CricInfo: I would like to start by asking you about the environment you grow up in, since you are connected with the royal family in Baroda and the Maharaja himself is a keen follower of the game and was also a patron of the game in fact. How did that help you in developing interest in the game?
DG Gaekwad: Well, the Gaekwads have a very big family tree and our
forefathers come from a small village in Nasik district of Maharashtra
state and are settled down here. One of our forefathers became the
ruler of Baroda. That was in the 19th century. Then most of the
Gaekwads migrated to Baroda. Actually I am not directly connected with
the ruling family but our forefathers had connections with the
forefathers of the ruling family. So we had some relation with the
present and past rulers and had a close relationship with late Fateh
Singh Rao, the Maharaja who was a good cricketer and keen follower of
the game. He had a good knowledge of the game as well.
Talking about the benefits which I got from the ruling family, as a
boy of 11 years I was a companion of the late Maharaja of Baroda and
stayed with him in the palace for nearly 12 years. During that period
we used to play cricket and used to talk about cricket and in the
1940's we had a team called the Prince's team and I used to play for
the team at the age of 11. We used to participate in the under-14 and
16 tournaments. In 1940 he got some well known cricketer like CS
Nayudu and Vijay Hazare. I had the great privilege of getting coached
by these great cricketers. That is how i got my initial coaching. The
coaching was not to that level as it is now as it is more
professional, scientific and technical. But I had the feel of these
cricketers and though they might not have had that much knowledge of
coaching, their way of playing and thinking made a lot of difference
to me. I watched Hazare bat against CS Nayudu whom I would rate as one
of the greatest leg spinners and learnt a lot by watching them. This
is how my cricket started. We had the prince's team and used to play
local matches, local tournaments and friendly matches.
I was playing cricket in school and college and then I played for
Bombay University and later for the Maharaji Sayajirao University in
1951. I was playing cricket right from the age of 8 or 10 and in 1940
and later in 1945-46, the trend of importing players from outside
started and at one time, even when I was scoring 100's in my school
days and 200's in my university days I was not able to find a place in
the Ranji team. At one stage, the Baroda team had 9 to 10 Indian
players - there was CS Nayudu, Nimbalkar, Hazare, Gul Mohammed, Amir
Elahi, Sohoni, Sadashiv Shinde, Hemu Adhikari and Kishenchand. So one
can imagine how difficult it was for me to get into the Ranji team
even after my good performances. You want to reach a higher level and
achieve your goal by working hard and persisting with that. This is
how I continued playing cricket. It was in 1947 that I got my first
break which was after the merger of states. Most of players left and
by 1949 there were only five or six players. Finally I got a chance to
play in the Ranji Trophy. I started playing first class cricket in
1947 in the knockout tournament.
CricInfo: You are talking about rivalry between Bombay, Baroda, Holkar. Do you remember any particular encounters which are still in your memory. Any particular contest which was really exciting?
DG Gaekwad: It's not an encounter in the real sense as there was rivalry
between the teams as each one of them wanted to win. I remember the
big record 577-run partnership between Gul Mohammed and Vijay Hazare.
Though I played in the 1947-48 season, I did not make much runs and we
lost in the very first matches in the two seasons. In 1948-49, I got
scored consecutive centuries - hundred in each innings against Gujarat
and 108 against Bombay.
The next year for the Baroda versus Holkar game, I said I would not
play the match as I had my BA exams that year. But they insisted that
I should play and they got the whites from my home and made me put on
the clothes. I was not satisfied with my form for I had not practiced
and wouldn't do justice, but they forced me to play. I usually go at
number three for I had made big scores and was sent in the same
position, but this time I made a duck. In the second innings, I did
not come at number three and Holkar's captain CK Nayudu came to me and
asked if I was afraid of getting a second duck.
CricInfo: Let me just fast forward to 1952 when you were first selected for
India on the tour of England. Did it come as a surprise or did you
expect the call up that time?
DG Gaekwad: No, I was not surprised. My selection in 1952 tour was based on my
Ranji performance. I had scored a number of centuries in the national
championship. In 1951, in an inter-university match, I scored a double
century for Poona against Bombay. SK Gurunathan who was a great
follower of mine, gave the scores and photographs of mine in the
papers. So, I don't think so it was a surprise selection as far as the
1952 tour was concerned.
CricInfo: You made your debut in the first Test at Leeds. It was marked the
debut of Fred Trueman. Do you recall the second innings when the score
board read 0/4 and could you tell us what was the reason for such a
DG Gaekwad: When I went to England in 1952, I was never an opening batsman. I
was always going at number three in the Ranji Trophy matches and never
opened for Baroda either. But on the 1952 tour, I was asked to open
the innings. I was surprised when I was asked to open in a tour game
against Essex, for I had not opened even for my state side. But I
accepted and scored 75 odd runs and since then I became an opening
Talking about 0-4, you know in those days they never covered the
wicket. Even if it drizzled one had to continue playing and the
wickets were so different from our Indian wickets. For England,
Trueman was just coming up and he wanted to prove himself. He was
really very quick with genuine pace and it was very difficult for us
to cope up with him.
CricInfo: It was also Trueman's First Test match
DG Gaekwad: It was Trueman's first Test match but I didn't give my wicket to