Raj Singh Dungarpur: Controversial cricket administrator who championed the young Tendulkar

Raj Singh Dungarpur was the most influential and controversial president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). This prince of the erstwhile state of Dungarpur had the same reputation when he was the chairman of national selectors, and manager of the Indian team on the tours of England in 1982 and 1986 and Pakistan in 1984-85 and 2005-06: he had a special talent to make friends and foes.

Dungarpur's imposing personality commanded awe and respect in any circle, and his command of English and gift of the gab were such that he would dominate meetings, debates and discussions, dwarfing his administrative colleagues. Even his political rivals, like Jagmohan Dalmiya, the former president of the BCCI and the International Cricket Council, struggled to be severe in their criticism.

The BCCI president from 1996 to 1999, he admitted he held the position "at the wrong time" and got "mixed up in the muddy waters of politics and the likes and dislikes of individuals". Dungarpur, who regarded the post of chairman of the selection committee as "the most thankless job in Indian cricket", had encouraged and promoted many talented cricketers, but allegedly ruined the careers of some stalwarts at the same time, particularly Mohinder Amarnath.

When dropped for the home series against New Zealand in 1988 and the subsequent tour of the West Indies in 1989, despite being in excellent form, Amarnath labelled Dungarpur and his fellow selectors as "a pack of jokers". Since Amarnath's father, Lala, had also been treated unfairly by the selectors in the past, he went on to say that the "jokers" either did not like his "face" or "surname" or "both".

Dungarpur, who had preconceived notions about people and usually reacted impulsively, seemed to have a grudge against Amarnath. He never gave a rational explanation for his omission. He told an interesting story, apocryphal or true, concerning the master batsman on the 1986 tour of England. He said Amarnath told him, "a month before the Leeds Test", that he never saw a cricket ball move and swing so much as at Headingley. "I had taken a five-pound bet with the India team's administrative manager, V.B. Prabhudesai, that Mohinder wouldn't play at Headingley. He didn't."

On the positive side, after watching the 14-year-old Sachin Tendulkar score a triple century, Dungarpur was instrumental in amending the rules of the historic Cricket Club of India (CCI) in Mumbai to allow the teenager to use its dressing room, smoothing things out for the batsman early in his career. He headed the selection panel that picked the 16-year-old for ndia's tour of Pakistan in 1989-90. In 1999, when Tendulkar wanted to step down from the captaincy in the middle of a series against South Africa, Dungarpur persuaded him to wait until it ended.

Then, in 2001, when Sourav Ganguly was leading the Indian team, he patted Rahul Dravid on the back in the dressing room in Kandy, Sri Lanka, and inquired, "Are you ready to be the captain?" He appeared to have as strong a dislike for Ganguly as he had for Amarnath. He once proclaimed that Ganguly was not a student of the game, calling him lazy, a bad role model and the worst fielder in the side.

Raj Singh Dungarpur was born on 19 December 1935, in the princely state of Dungarpur in southern Rajasthan, the youngest of three sons of Maharawal Lakshman Singhji, the ruler of Dungarpur. A gangling right-arm fast-medium bowler, Dungarpur led his Vikram university team and played first class cricket for Rajasthan between 1956 and 1971, taking 206 wickets at an average of 28.84. He featured in seven losing Ranji Trophy finals against Mumbai.

Regardless of the controversies, Dungarpur was a passionate cricket lover, so much so that he used to sleep with Vinoo Mankad's bat by his side. He was also an avid collector of memorabilia and a popular radio commentator. His visionary capabilities were evident in the key part he played in the establishment of the National Cricket Academy at Bangalore in 2000.

He was accused by some as being a snob, but it was not true. Of course, he loved most things English, and owned a flat opposite Lord's. "English cricket left an impression," he said. "But anything that India does gives me much greater pleasure than England winning back the Ashes." A lifelong bachelor, Dungarpur enjoyed a close friendship with the Indian melody queen Lata Mangeshkar.

Haresh Pandya

Raj Singh Dungarpur, cricket player and administrator: born Dungarpur, India 19 December 1935; died 12 September 2009.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent