The legendary cricketer, sterling statesman to the game, and an amazing personality, Pahlan (Polly) Umrigar passed away today. This was reported in the 10 pm. CNN-IBN news channel.
Polly kaka was one of the last great Parsi cricketers and till his last days was an active member of the cricketing community. His curatorial services at the Bombay cricket stadiums will be his last legacy.
Polly Umrigar, the former Indian captain who played 59 Tests between 1948 and 1962, has died in Mumbai. He was suffering from lymph cancer and lost the battle at 8:30 this evening at his residence.
Umrigar, who will be remembered as one of the heroic figures in Indian cricket, was an early pillars of India’s middle order in the ’50s and ’60s. Having learnt his trade in the competetive maidans in Mumbai, where the emphasis was on technique and application, he went on to break several batting records, including the most Tests, highest aggregate and most hundreds. A burly six footer, Umrigar was a domineering figure at the crease – whether it was his batting, bowling, or captaincy. He was renowned for his full-blooded drives but, as he showed in the memorable summer in the Caribbean in 1961-62, he could also hook and pull powerfully.
More than his achievements at the crease, it was the fact that he helped shape the few Indian triumphs in his time. His vital 130, coming in at No. 7, helped India achieve their first-ever Test win, against England at Madras in 1952. His hundreds also paved the way for two more Test wins, against Pakistan at Mumbai in 1952 and New Zealand at Madras in 1956.
He was the first Indian to hit a Test double century, a feat he achieved against New Zealand at Hyderabad in 1955. He led India in eight Tests, winning two and losing two before he resigned the captaincy at Madras against West Indies in 1959 following a misunderstanding with the selectors. He is only one of two Indian cricketers (Vinoo Mankad being the other) to score a century and take five wickets in an innings – a feat he achieved against West Indies at Port of Spain in 1962. After retirement, he continued to serve Indian cricket as chairman of the selection committee, tour manager and BCCI executive secretary.
He is survived by two sons and a daughter.