Professor Dinkar Balwant Deodhar, also known as 'The Grand Old Man of Indian Cricket', was one of the finest cricketers who never played for the Indian team. Deodhar was born and brought up in Pune and played for Maharashtra and the Hindus in the domestic circuit.
Deodhar completed his education from the Fergusson College, Pune, which was established by Bal Gangadhar Tilak. He made his first-class debut for the Hindus in the Bombay Triangular series in the year 1911.
Deodhar's career as a first-class cricketer lasted for more than 35 years. The prestigious Professor D.B. Deodhar Trophy is also named after him. Let us have a look at some of the astonishing facts about him.
Professor made his first-class debut in the domestic season of the year 1911-12, which was before the start of the First World War.
His first-class career lasted till the year 1946 when the 54-year-old professor finally decided to call it a day. The practice game between Maharashtra and Rest of India was the last first-class game for him which was played after the end of the Second World-War
English seamer William Henry Ashdown was only the second player to have achieved this feat. He made his first-class debut in 1914 at the age of 16 years against Oxford University. Before hanging up his boots in 1947, Ashdown played 487 matches, in which he scored more 22000 runs and scalped 600+ wickets.
Only captain to win Ranji Trophy for Maharashtra
In 1939-1940 Ranji Trophy season, Deodhar led the Maharashtra team to their maiden Ranji Trophy title. Maharashtra had never won a single game in the history of the tournament. Krishnarao Jadhav and Vijay Hazare were the pioneers in the title win for Maharashtra. In the finals of the Ranji Trophy, Vijay Hazare completed his thousand runs in first-class cricket.
In the next season, Maharashtra again emerged victorious after defeating Madras in the finals. Deodhar, the 48-year-old skipper, played a swashbuckling knock of 246 runs against the heavyweights Bombay. The game between Bombay and Maharashtra was originally scheduled for 3 days but went on till 5 days to allow both the teams to complete their first innings.
Scored century in both innings at the age of 52
A year before he retired from the first-class cricket, in the 1944-45 Ranji season, Maharashtra were facing their familiar foes Nawanagar and found themselves in trouble against the pace attack of Nawanagar.
At this juncture, Professor joined hands with Yeshwant Gokhale, and stitched together a partnership of 135 runs for the sixth wicket. Deodhar scored 105 runs in the first innings and also completed a tally of 4,000 runs in first-class cricket.
The entire Nawanagar fell for a meagre total of 151 runs in their first innings as Sadu Shinde put up an excellent performance with the ball for Maharashtra by picking a 5-fer for just 17 runs.
In the second innings, batting at number 6, Deodhar managed to score 141 runs in just 120 minutes. In these two hours, he added 216 runs to Maharashtra's scoreboard with Madhav Paranjape batting at the other end.
Beyond the game
Before Deodhar became Professor Deodhar, he was a part of the 1911-1915 batch at the Fergusson College in Pune where he received his Bachelor's Degree in Sanskrit.
Deodhar later joined the Sir Parashurambhau College (S.P. College), Pune as an Assistant Professor in the Sanskrit department. He continued his service as a Professor and used to teach students when not playing cricket.
He later retired from the job of professor and joined the Hindustan Times and accompanied the Indian team to England and Australia as a journalist. Professor also used to play football during off-seasons.
The elusive Test cap
In 1932, India were scheduled to play their first ever international Test match against England. Professor D.B. Deodhar, who was 40 years old and one of the stalwarts of domestic cricket at that time, wasn't selected in the squad for the match as he was considered too old to play Test cricket.
Although four years later in 1936, CK Nayudu and Cotah Ramaswami, who both were in their 40s were considered for the selection for the tour to England.
Senior Deodhar retired and Junior Deodhar debuted on the same day
It was September 7, 1947, the Rest of India and Maharashtra were all set to lock horns with each other for the first time in independent India at the Deccan Gymkhana in Pune. The 55-year-old Professor led the Maharashtra side with Vinoo Mankad leading the Rest of India team.
In the match, while the debutant Sharad Deodhar played his maiden first-class game, his father, Professor D.B Deodhar, played his last game first-class game. The Rest of India won the game by 9 wickets with the help of an unbeaten 42 runs knock by the skipper in the second innings.
Awards and Honours
In 1965, Professor was conferred with the Padma Shri Award by the Indian government for his valuable contribution in the field of sports. In 1973, BCCI started Prof. D.B. Deodhar trophy in the honour of him.
Later in 1991, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan, which is the third highest civilian award for an Indian. Along with him, Lala Amarnath and Kapil Dev were also selected as the recipient for the Padma Bhushan Award in sports.
In 1996, India Post issued commemorative stamps in the honour of him. In 2012, the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune, unveiled his statue outside the players dressing room entrance.