Rest in peace 'Tiger'
webmaster - Thursday 22nd September 2011

From memory, Sunday 18th June 1961 was a hot sunny day as Oxford University broke off from their three day game at Old Trafford to play an afternoon benefit match against Lancashire at Trafalgar Road, home of Southport and Birkdale CC.

Owing to the friendly, unrestricted atmosphere that accompanied the afternoon, groups of schoolboys were allowed to stand by the old wooden pavilion to gather treasured autographs from their heroes.

I was there as a 12 year old with my father. Whilst I acquired the autographs of the Lancashire team and some of the Oxford team, the most treasured was that of the 20 year old Oxford captain, the 9th Nawab of Pataudi.

It was a shock therefore to learn on 1st July, just thirteen days after I'd seen him, that he had been involved in a horrific car accident. He was a passenger in the car when his right eye was pierced by a shard of glass from the windscreen.

Having seen him at the Oval in August, it is unfortunate that today, just over 50 years after first meeting him at Trafalgar Road, we report the death from idiopathic_pulmonary_fibrosis of this talented cricketer.


the following are obituaries from various sources

Inevitably the motor accident made it difficult for Pataudi to judge the length of the bowling which he faced. His plight was the worse because he had always relied rather more on instinct than technique.

Immediately, though, he undertook the challenge of rebuilding his career. After four months of concentrated experiment in the nets, he accepted an invitation to captain the Indian Board President’s XI against Ted Dexter's MCC team in Hyderabad.

When Pataudi went in to bat, with a contact lens in his near sightless right eye, he found he was seeing two balls, six or seven inches apart. By picking the inner one, he managed to reach 35. At this point he removed the contact lens, and, keeping the bad eye closed, succeeded in taking his score to 70.

A month later, in December 1961, he made his Test début for India against England in Delhi. In his first four Test innings he registered scores of 13, 64, 32 and 103 (the latter in only 140 minutes), contributing largely to India's first victory in a series against England.

This was a truly heroic achievement. By the end of the season Pataudi reckoned that he had discovered the best means of overcoming his handicap, pulling the peak of his cap over his right eye to eliminate the blurred double image he otherwise saw.

He still had difficulty, though, in judging flight against slow bowlers. Inevitably, genius lost something to caution and orthodoxy.

Naturally, his record begs the question of what he might have achieved with two good eyes. Yet Pataudi never made excuses, or indulged in self pity. In his autobiography, Tiger’s Tale (1969), he admitted simply that he had had to abandon his early ambition of becoming one of the greatest batsmen. Instead, he wrote: "I have concentrated on trying to make myself a useful one, and a better fielder than my father was."

The son of the 8th Nawab of Pataudi, he was born Mohamed Mansur Ali Khan on January 5th 1941 at Bhopal, of which his maternal grandfather was Nawab. Pataudi, some 30 miles south west of Delhi and about the size of Rutland, had been granted to a forebear who supported the British during the Indian Mutiny.

The boy grew up in a palace (The Pataudi Palace) boasting 150 rooms, run by well over 100 servants — eight of whom were employed as personal attendants to the son and heir, known from infancy as 'Tiger'. There was also a personal tutor, who ensured that he could speak English as well as Urdu.

His father ruled his tiny state as absolute monarch, albeit ultimately under British supervision. A talented cricketer in his own right, he had scored 238 not out for Oxford against Cambridge in 1931. Subsequently he played for England against Australia on the tour of 1932-33, making a century on his Test début in Sydney. It was said, though, that he disapproved of Douglas Jardine's bodyline tactics.

Though plagued by ill health, he became one of the very few cricketers to play for two countries when he captained the Indians in England in 1946. He sent his son to prep school at Hemel Hempstead, where his old coach, Frank Woolley, instructed the youngster.

Whereas Pataudi senior had been known for the elegance and delicacy of his stroke play, his son transcended classical style, relying at this early stage on eagle eyes that enabled him to get away with the slashing cut and the cross batted pull, even against bowling which seemed to demand respect.

His father died in 1952, aged only 41, so that Tiger, aged 11, became the 9th Nawab of Pataudi. In 1954 he went to Winchester. It is said that Pataudi senior, filling in an early application form for the school, had answered a question about the boy’s 'other aptitudes' with just two words: "My son".

At Winchester 'the Noob', as he was known, soon established himself as a cricketing prodigy. During his four years in the school XI he scored 2,956 runs at an overall average of 56.85. In 1959, when he was captain, he conjured 1,068 runs in the season, beating the school record established by Douglas Jardine in 1919. For good measure he also, in partnership with Christopher Snell, carried off the Public Schools Rackets championship.

Universally popular, he possessed even at this stage a certain dignity of bearing. Reflecting later on a beating he had received for some trivial offence, he remarked that it was better to have a sore bottom than a swollen head.

In 1957, in the summer holidays, Pataudi made his first class début for Sussex. By 1959 he was good enough to score 52 against a Yorkshire attack which included Trueman, Close, Illingworth and Don Wilson. Soon afterwards he went up to Balliol, purportedly to read Arabic and French. In his first summer at Oxford he made a century (131) against Cambridge at Lord's.

The next year, 1961, Pataudi, now captain of Oxford, reached his absolute peak. Against the full Yorkshire attack, which included four England bowlers, he scored 106 and 103 not out. When he turned Trueman, who was bowling at full pace, off his stumps for four down to long leg, the Yorkshire champion raised his hand in salute.

By the end of June, with three games still to play, Pataudi was only 92 runs short of his father's record total of 1,307 runs in an Oxford season. Then came the accident in Hove.

His extraordinary determination and success in overcoming the injury to his right eye led to his being appointed vice captain for India's tour of the West Indies early in 1962. When the skipper, Nari Contractor, was laid out by a vicious delivery from Charlie Griffith in the game against Barbados, Pataudi took over and became, at 21 years and 77 days, the youngest captain in the history of Test cricket.

In fact this was something of a poisoned chalice. At that period the Indian side was bereft of adequate fast bowling, while internal rifts and divisions added to the captain’s difficulties. In 1964, however, Pataudi's side managed to draw all the matches in a home series against England. In the fourth Test, in Delhi, he scored 203 not out in the second innings .

With typical honesty Pataudi played down this achievement, explaining that his runs had largely been made when the match was already dead. He was far prouder of his 128 not out in the first Test against Australia in Madras in October 1964. And in the next Test, at Bombay, his innings of 86 and 53 helped India to what was only their second victory against the Australians.

In 1965 Pataudi led his country to a 1-0 victory in a four match rubber against New Zealand, saving his team in the second Test at Calcutta with an innings of 153, and then scoring 113 at Delhi. In 1966-67, however, the West Indian tourists proved too powerful.

The short tour of England in 1967 was marred by poor weather and a spate of injuries to the England team. India lost all three Tests; Pataudi, however, batted superbly in the first game at Headingley, scoring 64 and 148. He maintained good form with the bat in Australia in 1967, averaging 56.50: the Indians, however, were defeated in all four Tests.

Pataudi did not play Test cricket from 1970 to 1972. Meanwhile in 1971 the government stripped Indian princes of their titles, so that he became known officially, though not popularly, as Mansur Ali Khan.

When he returned to the Indian side in January 1973 the team was led by Ajit Wadekar. He was, however, reinstated as captain for the tightly contested home series, which the West Indians won 3-2 in the final Test.

After dislocating a finger in the first Test, and missing the second, Pataudi was unable to find any form with the bat in the remaining matches, and never played for India again. In 46 Test matches he had scored 2,793 runs at an average of 34.91. As captain he led India to nine victories and suffered 19 defeats, with 19 matches drawn.

In 1966 Pataudi had captained Sussex in the county championship. In Indian domestic cricket he had at first played for Delhi in the North Zone, before transferring in 1966 to Hyderabad in the South Zone .

Between 1957 and 1976 he played 310 first class matches, scoring a total of 15,425 runs at an average of 33.67. A fine fielder, he took 208 catches.

Though stripped of his title, Pataudi retained a certain regal bearing, notwithstanding his affability and laconic humour. After retiring he undertook some work in journalism and television, and even dabbled briefly and unenthusiastically in politics. More recently he had been on the council of the Indian Premier League. On the whole, though, he preferred playing bridge and trying his hand as a cook; at his house in the centre of Delhi he was a most generous host. He also kept an apartment in London.

The crux of his life, however, was his family. In 1969 he married the film star Sharmila Tagore, the great grandniece of the poet and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore. A rare beauty, and charming with it, she had made her name in Satyajit Ray's The World of Apu (1959). When she married Pataudi she converted from Hinduism to Islam.

Their son, Saif Ali Khan, born in 1970, has become one of the heart throbs of Bollywood. Of their two daughters, Saba is a jewellery designer, while Soha is a film actress, recently seen in Mumbai Cutting.

In 2004 the 'Noob', as he always remained to his school contemporaries, was invited back to Winchester for the Ad Portas ceremony, in which distinguished old boys are honoured. In general those received are expected to declaim in Latin. Pataudi, while greatly touched, preferred to end his speech in Urdu.

Tests between England and India are now played for the Pataudi Trophy, a trophy commissioned by the MCC in 2007 in honour of the 8th Nawab. 'Tiger' was at the Oval in August to present it to England captain Andrew Strauss after his side's 4-0 series win.

Mohamed Mansur Ali Khan, formerly the 9th Nawab of Pataudi, died today, in Delhi, at the age of 70. He was suffering from idiopathic_pulmonary_fibrosis, a lung infection for which there is no cure.


Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, who overcame an impaired eye to become a visionary and pioneering captain of the Indian Test team, has died in Dehli at the age of 70. He was suffering from idiopathic_pulmonary_fibrosis, a lung infection for which there is no cure. He is survived by his wife Sharmila Tagore, his son Saif Ali Khan and his two daughters Soha and Saba Ali Khan. Tagore, Saif and Soha are prominent actors in India's film industry.

Pataudi played 46 Tests between 1961 and 1975 and was arguably India's greatest captain. He was given the leadership in his fourth Test, when he was 21, in Barbados in 1962, because the regular captain Nari Contractor was in hospital after getting hit on the head by Charlie Griffith. Pataudi was the youngest Test captain, a record that stood until 2004. He led India in 40 Tests and had a successful career despite impaired vision in his right eye, which was damaged in a car accident. He also captained Sussex and Oxford University.

India won nine Tests under Pataudi and it was during his tenure that the team began to believe it could succeed. He advocated the multi-spinner strategy because he believed India needed to play to their strengths and used it to achieve their first overseas Test win, in Dunedin in 1968. India went on to record their first away series victory, beating New Zealand 3-1. Pataudi was the Wisden Cricketer of the Year that year.

Pataudi scored 2793 runs at an average of 35 and made six centuries, the biggest of which was an unbeaten 203 against England in Delhi in 1964. However, many rate his 75, scored on one leg with one eye, against Australia in Melbourne in 1967-68 as his finest. Pataudi retired in 1975 after West Indies' tour of India. After retirement, Pataudi served as a match referee between 1993 and 1996, officiating in two Tests and ten ODIs, but largely stayed away from cricket administration.

Pataudi was the ninth and last Nawab of Pataudi until 1971, when the Indian government abolished royal entitlements through the 26th Amendment to the Constitution. He was also the editor of Sportsworld, the now defunct cricket magazine, and a television commentator in the 1980s but gradually withdrew from an active role, though he remained a strong voice in Indian cricket.

Since 2007, bilateral Test series between India and England have been contested for the Pataudi Trophy, named after his family for their contribution to Anglo-Indian cricket. Pataudi's father, Iftikhar Ali Khan, represented both England and India in Tests. Pataudi had taken ill since his return from England this summer after presenting the Pataudi Trophy to Andrew Strauss at the end of the four Test series.

Pataudi was also a consultant to the BCCI from 2007 and part of the first IPL governing council but refused to continue in the role in October 2010, when the BCCI made significant changes to the league following the sacking of Lalit Modi as its chairman. As the spate of controversies increased, Pataudi was the only member of the governing council to admit the body's culpability, saying it "failed in its role to monitor the IPL's administration and be more questioning of decisions taken." In an forceful speech at the 2010 Raj Singh Dungarpur memorial lecture at the Cricket Club of India, Pataudi had said it was the duty of the BCCI to take moral leadership of the game.

In April this year, Pataudi also took the BCCI to court in April this year, claiming the board had not abided by its contract with him while he was a consultant as well as a member of the IPL governing council.

At the opening ceremony of the 2011 Champions League Twenty20 today, Ravi Shastri called for a minute of silence in honour of Pataudi.


Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi (1941-2011), fondly called Tiger by his associates, was a cricketer ahead of his time.


FEBRUARY 13, 1964: Pataudi, who hit 203 runs (not out), going out to resume batting on the fifth and final day of the fourth Test against England at the Ferozeshah Kotla grounds in Delhi. The Test ended in a draw.

MANSUR ALI KHAN was the Nawab of Pataudi. In cricketing circles, he was the undisputed prince. Yet, he could be a commoner, too, as Salim Durrani, the uncrowned prince of Indian cricket, once revealed. "He had no qualms about sitting on the floor." His death on September 22nd from a lung infection has robbed Indian cricket of a most charismatic character.

Pataudi, fondly called 'Tiger' by his associates, was a cricketer ahead of his time. His leadership was exceptionally brilliant and his talent an awesome treasure for a man who had a passion for the sport. Cricket became close to his heart because he had a legacy to live up to. His father, Iftikhar Ali Khan, played for England and then for India. It was natural for Tiger to try and emulate his illustrious father.

Iftikhar, who was a hockey Olympian too, ruled Pataudi, a small state in Punjab and now part of Jhajjar in Haryana, and Tiger was the ninth and last Nawab of the state.

Tiger missed the guidance of his father, who died on the day the son was celebrating his 11th birthday. In Tiger's Tale, a racy autobiography, Pataudi remembered his father as a "man of very strong principles. He was used to having his own way." Pataudi Senior was known for his ability to carry the team as a unit. Tiger followed in his father's footsteps. His greatest achievement lay in making the team realise the importance of playing as a unit. Parochialism was rampant but he quelled it with a firm hand. "We are playing for India," he would remind the team. His father achieved a similar distinction when leading India on the 1946 tour to England, ensuring that there was no factionalism.

That Pataudi was of royal lineage helped him. He had had the best of education and cricket grooming in England. He went on to captain Oxford and then Sussex. It was amazing that five months after a car accident that cost him his right eye, Pataudi was making his Test début and in less than a year leading the side.

Pataudi's appointment as deputy to Nari Contractor was part of the grooming process that the selectors had planned out. Contractor was expected to play a good five seasons or so, and that was considered adequate for Pataudi to learn the art of leading the side. He became captain soon at 21.


JANUARY 9, 1953: A 12 year old Pataudi being coached at the Sandham and Gover School at Wandsworth, England. Frank Woolley (left) also coached Pataudi Sr. Alf Gover, former England cricketer who owned the school, is watching.

His ascendancy to the captaincy came under the most demanding of circumstances during the tour to the West Indies in 1961. Contractor was felled by a Charlie Griffith bouncer in Barbados, and Tiger suddenly found himself saddled with the enormous responsibility of leading a bunch that included seniors such as Polly Umrigar, Vijay Manjrekar, Chandu Borde and Ramakant Desai.

Those were traumatic times, and he would often remember them with sadness. He once said in an interview: "The injury [to Contractor] had all of us vulnerable." He sought the guidance of Umrigar and Manjrekar and admitted later that they were "kind" to him. In fact, he went on to captain the team in 40 of the 46 Tests he played in, with extraordinary authority.

He epitomised optimism in a team that craved for victories. "We are playing to win," his announcement in the dressing room shocked and surprised even the seniors. "We are doomed to lose," was the accepted approach. Pataudi changed it with his unstinted faith in his colleagues.

Born in Bhopal, the only son in a family of four children, Pataudi studied at the Wellham School in Dehra Dun and made his first trip to England as an 11 year old to continue his education at Winchester College. Accompanied by his mother, shortly after the tragic death of Pataudi Sr from a heart attack while playing polo, the young lad had some grand company on the ship: cricketing stars such as Frank Worrell, Everton Weekes, Clyde Walcott and the legendary Vinoo Mankad.

It was often suggested that Pataudi was 'aloof'. This was not true. He had his reasons for picking his inner circle. A man of few words, they said. Again, not true. Abbas Ali Baig, who knew Pataudi for 50 years right from his schooldays, said: "Tiger had a fantastic sense of humour and was delightful company. He did not believe in making statements." His sense of humour and one liners, which could leave one in splits, reflected his friendliness. "He was a lovable prankster," said Ajit Wadekar, former captain.


Pataudi and his wife, Sharmila Tagore. Besides his wife, he is survived by son Saif and daughters Saba and Soha.

Pataudi was a cricketer for all seasons. He did not subscribe to fixed notions about the game. He was open to suggestions and very willing to innovate. "He was a bowler's delight. He would give you the field you wanted and back you all the way. Tiger was the best Indian captain ever. He taught us to be together, believe in ourselves and to win," remembered Bishan Singh Bedi, the great leg spinner.

Bedi should know, for Pataudi was the architect of India's faith in spin. As a captain, he noted that India needed a couple of top-quality fast bowlers. "We must find world class fast bowlers on a top priority basis. We have had none at all in India since the 1930s," he wrote in his autobiography. He found a way out by encouraging the spinners and the results showed. The famed spin quartet of Bedi, Erapalli Prasanna, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar and Srinivas Venkataraghavan came to torment the best batting line ups and shaped some memorable victories for India.

"He taught us to win and would tell us that no team was unbeatable," said Prasanna, who enjoyed Pataudi's confidence. The two would plot against their victims. Tiger loved to hunt the opposition and relied on the spinners to deliver. Prasanna and Bedi asked for and got the field they wanted, but Chandrasekhar always left it to Pataudi.

He said, "I never set my field! I would prefer a slip, a leg slip and a short leg. Tiger knew it. He would adjust the field depending on how I bowled. He was a brilliant captain and a lovely batsman to watch. I wonder what he would have achieved had he not been handicapped with the loss of an eye. I loved his openness. He was large hearted and never behaved like a senior. People felt nervous in his company but we were great friends. For all his royal background, Tiger came across as a simple man."

Indian cricket took wing under Pataudi's captaincy. That he did not support the idea of playing for a draw helped. The young team rallied round him, and soon India was excelling overseas. The team won its first ever away series in New Zealand in 1967, thanks to Pataudi's faith in the players.

His fear of flying was well known in cricketing circles, leading him to undertake long train journeys when travelling within the country. His square on stance, with his cap peaked over the right eye, gave him an unorthodox look, but Tiger was just the cricketer a captain would have desired and an ambassador the fans would have admired. Statistics, 2,793 runs with six centuries, do not portray the joy that he brought cricket lovers.

Pataudi was a compelling cricketer to watch. His batting was an art that he came to develop on the strength of a natural flair to dominate. Equally exceptional was his fielding, which stood out all the more in an era when Indians were not known for being athletic on the field. He patrolled the covers with the ferocity of a tiger. He exhibited sensational anticipation and was a graceful sight on the field, swiftly intercepting the ball, and his quick as a flash pick and throw action was breathtaking.

"Give me Tiger Pataudi in the covers and I'll take on any batsman in the world," wrote Bedi in his tribute to the captain who mentored his international debut.

The noted cricket writer K.V. Gopala Ratnam, whom Pataudi respected highly, read him the best. He once wrote: "Possessing felicity of strokes, fluid and grace, and a certain elegance, the young Nawab is a class by himself. The way he gently taps the ball is a delight to watch. Even when he sends the ball to the fence, there is no vulgar exhibition of strength or force, it looks as if he has just tickled the ball and made it gallop. As a fielder, Pataudi is peerless. His leadership, particularly the handling of the bowling, was clever and shrewd. He rightly puts the premium on winning."

The cricketing world often wondered how much more Pataudi could have achieved if he had not suffered the eye injury. It was a blow no doubt. "Close one eye and try reading a book. You will know the difference. Tiger played the best of bowlers with one eye," Baig said. Many teammates tried to bat with one eye closed and soon realised how great Pataudi was. The injury happened even before Pataudi had made his Test début. The class batsman that he was, Pataudi made an early mark with a century in only his third Test.

Pataudi commanded respect from all quarters. Administrators would support his views and demands. Players would not hesitate to confide in him. "He never held any rancour against any individual," emphasised Bedi, who revered Tiger for his commitment to Indian cricket. What would upset Pataudi? "A talented player not giving his 100 per cent," remembered Bedi. The player who often caused Pataudi to lose his cool was Durrani. The all rounder was rated high by Pataudi but sadly he ended up an under achiever.

Pataudi led by example. He could produce incredible shots on difficult pitches, like his assault that left Graham McKenzie's reputation in tatters in a Test at Melbourne. Pataudi batted at No. 7, owing to a thigh injury, and decimated the famed Australian fast bowler with some daring shots, mostly off the back foot. It was a heroic performance as he made 75 and 85. Pataudi was among the few batsmen who played the lofted shots in Tests, sometimes even off fast bowlers.


NOVEMBER 5, 1969: Pataudi pulls Ashley Mallett for four during his innings of 95 on the second day of the first Test between India and Australia at Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai.

Having learnt the finer points of the game in England, Pataudi was a firm believer in the traditions of the game. Gamesmanship did not find a place in his cricket dictionary even though he remained an aggressive and dynamic leader. There was a rare flourish in his batting, but it was his captaincy that enhanced his stature. He had to mould a team that included players just out of college. This fact meant his leadership qualities were put to an early test. He did not fail his supporters.

As a captain he was much admired. He was simple, yet firm, and brought great dignity to his job. "It was a reflection of his royal grooming and impeccable cricket education in England," recalled Mohinder Amarnath, who made his début under Pataudi's captaincy.

Prof. Surya Prakash Chaturvedi, who has authored many cricket books, has an interesting tale that highlights Pataudi's self respect as a captain. Chaturvedi said: "Once England captain Brian Close walked out to toss. The Englishman had assumed Pataudi would be following him. But Tiger had stayed back because tradition demanded that the home captain invite his visiting counterpart for the toss. Close obviously had forgotten but quickly realised his mistake and invited Tiger, who had successfully made his point without souring the atmosphere."

In Pataudi's opinion, captains belonged to two categories: pushers and pullers. A captain who motivated his players by setting an example was a puller. The one who goaded his players into performing was a pusher. He rated Garry Sobers and Richie Benaud as 'pullers' and Ray Illingworth and Mike Brearley as 'pushers'. No marks for guessing Pataudi's category.

Sujit Mukherjee, scholar, cricket writer and first class player, analysed Pataudi's role brilliantly when he wrote: "His long reign up to 1969 assumed the appearance of an epoch in India's cricket history. This epoch was marked mainly by a growing reliance on youth to carry the burden of a Test cap. During 1964-69, more young cricketers were called to national duty than at any five-year period earlier…. Despite their faults of technique and temperament, these young teams have seldom provided dull fare. And Pataudi has symbolised this spirit of the unexpected throughout his tenure (but) the manner of his deposition (in 1971) was ungracious."

To many, Pataudi remained the most 'brilliant' if not the most 'successful' Indian captain. The charisma, grace and flair that he brought to the job instilled an amazing self belief through the ranks. The respect that he commanded on and off the field remains unmatched.

Pataudi lost his captaincy to Wadekar for the tour to West Indies owing to Vijay Merchant's casting vote as chairman of the selection committee. "I said sorry to him, and believe me the incident did not have any impact on our friendship," said Wadekar. The sporting Pataudi played three Tests under Wadekar's captaincy in 1972-73 before returning to lead India in four of the five Tests in a home series against Clive Lloyd's West Indies in 1974-75. That happened to be Pataudi's farewell international appearance.

The immensely modest private person, Pataudi had some rough moments too. Being arrested for allegedly poaching blackbuck was uncharacteristic, as was his unsuccessful contest in the 1991 Lok Sabha election from Bhopal. After finishing with playing cricket, he took to media work, commentated for a while, performed the job of international match referee for two seasons and served on the governing council of the Indian Premier League but refrained from taking up roles in coaching or selection.

For some of us, a gesture of his, made close to four decades ago, will remain unforgettable. At the end of a cricket final in Pataudi, where he stood as umpire in the match, the affable Tiger showered us with gifts: school bags with plenty of accessories, shoes, caps and shirts. They were priceless treasures for the budding cricketers amongst us.

Married to the film star Sharmila Tagore, he is survived by son Saif and daughters Saba and Soha besides his wife. He was 70. Stars may enrich the game in future, too, but there will never be another Nawab of cricket like him.


Friday 23rd September 2011

A republican prince

The Nawab of Pataudi's final journey