irish Derby with
Embargo in 1926 and the English Derby with Windsor Lad in 1934.
Tipster, an Indian horse bred in Kunigal, 
who won the Country Bred Derby in 1919 
when ridden by ‘Bunty’ Brown, the famous Australian jockey

The Indian Derby will be run tomorrow February 6th. It is not the first Indian Derby. Some time ago they started the Derby and then it fell through. If I am not mistaken, I won the first Indian Derby in 1919 (for Country breds) with “Tipster”, a Kunigal bred horse, ridden by ‘Bunty’ Brown. From that day I always wanted to win the English Derby. That is the ambition of every racing man in the world.
I started by buying a high class yearling every year. Steve Donoghue was in India in 1924. He came and stayed with me. Being an “expert” on Derbys I took his advice on “How to win the English Derby”. He was too polite to say anything else, but gave a smile. I knew I was asking a question no one could answer. People spent millions and were racing for generations and yet hadn’t won the celebrated race.
“Try,” he said “by buying a good yearling or two every year and you may never know your luck.” After returning to England Donoghue bought for me “Embargo”. My dreams were coming nearer. In short he won me the Irish 2000 Guineas and the Irish Derby in 1926. But still my ambition was not achieved. I would not give in.

Fred Darling the famous trainer, came to India in 1932 and stayed with me. I told him I wanted to win the English Derby and he smiled and said “Yes, everyone wants to win the Derby. If you don’t try, you don’t gain. You start breeding with good mares (mares count 75 per cent), and a good stallion.” I started a small stud on his advice with Embargo as sire, but it was a tedious process. It takes a long time to establish a good stud. So I continued to buy one or two high class yearlings every year.
My trainer, Marcus Marsh, one day rang me up and asked me if he could buy a yearling at the Newmarket sales for me. I told him to buy one upto one thousand pounds. That evening after the sales he rang me up and said he had bought one for £1,300 - a Blandford colt. I told him, “I gave you the limit of one thousand or a little over, why did you pay thirteen hundred?” He told me he would give me £500 profit if I did not want the colt. I said “Let me think about it and I will tell you tomorrow.” Tomorrow came and I said “No I will keep him. That is my Derby dream.” That was Windsor Lad. From that day on, some how or other I was more and more convinced that this was my Derby hope.
As a two-year-old we kept him backward and only gave him two or three runs and at the end of the season he won the “Criterion” at Newmarket. That year as a two-year-old Colombo was unbeaten and next winter he became the Derby favourite. In 1933 we had a big Christmas party and Prince Aly Khan was a member of it. We had many friendly arguments and he said his father’s horse Umidwar would be hard to beat.
At that very time I backed Windsor Lad at 40 to 1 with Ladbroke. The more the press and public ignored him, the more I got confidence in him, as I saw him improving into a big, fine horse as a three-year-old. The first man to give me confidence was Freddie Fox when he won the Chester Vase on him. He told me that anything that could beat him would win the Derby. No horse had won a 1 ½ mile race before the Derby. I then felt that he could stay. After that he won the Newmarket Stakes one mile. So I was convinced he had the required speed.
A Derby horse must have speed, staying power and be able to go up hill or down hill and turn like a Polo Pony at Tattenham Corner at Epsom, and be able to act in any going; hard or soft; wet or dry.
I went to the Press Luncheon on the eve of the Derby and was assailed with all sorts of questions from veteran sportsmen and racing experts beginning from Lord Lonsdale downwards, as to why I thought Windsor Lad was good enough to win the Derby. I was sitting at the table between H.H. The Aga Khan and Sir Humphrey de Trafford, a Member of the Jockey Club. When my turn came to give the Derby tip I didn’t know what to say as this was the first time I had a horse with a chance in the Derby.
I said I was afraid of no horse, as Windsor Lad had proved by winning the Chester Vase (1 ½ miles) and the Newmarket Stakes (1 mile), that he could stay and had speed. Whatever could beat him would win the race. I was taking on a lot by making this statement. Anyway the day came and thank God I won the English Derby, the Blue Riband of the Turf and my ambition and dream were realised by the kindness of God.

In the 1934 Derby there were several good horses who after all won important races afterwards, viz., Colombo, Easton, Baddrudin, Alishah, Tiberius, Admiral Drake and others.
Gipsy Lee before she died had said “in 1934 someone from overseas will win the Derby and the horse will have W in his name.” So, many people backed Windsor Lad on that prophesy. There were other incidents of note, this was the 13thDerby I attended and I travelled to England from India in cabin No.13; furthermore Windsor Lad was drawn No. 13 at the start.
(Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla wrote this article on the eve of the revival of the Indian Derby that was run in Bombay on February 6, 1943. The Indian Derby began in Calcutta in 1919, which the Maharaja’s horse Tipster won).
*           *           *           *           *
The Maharaja concluded the article by saying that King George V invited him to the Royal Box and congratulated him on the great triumph.

Jockey 'Bunty' Brown's full name is Perry Robert Brown.

(Author of ‘A Maharaja’s Turf’ Indra Vikram Singh, Prince of Rajpipla and grandson of Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji, can be contacted on email teddy.rajpipla@gmail.com).
Follow Indra Vikram Singh on Twitter @IVRajpipla. 

Indra Vikram Singh’s latest books published by Sporting Links :
A Maharaja’s Turf  ISBN 978-81-901668-3-6
The Big Book of World Cup Cricket  ISBN 978-81-901668-4-3
Don’s Century  ISBN 978-81-901668-5-0
Crowning Glory  ISBN 978-81-901668-6-7

Distributed in India by :  
Variety Book Depot, 
AVG Bhawan, 
M-3, Middle Circle, Connaught Circus,
New Delhi - 110 001.
Tel. (011) 23417175, 23412567.

Indra Vikram Singh’s books are available in leading bookstores and online on many websites.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

‘I didn’t think I would win the Derby – I knew' : Excerpt from Indra Vikram Singh’s book ‘A Maharaja’s Turf’

Article by Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla 
in Racing Post in August 1934

‘I didn’t think I would win the Derby – I knew'

When Windsor Lad won the 1934 Derby,
it was the greatest day in the life of its owner,
the Maharajah of Rajpipla.
Later, ‘Mr. Pip’ penned his memoirs and, reproduced here,
offer a fascinating insight into the joys of owning an Epsom hero

PHOTOS : Windsor Lad wins the 1934 Derby for the Maharajah of Rajpipla, a victory witnessed by the massed hordes of racegoers at Epsom.

Years ago I made up my mind to win the Derby, but it was not until the end of Windsor Lad’s two-year-old career that I realised I had a chance of achieving my great ambition. I have never owned racehorses on a big scale; but, then, I have to keep up two racing establishments, one in England and the other in India.

It was in the summer of 1932 that my trainer, Marcus Marsh, came to me and said he had bought me a future Classic winner. It was a yearling colt by Blandford out of Resplendent, and he bought it at the Newmarket sales for 1300 gns. I agreed to take the colt, and he certainly proved a wonderful investment.

I have a house near Windsor, and it was for this reason I called the colt Windsor Lad.

To me it was one of the most interesting and enjoyable things I have ever experienced to watch Windsor Lad growing up. My trainer and I always had tremendous faith in the horse and I knew it was going to be the first chance I had ever had of winning an English classic race. Month by month I watched him grow into the splendid animal he now is. Nothing ever went wrong with him, which is very unusual in a really good horse, and he was never sick or sorry, like most other racehorses become at one time or another.

Windsor Lad made his first appearance in public exactly a year after I bought him. He was not nearly fit and finished well down the course, but I was not in the least worried, as I knew he would take a long time to develop. It was not until the end of October that season that Windsor Lad won a race, but from then until now he has only once been beaten, and then most terribly unluckily.

At the beginning of 1934 I thought I had a chance of winning the Derby but I was not confident. Then Windsor Lad came out and won the Chester Vase, and from that moment I was absolutely convinced I would win the Derby. At the time there were tremendous stories going around about the wonders of Colombo: that he was the best horse ever seen in England, and that he was the biggest certainty ever known in the Derby. Nearly all my friends thought I was mad when I told them Windsor Lad would beat Colombo. I did not think I would win - I knew. In fact, a few days before the Derby was to be run, I was at a private party at which there was a fortune-teller. I was persuaded to have my fortune told.

“You are going to win a big race; I think it is the Derby,” the fortune-teller said.
“You’re telling me!” I replied.

The days leading up to the Derby were filled with much anxiety as to whether Windsor Lad would keep sound and well. The critical time in the Derby horse’s preparation is the last week, and my trainer hardly left Windsor Lad for a moment.

At last Derby Day arrived. I invited a party of friends to my box at Epsom to watch the race. I do not bet much, but on this occasion I was tempted to have a good deal more on than usual. I had backed Windsor Lad at long prices weeks before the race, but I put some more on when I got to Epsom. It was very thrilling waiting for the great race to take place. Several times on the way to Epsom people recognised me and shouted out good wishes.

Most of them I had never seen before, and it was very encouraging to feel that if I won it would be so popular.

My trainer was equally as confident as myself before the race. My jockey, Charlie Smirke, would not hear of defeat. Colombo was still the raging favourite, and everybody seemed to think he was a good thing.

Curiously enough, it was the 13th Derby I had watched, and when the draw for the positions at the start was announced it was seen that Windsor Lad was drawn at No.13.

This coincidence made me even more confident than ever, as I had travelled to England from India in cabin No.13.

At last came the parade, one of the many impressive preliminaries before the Derby. Windsor Lad was looking great. And then the canter to the post. Those few minutes before the Derby seemed like an eternity; I thought they would never start, but after what seemed hours the barrier went up and the race began.

I could not realise that it was actually the Derby in progress and that Windsor Lad was one of the field. I watched the race through powerful glasses and never took my eyes off my colours, which, by the way, are purple with a cream sash and quartered cap. As they came round Tattenham Corner, Smirke dashed Windsor Lad through on the rails. He showed a wonderful nerve and daring to gain the key position. Halfway up the straight the great crowd began to realise that Windsor Lad might win.

As Easton and Colombo drew up to him there was wild excitement, and the cheering and shouting on all sides was deafening. I myself did not call out anything; I was so certain he would win.

It was really a wonderful finish to a wonderful race, and Windsor Lad pulled out an extra little bit in the last few yards and won me my first Derby amid thunderous cheers.

I felt bemused at first, and could not realise that I had actually won the world’s greatest race.

Then my friends pushed me down the stairs to hurry out on to the course to lead in the winner. I did not realise what I was doing, as it did not seem possible that I had really won the Derby, but the beaming faces of Marcus Marsh and Smirke assured me that such indeed was the case.

As I led Windsor Lad down the course and into the unsaddling enclosure I was given a wonderful reception by the British public. They were magnificent, and everybody seemed genuinely pleased that I had won.

The moments that followed are too hazy for me to recollect what I felt or said. Everybody shook hands with me and I was congratulated on all sides. The coolest of all was Windsor Lad, who never turned a hair, and I think he could have run another race a few minutes after.

Then Brigadier-General Tomkinson, the King’s manager, came and asked me if I would go up to the royal box, as His Majesty was anxious to congratulate me. I went up and was congratulated by the King and Queen and other members of the royal family, and His Majesty insisted on my drinking a glass of champagne. Everybody was wonderful, and I felt very happy.

Eventually I motored back to London, where I gave a big party at the Savoy for all my friends to celebrate my victory.

Yes, winning the Derby is a wonderful feeling and one that few people experience.

Two months after the Derby, Mr M H Benson offered me £50,000 for Windsor Lad, and after due consideration I decided to sell him, providing that he left the horse with Marcus Marsh. I was very sorry to part with my horse, but I had not a stud in England, so there was no point in refusing such a big offer.

I wish Mr Benson every good luck with him, and I think he will make a great sire.

Who knows, I may win the Derby again. At any rate, I bought several fine yearlings at the last Doncaster Sales, and I think I may have another Windsor Lad!

(This article was written by Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla two months after he became the only Indian owner to win the blue riband of the turf on 6th June 1934. Author of 'A Maharaja's Turf' Indra Vikram Singh, Prince of Rajpipla and grandson of Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji, can be contacted on email teddy.rajpipla@gmail.com).

Follow Indra Vikram Singh on Twitter @IVRajpipla. 

Indra Vikram Singh’s latest books published by Sporting Links :
A Maharaja’s Turf  ISBN 978-81-901668-3-6
The Big Book of World Cup Cricket  ISBN 978-81-901668-4-3
Don’s Century  ISBN 978-81-901668-5-0
Crowning Glory  ISBN 978-81-901668-6-7

Distributed in India by :  
Variety Book Depot, 
AVG Bhawan, 
M-3, Middle Circle, Connaught Circus,
New Delhi - 110 001.
Tel. (011) 23417175, 23412567.

Indra Vikram Singh’s books are available in leading bookstores and online on many websites.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Half a million cheered “Good old Pip” and the King hailed the triumphant Prince. Epilogue to Indra Vikram Singh’s book ‘A Maharaja’s Turf’.

('A Maharaja's Turf' is a collector's edition on the triumph of Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla in the Epsom Derby 1934, the only Indian owner ever to win the much-coveted blue riband of the turf as his Irish-bred horse Windsor Lad finished first on that damp afternoon of 6th June that year. The book has been written by the Maharaja's grandson Indra Vikram Singh).

This is the story of a man who followed his dream, of a prince who set his eyes on a lofty goal, worked towards it assiduously, relentlessly and intelligently, with passion and patience, and eventually won the biggest prize of them all. Horses were the passion of Maharana Vijaysinhji, ruler of Rajpipla. He wanted to own the best horses in the world, and to win the most prestigious horse races devised by man. Minor successes did not satisfy the ambitious young man. He wanted dearly to reach the pinnacle, and did. That is why it is such an inspiring tale.

Succeeding his father Maharana Chhatrasinhji as ruler of the 4,000 square kilometres first-class Rajpipla State in the Rewakantha Agency of the Bombay Presidency in the year 1915, the adroit Vijaysinhji established himself as a leading light of the Indian racecourses very early. In 1919 he won the first-ever Indian Derby, then known as the Country Bred Derby and run in Calcutta, with his Kunigal-bred horse Tipster, ridden by the famous Australian jockey ‘Bunty’ Brown.

Having been bestowed with the title of Maharaja in 1921, Vijaysinhji then set his eyes on the centre of the Empire and travelled extensively the next year in the British Isles, Europe and United States of America, not just exploring the racing world and western society, but also studying the workings of modern governments, systems and institutions. He called on President Warren Harding in Washington, and visited New York to gain first-hand knowledge of the stock exchange. Back in England, he bought himself an estate near London on the banks of the Thames, with a 27-room Victorian mansion and extensive grounds, named ‘The Manor’ at Old Windsor in Berkshire.

The world’s leading trainers and jockeys were regular guests at Maharaja Vijaysinhji’s sprawling seaside ‘Palm Beach’ Nepeansea Road residence at Bombay, and the grand ‘Sommerville Guest House’ at Nandod (New Rajpipla town), the capital of Rajpipla State. Steve Donoghue, an expert on the great Epsom Derby, was a visitor in 1924. Quizzed about the path to a Derby win, the legendary jockey advised his host to buy a good yearling or two every year. On returning home Donoghue purchased Embargo for the Maharaja that summer, and rode him to victory in the Irish Two Thousand Guineas as well as Irish Derby in 1926. Vijaysinhji, who had been knighted the previous year, felt convinced that he was well on the way to realising his big aspiration.

Winning the blue riband of the turf was, however, not such an easy ride. A caller in 1932 was the celebrated trainer Fred Darling, whose input was to start breeding with good mares (which matter 75 per cent as the Maharaja himself held) and a proven stallion. And so the keen Vijaysinhji started a stud in England with Embargo as sire, even as he continued buying high quality yearlings.

In July the same year, Darling’s protege Marcus Marsh, now training for the Maharaja, spotted a promising colt at the Newmarket sales, and received approval to purchase him. They named him Windsor Lad. The genial animal shaped extremely well under the tutelage of Marsh, a younger son of the late Richard Marsh who had trained three Derby winners for King Edward VII, and later trained the horses of the reigning King George V.

In 1933 Windsor Lad won the Criterion at Newmarket. As a three-year-old in 1934 he finished at the head of the field in the 1 ½ miles Chester Vase and the mile-long Newmarket Stakes. His discerning owner was now certain that the colt had the requisite stamina as well as speed.

The favourite for the Derby was the unbeaten Colombo, winner of seven races in 1933 and two in the current season of 1934. But he had not proved himself in a twelve furlong race, and Maharaja Vijaysinhji confidently stated that Colombo did not worry him. So sure was he of Windsor Lad’s prowess that in a signed article later he declared that he didn’t think he would win the Derby, he knew.

An estimated half a million people began descending on the Epsom Downs right since daybreak on 6th June 1934. Around noon dark clouds drifted in and a sharp shower broke the three-week-long dry spell. Just at this time the royal cavalcade drove in led by the Rolls-Royce of King George V and Queen Mary; and followed by those carrying the Duke and Duchess of York, who later became King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, parents of the present Queen Elizabeth II; other members of the family and the King of Greece. The Prince of Wales, who succeeded as King Edward VIII but abdicated soon, joined them a little later.

There was a huge buzz around the race as usual, but more so for the prophesy of Gipsy Lee, made as far back 1868, that a horse with a ‘W’ in its name would win in 1934. There were also a number of uncanny coincidences around the number 13, which particularly enchanted the ladies, who backed Windsor Lad.

They were off five minutes after the scheduled 3 o’clock start, and Donoghue on Medieval Knight set a fast pace by the side of the rails, with Colombo right behind. But reaching the top of the hill, the leader cracked and Colombo was baulked coming down the hill towards the iconic Tattenham Corner. Seizing the opportunity, Tiberius slipped through, pursued closely by Easton and Windsor Lad.

Just after taking the big bend to the left, Tiberius began to fade and was passed. The dashing Charlie Smirke – returning after a ban of five years – soon breezed Windsor Lad along the rails past Easton. Meanwhile Colombo recovered and made a great run on the outside in the centre of the course. The crowd thought that the hitherto invincible favourite would carry the day yet again, and began yelling “Colombo wins”. In the final furlong the three horses were bunched closely together. At this moment Colombo’s stamina failed him even as Windsor Lad surged to the post, equalling the record of 2 minutes 34 seconds set up by Hyperion the previous year.

The jubilant 44-year-old Maharaja was already a popular figure on the English racecourses and had been affectionately nicknamed ‘Pip’ by friends and the public alike. Now the multitude roared “Good old Pip” as he led his victorious colt back to the unsaddling area. Soon the King invited Maharaja Vijaysinhji to the royal box, high up above the finishing post, and raised a toast to this exhilarating win.

Lady luck had indeed smiled on the Indian prince when Colombo got hemmed in behind Medieval Knight, but ultimately it was the deft training of Marsh, the speed and stamina of the muscular Windsor Lad, and the skill of Smirke that carried the day.

No other Indian owner had won the Derby before, nor one after, in its history dating back to 1780. One of the first to congratulate Maharaja Vijaysinhji was his close friend the Aga Khan, himself a distinguished Derby winner. Dreams do indeed come true, if you persist long enough. During the Second World War, Maharaja Vijaysinhji donated two Spitfire aircrafts named ‘Rajpipla’ and ‘Windsor Lad’, and the headlines ran “Windsor Lad will fly”. The Maharaja was honoured with an MBE in 1945, and when the winds of change wafted in, he merged his State with the Union of India in 1948, bringing down the curtain on the 600-year rule of the Gohil Rajputs over Rajpipla State.

(Author Indra Vikram Singh, Prince of Rajpipla and grandson of HH Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji, can be contacted on email teddy.rajpipla@gmail.com).

Follow Indra Vikram Singh on Twitter @IVRajpipla. 

Indra Vikram Singh’s latest books published by Sporting Links :
A Maharaja’s Turf  ISBN 978-81-901668-3-6
The Big Book of World Cup Cricket  ISBN 978-81-901668-4-3
Don’s Century  ISBN 978-81-901668-5-0
Crowning Glory  ISBN 978-81-901668-6-7

Distributed in India by :  
Variety Book Depot, 
AVG Bhawan, 
M-3, Middle Circle, Connaught Circus,
New Delhi - 110 001. Tel. (011) 23417175, 23412567.

Indra Vikram Singh’s books are available in leading bookstores and online on many websites.