Tendulkar: ‘Rajbhai was no less than a guru’

A gate named after Raj Singh Dungarpur, the former administrator, was inaugurated at the Cricket Club of India.

Sachin Tendulkar sips coconut water after inaugurating the Raj Singh Dungarpur Gate at Cricket Club of India.   -  Vivek Bendre

Sachin Tendulkar came to the famous cricket venue at Dinshaw Vacha Road, Churchgate on Friday afternoon,  inaguarated the Cricket Club of India’s Gate 1 — from the Marine Drive side — as the Raj Singh Dungarpur Gate and acknowledged the role played by Dungarpur, in his cricketing career.

After his first-class career of 86 matches, Dungarpur served as the CCI president, the BCCI president, and chairman of the national selection committee.

‘Bent all rules’

“When it comes to Rajbhai, I really don’t know where to start with because I get confused. I have had that kind of relationship wherein he guided me all the way. The first time Rajbhai saw me was when I was 12 or 13, and when I had scored some runs for Shivaji Park Youngsters against the CCI. Madhav Apte was keeping wicket for CCI. And once I was recommended to CCI, Rajbhai invited me to play; he bent all rules and allowed me to enter the dressing room at the age of 14.”

Raj Singh passed away in September, 2009 after being the president of the CCI for 15 years.

“It was always a joy to see Rajbhai because he was so full of energy and enthusiasm. In our culture, whenever you do something in life, like appearing for exams or get ready to play a big match, you take the blessings of your guru. I would say to all youngsters that Rajbhai was no less than a guru. The naming of the gate is apt; you take his blessings when you enter the ground. Rajbhai was the heart of CCI. I had requested that a gate be named after him in 2009 and thanks to everyone to make this happen.”

Tendulkar also recalled an incident where Dungarpur had held back his selection for the tour of the West Indies in 1989.

A story

“I was selected in the Mumbai team for the Ranji Trophy and coincidentally Rajbhai was chairman of the national selection committee. My first season in the Ranji Trophy was a successful one. There were discussions on whether Sachin would go to the West Indies or not. And when I was playing the Ranji semifinal against Delhi at the Wankhede Stadium, Rajbhai walked up to me and said - and he had a peculiar way of talking to me - ‘Sachin thumala me aek gosta sangthe’ ( I will tell you a story). Thu West Indies la janaar naahi. (You will not go to the West Indies). You focus on this match and the final, if you get a chance; then you focus on your SSC exams. You are not going to the West Indies, but let me also assure you that if you continue to play this, that day is not too far off’, and his words came true. I went to Pakistan the same year and thereafter we continued to rub shoulders with each other.”

Tendulkar could see Rajbhai’s passion for the game when he was the manager of the Indian team in Pakistan in 2006.

‘Lucky’

“He had a love and passion for the game like any other youngster. He has always helped youngsters and I am one of the lucky ones. There were occasions when he helped youngsters go on foreign tours; I did not have deep pockets then. He was instrumental in bringing in sponsors and he made sure that I went to London a couple of times.”

On behalf of the Dungarpur family, the former administrator’s nephew Shivendra thanked the club for the gesture. Present at the function were cricketers Nilesh Kulkarni, Atul Ranade, Ratnakar Shetty (GM, Administration and Game Development, BCCI), Kapil Malhotra (former manager of the Indian team) and Rajan Hiranandani (Treasurer, CCI).