‘Hats off’ to the Jam Sahib, the prince of a little state, Nawanagar, but the king of a great game-cricket. The Jam Sahib of Nawanagar, Ranjitsinghji has won the admiration of thousands of holiday crowds of England, with his mastery strokes and chubby smile. Man may come and man many go, but no one will receive so much affection of the British people.
The last game of the season has been played. The last ball has been bowled. The bats have been oiled and put away. Players and spectators will be there. But, no more, sitting in the jolly Sunshine they will enjoy the superb strikers of the master blaster, Ranjitsinghji.
No more, Ranjitsinghji will come down the pavilion, with his bat and chubby smile to amuse them. No more can they enjoy his incomparable day, from the grandstands, till he shadow of the evening fall across the grass. No other player can provide so much contentment to their cricket thirst hearts. Ranjitsinghji has retired from cricket. He has to retire as he was already forty and had become fat.
Ranjitsinghji, the great Indian was a supreme master of the Englishman’s game. His achievement was mind boggling. He had the season’s average of 87, with a total of over, 3,000 runs. It was the highest point ever reached in English cricket.
Three times he had totaled over 3,000 runs and none had equaled that record. And he had the credit of scoring a double century in a single match and that too in a single day. And he scored the double century not against any feeble attack, but against the determined and resourceful bowling of Yorkshire.
In cricket, the way a batsman collects run is as much important as how many runs he collects. Washington Irving has said that “In literature as in finance, much paper and much poverty may exist side by side”. And in cricket too, many runs and much dullness may exit side by side. Criticizing the player who uses their talents only in making the graph of average tall, A.G. Gardiner says, “If cricket is menaced with creeping paralysis, it is because it is losing the spirit of joyful adventure and becoming a mere instrument for building up tables of adventures.
There dull, mechanic fellows who turn our runs with as little emotion as a machine turns out pins. . . . . . There is no color, no enthusiasm, and no character in their play. Cricket is not an adventure to them; it is a business. It was so with Shrewsbury. His technical perfection was astonishing, but the soul of the game was wanting in him.
There is no sunshine in his play, any swift surprises or splendid unselfishness. And without this thing, Jam Sahib of Nawanagar was an exception. He had the root of the matter in him. His play was as sunny as his appearance. He was not mister who stored runs. He was a millionaire who spent them with a splendid yet wise generosity. For this quality, he became a popular king at Nawanagar. Because his pleasure was in giving pleasure.
Ranjitsinghji had his unique way of playing. He combined in him an Eastern calm with an Eastern Swiftness. He waited for the ball with the stillness of a partner before it springs on its prey. He had quite a startling economy of action. The normal batsman obeying a natural impulse gets into motion as the bowler starts his run. They start acrobatic fits as soon as the bowler starts his run and at the end of the over, their legs have completed a circle with their bats, bodies have swayed this way or that way. But it was different with Ranjitsinghji. He stood motionless till the ball was on him. And without any flourish, the bat flashed and the stroke was over. And his was the most timely strokes.
The Jam Sahib, as a batsman stood in a class by himself. He had achieved maximum result with minimum effort our typical batsmen perform a series of complicated movements in playing the ball. But the Jam Sahib made a slight movement of his wrist and the ball raced to the ropes. “It is not a trick, nor magic.” It is simply the perfect economy of means to an end. Mr. Asquith stands in comparison with the Jam Sahib in his mastery of the fine art of omission of unessential. Mr. Asquith never uses a word too many. The Jam Sahib never uses an action too much. But both of them had achieved a completeness of effect.
Ranjitsinghji, had achieved a special place for him in the heart of the general public of the England. He had made India more understandable to its rules that were staying thousands of miles away. He had touched the heart of the many holyday crowds with his bat and smile. Many great Indians, like Gokhales, Banerjess and Tagore’s had visited England. They came and went; they remained unseen and unheard by the common mass. This person, who was dear to the common mass of the Britain and had returned to his little state in India, where he ruled as a good liberal should govern. The holyday crowd would no more see him. But he will remain alive in their memories for ever.