Durani: 'Budhi created his own shots'

Former India cricketer Budhi Kunderan was honoured with a 'special award' by the Board of Control of Cricket in India.

Former India wicketkeeper-batsman Budhi Kunderan.   -  HINDU ARCHIVES

Budhi Kunderan may not be a much-heard name among today's generation, but the Board of Control for Cricket in India on Saturday announced a 'Special Award' (posthumously) for the yesteryear wicketkeeper-batsman for the 2017-18 cycle.

Kunderan's story, however, is that of rags-to-riches; but with immense grace, splendour and self-respect.

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Homeless at 20 in the then Bombay, he had made a bedroom out of the parapet beside National Health Gym in the Azad Maidan area, and the next day, he kept wickets for India. Kunderan didn't even have gloves; he had to borrow it from the stumper he replaced, Naren Tamhane. His bats and pads belonged to Fort Vijay, the club he represented.

Salim Durani, his friend from school cricket days and later in the national side, remembers his late friend as a cricketer who created his own technique. Durani and Kunderan made their international debut together against Australia in Bombay in 1960. “I am glad the board remembered him after so many years. It’s a great honour. I am grateful to the board as he is one of the greatest cricketers India ever produced,” the 83-year-old Durani told Sportstar in a telephonic interaction.

“Talking about Budhi is a delight. He was so dynamic and a smart looking man. His approach to the game, right from the school days when we played together to the last Test, was the same. He had a natural array of shots all round the wicket, he had his own technique and he was very graceful. Even if he stood still on the ground, people would come and watch him,” added Durani, a stylish all-rounder of his times. Durani, further, recalled that all of Kunderan’s innings were different from each other.

“There were many good players that time. I was a good player, so was Pataudi (Mansur Ali Khan), but Budhi was special. He could create shots. He was an attractive right-handed batsman and a great team-mate. Even beyond cricket, we would hang out a lot at Marine Drive and have chana masala.”

Kunderan failed to create an impression in his first Test, but when none of the Indian batsmen clicked against the googly of Richie Benaud and the variations of seamer Alan Davidson in the next Test in Madras, he stood tall with a fine innings of 71.

In the second innings, he scored 33. “Oh! That was a superb innings. He had shots that are unexplainable. If BCCI has a film of his batting, they must show it to young cricketers,” Durani summed up.

Kunderan represented India from 1960-67 in 18 Tests. He scored 981 runs — laced with two hundreds and three fifties — with a highest score of 192.