NOTE: Mangalore = (Undivided South Canara / Dakshina Kannada)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Budhi Kunderan -1st Mangalorean Cricketer

Budhi Kunderan

Budhisagar Krishnappa Kunderan born on 2 October 1939 in Mulky, near Mangalore in Karnataka. He was an Indian cricketer (international fame).

He played as a wicket keeper for the most of his career, and was an exciting but unorthodox right-handed batsman.

Born on the same date as Mahatma Gandhi, Budhi Kunderan was rather more violent in his chosen profession, hitting the cricket ball with a power and confidence that came naturally to Indian wicketkeepers who knew they had two strings to their bow. He opened India's batting in 21 of the 34 innings he played, averaging 41 in that position. His Karnataka captain V Subramanya rated Kunderan as a better batsman and wicketkeeper than his contemporary Farokh Engineer. Kunderan played his early cricket in Mumbai but, with Naren Tamhane established as wicketkeeper there, Kunderan turned his attention to Railways. It was a good move. Kunderan was picked to play for India even before he had played a single first-class game and showed his gratitude to his Railways captain Lala Amarnath by scoring a double-century on Ranji debut.

An aggressive but unorthodox batsman who was highly skilled with the gloves, Kunderan made his Test debut against Australia in 1959-60 without having played a single first-class match. In all, Kunderan played 18 Tests and scored 981 runs at 32.70 with two hundreds and three fifties. Against England in 1963-64, he became the first wicketkeeper in history to pass 500 runs for a Test series.

At 20 Kunderan played for India ahead of the older Engineer and gave a glimpse of his approach by getting out hit-wicket to the Australian fast bowler Ian Meckiff while attempting to pull him. "He took batting into a different dimension," says Indian offspinner Erapalli Prasanna. "The 192 he made in Chennai against England in 1964 was an innings that was ahead of its time - the sort that today's big hitters would play. As wicketkeeper he showed the others how to keep to BS Chandrasekhar, using his body as a second line of defence. He was flamboyant, versatile and a good human being." Kunderan was the first wicketkeeper to score over 500 runs in a series, as he did in that 1963-64 series against England. Three years later he opened injury-hit India's bowling in a Test match in England. That was to be his last Test. He was 29.

Rather like the characters Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Tom Stoppard's play, things happened around Kunderan that he could not control or understand. He started in Mumbai but moved to Railways from where he replaced the Mumbai wicketkeeper in the Indian team. He played innings of coruscating brilliance for his country without any guarantee that he would be picked for the next Test. He was picked when he was not doing particularly well and dropped when he was not doing badly. When he went to play league cricket in Lancashire after the 1967 series, the cricket board simply forgot to call him for the series in Australia.

Budhi played his first Test against Richie Benaud's Australians in 1960 at the Brabourne Stadium after playing just two first class matches. He succeeded 'keepers like Naren Tamhane, Probir Sen and Nana Joshi.

Playing for Mysore from the 1965 season, Budhi kept wicket to Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, Erapalli Prasanna and Srinivas Venkataraghavan after which he was back in the Indian team for the 1966-67 series against the West Indies.

He smashed 79 in 92 minutes at the Brabourne Stadium. It was in the same Test that Gary Sobers called back Budhi to the crease, gesturing the batsman that he had taken a `bump catch.'

Budhi changed his surname from Kunderam to Kunderan in 1964. He's the first of three Indian cricketers who played a Test before making an appearance in the Ranji Trophy. The other two are Vivek Razdan and Parthiv Patel.

He's also among the five Indian batsmen who scored a double century (205 for Railways v Jammu & Kashmir in 1959-60) in his first Ranji match. Budhi scored 2367 runs in the Ranji Trophy tournament.

Budhi was also in a select band of wicketkeepers who have scored in excess of 500 runs in a Test series. He aggregated 525 runs against the M.J.K. Smith-led England in 1963-64.
He played as a professional in the Lancashire league, for Drumpellier in Scotland and for Scotland in the Benson and Hedges Cup in England.

Disillusioned by the politics in Indian cricket, Kunderan left the country at the age of 30. In the early 1980s, he played for Scotland in the Benson and Hedges Cup in England. Kunderan had lived in Glasgow, Scotland since the turn of the 1970s.He was diagnosed with lung cancer in October 2005.

Budhi Kunderan, the former Indian wicketkeeper died from lung cancer at the age of 66.on 23 June 2006 in Glasgow, Scotland


Sunny said...

what about N N Suvarna? Wasn't he the first cricketer from Mangalore?

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