A cricketing living legend who collected his Arjuna Award after four decades

People come and go but legends are always remembered as they are the true inspiring force for generations ahead.

It was indeed a privileged ocassion to meet a greatest cricketer of his time known as a sixer man, tall and still hale and hearty Salim Durrani in PCI yesterday, at the age of 86, alongwith other friends.

There was a time about five decades ago when his sixes were the point of debate and discussions amongst the billions of cricket fans in India acknowledging all round applause. He used to hit sixes on the demand of the delirious crowd.

An all-rounder, popular for hitting sixes, Durrani played in active international cricket for thirteen long years in 29 tests, with the 1961, 62 home series against England claiming 18 wickets in the entire series, defeating England. He was the first Indian cricket who started hitting sixes in international test matches.

An outstanding batsman and a left armed bowler having taken lots of wickets, Salim Durrani primarily belonged to Junagarh, Gujarat and his father Abdul Aziz was also a renowned cricketer having played test matches for India during 1935 to 1940 and brought laurels for the country.

A down to earth, jovial and happy man even at 86, having also acted as a Hero in a movie called Charitra in 1973, about more than four n a half decades ago with the famous bollywood actress Parveen Bobby Salim Durrani Sahib has refuted that he ever had love relationship with her as was the controversy raised in the then bollywood magazines n rest of the newspapers in the country.

He added that he was shocked, really grief stricken and felt very bad to hear her traumatic death inside a house in Bombay with nobody even knowing about her sad demise with her dead body found in her house after few days.

Durrani Sahab says that she was just a good friend as she also belonged to Junagarh, Gujarat from where he too belonged. He said the media always make mountains out of the mole and so was my relationship as a friend with Late Parveen Bobby twisted and blown out of proportion for nothing but enhancing their TRPs.

He was answering about this interesting query put forward by senior journalist Shelly Vishwajit who readily and as a matter of privilege offered few Bacardi drinks to him despite his calm deniel, insisting that he will bear for it. He ocaasionally used to drop in the Press Club of India for drinks n lunch. He merrily hugged us n posed for few photographs.

A tall man giving a Pathan look though bit thin now, Salim Durrani was born in Kabul Afghanisthan on 11th December, 1934 and later on shifted to India during partition. He is currently living in Jaipur Rajasthan.

He was the first cricketer to have been honoured with the prestigious ARJUNA AWARD conferred on him in 1962 but sounds interesting that this handsome naive cricketer was never bothered to collect it n finally getting it in 2013, not even knowing that the awardees of this coveted award are entitled for the first class to n fro train ticket. A small function was announced to deliver this award the same year.

Even at the age of 86, though not in good health he keeps himself busy inspiring budding cricketers giving them tips n blessings.

According to Bharath Ramraj in Salim Durani is the only Test cricketer, who was born in Afghanistan. The Kabul-born cricketer, Durani bowled slow left-arm orthodox and was known for his striking prowess as a batsman. During his childhood days, Durani took part in a variety of sports like cricket, tennis and football. However, cricket was his first love. His father Abdul Aziz was a decent cricketer, who once played for India in an ‘unofficial’ Test match against the Australians in 1935-36. As his father used to work for the ruler of Jamnnagar, he shifted with his family to that place.

Even after the partition, Durani (Jnr) continued to live in Jamnagar. However, his father made his move to Karachi and became well-known as a coach. It is believed that one of his students was none other than the legendary opening batsman from Pakistan, Hanif Mohammad.

Durani made his Test debut at the age of 25 against a Richie Benaud-led Australian side in Mumbai in 1960. Interestingly, he got his chance only because Jasu Patel, the off-spinner, who had turned the previous Test match played in Kanpur in India’s favour with a bagful of wickets, was down with food poisoning.

Durani’s greatest moment came in the series against England in 1961-62. If he took eight wickets in Kolkata, then in the next game in Chennai, he ended up with a 10-for. India tasted victory in that series. In 1962, Durani also registered his one and only Test hundred against West Indies in Port of Spain, Trinidad. In 1966 though, after playing with guts and gumption against Charlie Griffith and Wes Hall to score a fifty in a Test match in Mumbai, he suffered a knee injury and with the selectors looking out for younger players, he soon found himself in the wilderness.

Durani though, made a sterling comeback into the side by playing a key role in India’s first ever Test win against West Indies in Port of Spain, Trinidad, 1971. It was his double strike to remove Clive Lloyd and Garry Sobers in the second innings that paved the way for India to achieve a historic victory. Durani played his last Test against England at the Brabourne stadium in Mumbai in 1973. In fact, he had made his Test debut, too, at the same stadium.

Even now, connoisseurs fondly remember Durani for his six-hitting prowess. In 1973, when he was dropped for a Test match in Kanpur, the crowd had shouted, ”No Durani, no Test!”. Durani was also known for his dashing looks and acted in a film called Charitra opposite Parveen Babi in 1973. Durani was the first ever cricketer to win the Arjuna Award. In 2011, he was honoured with the C.K. Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award.


Sunil Negi

Sunil Negi is a senior journalist and president of Uttarakhand Journalists Forum ( Regd). He usually writes on socio political subjects and have been contributing articles in print media for the last several years. Mr. Sunil Negi had been felicitated by All India Achievers conference's Pride of India and excellence awards apart from several other recognitions. He has translated a book on ecological disaster of Uttarakhand of June 2013 and edited and published two editions of Uttaranchal's Who's Who.

Related Articles

Back to top button