Indian Test cricket and Ranji Trophy: Trivia. Designer: Ranjeet Parab.
Trivia related to Indian Test cricket and Ranji Trophy.
Designer: Ranjeet Parab

Which Ranji Trophy team has given India the most players? Who comes next? How many Ranji Trophy teams have produced Test players? Has there ever been an occasion where all players in a side were from different states? Has India ever fielded a side without anyone from either Bombay (Mumbai) or Karnataka (Mysore)? How many Ranji Trophy teams has a player represented while playing Tests for India? B Sreeram and Abhishek Mukherjee answer these, and several other questions.

Ranji Trophy is the stepping stone to Test cricket, they say. Indeed, there have been a limited few who have donned India whites without that initial stepping stone. For some, the Ranji cap is almost as coveted as the ultimate goal. Some, like BB Nimbalkar, Padmakar Shivalkar, Rajinder Goel, and Sadanand Mohol, could never make it to Test level. Some others, on the other hand, like Budhi Kunderan and Parthiv Patel (not to speak of men who played Test cricket before Ranji Trophy was initiated), made their Ranji Trophy debuts after playing their first Tests.

Before we venture into trivia related to Ranji Trophy teams and Indian Test sides, let us write out our assumptions. Please take out time to go through them.

Assumption 1: If someone has played a Test before making his Ranji Trophy debut, the person is assigned his first Ranji side after that Test.

Example: CK Nayudu made his Test debut in 1932. Ranji Trophy came into being in 1934-35. When Nayudu eventually played his first Ranji Trophy match, he did so for Central India. Hence, Nayudu has been assigned Central India for his first four Tests (one Test in 1932, three in 1933-34).

Kunderan made his Ranji Trophy debut for Railways, so he is classified as a Railways cricketer for the Tests he played before his Ranji Trophy debut.

Assumption 2: If someone has played for multiple Ranji Trophy sides, then for every season, his last Ranji team is considered.

Example: When Vijay Manjrekar made his Test debut in 1951-52, he was playing for Bombay (currently Mumbai). However, by the time he played against Pakistan in 1954-55, he had moved to Bengal. Once again, when he played New Zealand in 1955-56, he was a Bombay player. His 1956-57 appearances are registered under Andhra. From 1958-59 he became a Rajasthan player. He has, thus, been classified under Bombay, Bengal, Bombay (again), Andhra, and Rajasthan.

Though Manjrekar had already made a move to Andhra by 1956-57, he played his first Ranji match for them after he had played three Tests that season. We have classified them as Andhra. In other words, we have gone by seasons.

Now that we have laid down the assumptions, let the list begin.

1. The first Indian team, Lord’s, 1932

 Since we have now assigned every Test cricketer (including those from the pre-Ranji Trophy era) a Ranji Trophy team, let us start with India’s first Test team. The side consisted of three players from Central India (CK Nayudu, Janardan Navle, Wazir Ali), three from Southern Punjab (M, Nazir Ali, Lall Singh), and one from each of Bombay (Sorabji Colah), United Provinces (Phiroze Palia), Sind (Naoomal Jaoomal), Northern India (Jahangir Khan), and Western India (Amar Singh).

2. A total of 34 teams represented

 The Test marked represented five Ranji Trophy teams. In all, 34 teams Ranji Trophy teams have been represented at the highest level. The classification of teams was tricky: Bengal and Delhi have retained their old names; Bombay made a smooth transition to Mumbai and Mysore to Karnataka; Punjab, Southern Punjab, Northern Punjab, and East Punjab have, on the other hand, been separate teams.

There is also the curious case of Western India, certainly not the best-defined in terms of boundaries. An example will make this clear: Bombay, Baroda, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Sind, and Nawanagar all played in Ranji Trophy 1943-44, but so did Western India. The season also included all three of Central Provinces and Berar, Holkar, and Gwalior. Go figure.

3. Most Ranji Trophy teams represented in a Test

India’s sixth-ever Test (the Old Trafford Test of 1936) saw players from 9 different Ranji Trophy teams. Astonishingly, though this record was equalled, it was not broken till the Port-of-Spain Test of 2002.

The teams were Karnataka (Rahul Dravid and Javagal Srinath), Mumbai (Sachin Tendulkar), Hyderabad (VVS Laxman), Bengal (Sourav Ganguly), Punjab (Harbhajan Singh), Railways (Sanjay Bangar), Orissa (SS Das), Railways (Sanjay Bangar), Baroda (Zaheer Khan), Ashish Nehra (Delhi), and Haryana (Ajay Ratra).

Surprisingly, the record has been equalled thrice after the Test — against New Zealand (Hamilton, 2002-03); against South Africa (Ahmedabad, 2007-08); and against Australia (Bengaluru, 2010-11).

4. Least Ranji Trophy teams represented in a Test

The second Test India played (at Bombay, 1933-34) saw representatives from only 4 states — Bombay (4), Central India (3), Southern Punjab (2), and Western India (2). There were several other occasions of 4 till Christchurch 1975-76, when India was represented by only 3 states — Karnataka (EAS Prasanna, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, Gundappa Viswanath, Brijesh Patel, Syed Kirmani), Delhi (Bishan Bedi, Madan Lal, Mohinder and Surinder Amarnath), and Bombay (Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar).

India went into the next Test with an unchanged side. They have been represented by 3 states six times, all of them between 1975-76 and 1977-78. On all 6 occasions the teams have been Bombay, Karnataka, and Delhi.

5. Most players in a Test from a single Ranji Trophy side

Going by intuition, it is Bombay (Mumbai), and it indeed is. At Lord’s, in 1952, Bombay were represented by Vijay Manjrekar, Vinoo Mankad, Madhav Mantri, Dattu Phadkar, Gulabrai Ramchand, Sadu Shinde, and Polly Umrigar, setting a new record of 7 that still stands. The other members of the side were Vijay Hazare (Baroda), Pankaj Roy (Bengal), Hemu Adhikari (Services), and Ghulam Ahmed (Hyderabad).

6. The best after Bombay (Mumbai)

Bombay (Mumbai) have, of course, the dominating side in Indian cricket. However, their record of 7 representatives in a Test side was almost equalled by Karnataka, who had 6 men against New Zealand at Mohali, 1999-00: Anil Kumble, Dravid, Srinath, Venkatesh Prasad, Sunil Joshi, and Vijay Bharadwaj.

Central India had 4 representatives each, both in Tests in the pre-Ranji Trophy era — in the Calcutta and Madras Tests of 1933-34. The men involved were CK and CS Nayudu, Dilawar Hussain, Mushtaq Ali, and Wazir Ali. Hyderabad, Baroda, Delhi, and Bengal, with 4 each, come next.

Note:

The case of Bengal is a curious one. Thrice in Indian cricket have 4 Bengal cricketers played for India, but on every occasion 3 of them have been ‘expatriates’ — Subhash Gupte, Phadkar, and Vijay Manjrekar. Roy was then only bona-fide Bengal player. All three Tests came on the Pakistan tour of 1954-55, at Dacca, Peshawar, and Karachi.

7. Never more than one

On the flip side, 8 teams — Andhra, Kerala, Vidarbha, Orissa (Odisha), Sind, East Punjab, Northern Punjab, and Kathiawar — never had more than one representative. This assumes that Nawanagar became Saurashtra, Holkar became Madhya Pradesh, and Bihar became Jharkhand.

Notes:

- Andhra’s first representative was Vijay Manjrekar, once again an ‘expat’. Their only local cricketer has been MSK Prasad.
- Gogumal Kishenchand is the only cricketer to play Test cricket while playing for Kathiawar.
- Bedi is the only cricketer to play Test cricket while playing for Northern Punjab — till Punjab became one team.
- Vijay Mehra is the only cricketer to play Test cricket while playing for East Punjab.

8. First to play for each side

First player(s)

First player(s) after 1935-36

Name

Season

Name

Season

Bombay (Mumbai)

Sorabji Colah

1932

Vijay Merchant, Dattaram Hindlekar

1936

Western India

Amar Singh

1932

Khershed Meherhomji

1936

Northern India

Jahangir Khan

1932

Jahangir Khan

1936

Southern Punjab

Mohammad Nissar, Nazir Ali, Lall Singh

1932

Mohammad Nissar

1936

Sind

Naoomal Jaoomal

1932

Jenni Irani

1947-48

Central India

CK Nayudu, Janardan Navle, Wazir Ali

1932

CK Nayudu, CS Nayudu, Mushtaq Ali, Wazir Ali

1936

United Provinces (Uttar Pradesh)

Phiroze Palia

1932

Vizzy, Phiroze Palia

1936

Madras (Tamil Nadu)

MJ Gopalan

1933-34

Cotar Ramaswami

1936

Nawanagar (Saurashtra)

Amar Singh

1936

Baroda

Vijay Hazare, Gul Mohammad

1946

Gujarat

Vinoo Mankad

1946

Maharashtra

Sadu Shinde

1946

Holkar (Madhya Pradesh)

CS Nayudu

1946

Bengal

Probir Sen

1947-48

Kathiawar

Gogumal Kishenchand

1947-48

Hyderabad

Ghulam Ahmed

1948-49

Bihar (Jharkhand)

Shute Banerjee

1948-49

Army (Services)

Hemu Adhikari

1951-52

Delhi

Prakash Bhandari

1954-55

East Punjab

Vijay Mehra

1955-56

Andhra

Vijay Manjrekar

1956-57

Rajputana (Rajasthan)

Vinoo Mankad, Gulabrai Ramchand

1956-57

Railways

Nari Contractor

1958-59

Mysore (Karnataka)

EAS Prasanna

1961-62

Northern Punjab

Bishan Bedi

1966-67

Punjab

Mohinder Amarnath

1969-70

Haryana

Kapil Dev

1978-79

Orissa (Odisha)

Debasis Mohanty

1997

Kerala

Tinu Yohannan

2001-02

Vidarbha

Umesh Yadav

2011-12

Note: While Prasanna was the first to play for Mysore, two natives (Budhi Kunderan, born in Mulki, and Venkatappa Muddiah, born in Bangalore) had played Tests before him. At that point of time Kunderan was playing for Railways and Muddiah for Services. Both men also played for Mysore.

8. Last to play for each side

Last player(s)

Name

Season

Bombay (Mumbai)

Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma

2015-16

Western India

Khershed Meherhomji

1936

Northern India

Abdul Hafeez Kardar

1946

Southern Punjab

Lala Amarnath

1951-52

Sind

Jenni Irani

1947-48

Central India

CK Nayudu, Dilawar Hussain, Mushtaq Ali, Wazir Ali

1936

United Provinces (Uttar Pradesh)

Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Suresh Raina

2013-14

Madras (Tamil Nadu)

Murali Vijay, Ravichandran Ashwin

2015-16

Nawanagar (Saurashtra)

Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravindra Jadeja

2015-16

Baroda

Munaf Patel

2011

Gujarat

Parthiv Patel

2008

Maharashtra

Munaf Patel

2007-08

Holkar (Madhya Pradesh)

Naman Ojha

2015

Bengal

Wriddhiman Saha

2015-16

Kathiawar

Gogumal Kishenchand

1947-48

Hyderabad

Pragyan Ojha

2013-14

Bihar (Jharkhand)

Varun Aaron

2015-16

Army (Services)

Raman Surendranath

1960-61

Delhi

Virat Kohli, Ishant Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan

2015-16

East Punjab

Vijay Mehra

1955-56

Andhra

MSK Prasad

1999-00

Rajputana (Rajasthan)

Pankaj Singh

2014

Railways

Karn Sharma

2014-15

Mysore (Karnataka)

Stuart Binny

2015-16

Northern Punjab

Bishan Bedi

1966-67

Punjab

Harbhajan Singh

2015

Haryana

Amit Mishra

2015-16

Orissa (Odisha)

SS Das

2002

Kerala

S Sreesanth

2011

Vidarbha

Umesh Yadav

2015-16

 10. Indian XIs without a Bombay (Mumbai) player

Bombay (Mumbai) have accounted for 64 Test cricketers. Nobody has managed even half of that. The next teams on the list, Delhi and Madras (Tamil Nadu) have 57 between them, put together.

How many times have India taken field without a single Bombay (Mumbai) player, since inception of Ranji Trophy or otherwise?

The first time this happened was in the Eden Gardens Test against West Indies in 1966-67, when India fielded The Nawab of Pataudi Jr, Budhi Kunderan, ML Jaisimha, Rusi Surti, Abbas Ali Baig, Chandu Borde, Hanumant Singh, Venkataraman Subramanya, Bishan Bedi, Srinivas Venkataraghavan, and Bhagwat Chandrasekhar.

Since then this has happened seven more times: twice against Australia at home, 2004-05; twice in Zimbabwe, 2005; and thrice in West Indies, 2011.

Note: India have never fielded a Test side where all members were from outside both Bombay (Mumbai) and Mysore (Karnataka).

11. Current teams without a single international player in their history

Indeed, there still remain some sides that are yet to get off the mark — Assam, Tripura, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu & Kashmir. While Rishi Dhawan (of Himachal Pradesh) and Parvez Rasool (of Jammu & Kashmir) have represented India in the shorter formats, the other states are yet to find representation at international level.

Of course, there have been cricketers who have represented Assam, Tripura, and Goa after they played their last Tests.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Chief Editor at CricketCountry and CricLife. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here.)

 (B Sreeram is a keen follower of domestic cricket.)