Budhi Kunderan, born October 2, 1939, was a wicketkeeper batsman much ahead of his time who could have relished the abridged formats of the modern game. Arunabha Sengupta lists 12 relatively little- known facts about the stalwart.

1. Budhi Kunderan was born Budhisagar Krishnappa Kundaram. He changed his name much later, when he was well into his international cricket career.

2. Kunderan was never coached. His father, a clerk for Voltas Air-conditioners, vehemently discouraged him from playing cricket. When the uncoached Kunderan was selected for his school team, his mother surreptitiously altered her husband’s clothes to design her son’s first set of cricketing whites. He went on to hit 219 on his first foray on the cricket pitch. It made very interesting reading for his father when his photo appeared in the next day’s newspaper.

3. When asked to play for India, Kunderan was 20, seeped in poverty, and didn’t have a room to himself. He lived in a chawl in the Bazaar Gate, sharing his room with six siblings, most of whom slept outside on the corridor. He lived in Bombay, which stopped him from availing accommodation provided by the Indian cricket board — local players were not put up in hotels at that time. So, in search of a quiet night with his thoughts and ambitions for the morrow, Kunderan emerged with his pillow and bed-sheet and made his way towards Bombay Gymkhana from the Victoria Terminus. A gymnasium on the way was his destination. He lay on the grass of its garden and looked at the stars above before drifting off. Mosquitos and gnats hovered and there was no air conditioner from his father’s firm, not even a fan to battle the Bombay heat. But, Kunderan slept this way for all the five nights and went on to keep wickets for 148 overs in the Test.

4. In the second innings of his debut he was promoted to No 3 and was hit wicket for three, attempting to pull Ian Meckiff. He kept wickets with the gloves borrowed from Naren Tamhane, the very man he had replaced. The cap he wore was lent by Behram Murzban, principal of the Bharda High School. The bat and pads were properties of his club, Fort Vijay.

5. In the next Test at Madras, he was pushed to open the innings. Kunderan pummelled the bowling all over the park, hitting 12 boundaries in 71 before being the third out for 111. The rest of the batting wilted in front of Alan Davidson and Richie Benaud, India scored just 149.

6. By the time he made his debut in Ranji Trophy, Kunderan had already played three Test matches — a rarity of sorts in Indian cricket. On his debut he played for Railways against Jammu and Kashmir, and hammered 205.

7. In 1963-64 against the English attack at Madras, Kunderan scored 192 — the highest score by an Indian wicketkeeper till Dhoni went past him earlier this year. The 31 boundaries in the innings was also an Indian record that stood till VVS Laxman’s 281 against Australia in 2000-01. He followed it up with another hundred in the fourth Test at Delhi and ended with 55 in the fifth at Kanpur, thus becoming the first wicketkeeper in history to pass 500 runs for a Test series. Denis Lindsay and Andy Flower are the only stumpers to have achieved this batting feat since then.

8. Engineer was the preferred wicketkeeper in the first Test at Headingley, but Kunderan ended up tumbling to make the finest catch of his life. He came across Linda, a receptionist at the team’s hotel, and in time she was to become his wife — loyal till his last day.

9. In the next Test, at Lord’s, he played as a specialist batsman and curiously had to bat at number eight in the first innings. In the second, with Dilip Sardesai injured, he opened the batting with Engineer. It must have been an odd sight with two wicketkeepers starting off the Indian reply. Kunderan was eighth out for 47 as India folded for 110.

10. In the final Test at Edgbaston, India went in with all four of the famous spin quartet. Playing Bishan Bedi, Bhagwath Chandrasekhar, Erapalli Prasanna and Srinivas Venkataraghavan meant leaving out pace bowlers. Venkataraman Subramanya was one of those who could turn his arm over at something approaching military medium. On the eve of the match, captain Nawab of Pataudi turned to Kunderan and asked him what he bowled. Kunderan’s honest answer was, “I don’t know.” Anyway, he did run in with the new ball against Geoff Boycott and Colin Milburn, ending with none for 13 from four overs. He opened the batting too, scoring a gritty 33 in the second innings.

11. Tired of being on the receiving end of ridiculous selection decisions, Kunderan negotiated a contract with Drumpellier in the Scottish League. In 1969 he married Linda and the next year emigrated to Glasgow, where he worked in the technical department of British Roadmakers. He turned out for Drumpellier in the Western Union of the Scottish League. He was the main force in ensuring that the Coatbridge side were Western Union champions in 1972, 1974 and 1978. Kunderan played for Drumpellier till 1995, when he was 56. It probably made him the longest-serving cricket professional in Scottish history.

12. While moving to Britain in 1970, Kunderan did not mince his words while describing the conditions of Indian cricket, voicing that the players were made to feel they existed at the mercy of officials. His comments were not forgotten. He later sent the Board a fulsome apology, but he was not invited to join other former Indian cricketers at the Golden Jubilee Test in 1980.

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)