The Bombay Ranji Trophy winnings team, 1934-35. Photo courtesy: H Natarajan. Back, from left: Raghunath Wadkar, Avi D’Avoine, Dinkar Talpade, KN Divekar. Middle, from left: Padmakar Chury, Hormasji Contractor, LP Jai (c), Vijay Merchant, Framroze Kapadia Front, from left: Dattaram Hindlekar, Dadabhoy Havewala
The Bombay Ranji Trophy winnings team, 1934-35. Photo courtesy: H Natarajan.
Back, from left: Raghunath Wadkar, Avi D’Avoine, Dinkar Talpade, KN Divekar.
Middle, from left: Padmakar Chury, Hormasji Contractor, LP Jai (c), Vijay Merchant, Framroze Kapadia
Front, from left: Dattaram Hindlekar, Dadabhoy Havewala

The Islam Gymkhana Ground, Bombay, home ground of the Islam Gymkhana team, has a long tradition of staging cricket matches, going back for over 100 years, the first recorded match at this venue being the 2-day game played between Islam Gymkhana and the touring Ceylonese team on February 19 and 20, 1906. This is the story of the 3rd recorded match at this venue: the match began on Saturday, December 2, 1933, and was spread over the weekend, being completed on the 5th. It was not, however, a First-Class match, and is recorded in the archives as match number MISC 47920, a significant milestone in the long and varied history of cricket in India.

It was the Final of the Times of India Cricket Shield of 1933-34, played between Bombay, Baroda, and Central India Railways on the one hand and St Xavier’s College, Bombay, on the other. The rival captains were GN Lalljee for the Undergraduates and SS Gore for the Railways team.

Lalljee won the toss and opted for first strike. The Undergrads put up a very creditable score of 446, Y Ismail remaining undefeated on 106. CM Thinaya scored a well-compiled 95, being unlucky to miss his own century. The scorecard is a bit hazy about exactly how many overs were bowled in the innings, but shows the main wicket-takers to be one Dadabhoy Havewala with 6 for 124 and the skipper Gore with 3 for 70.

At stumps on Day 2, Railways were 96 for 2, with CM Rana batting on 27 and Havewala on 17. It seems that, like the legendary Ol’ Man River, Havewala just kept “rollin’ along” on the morrow. The stumps score on Day 3 read 650 for 7, with Havewala on 453 and A Almeida on 3. Well, all good things must come to an end, and Havewala was dismissed on Day 4 for a small matter of 515 runs (in 554 minutes, with 56 fours and 32 sixes).

Just to put this monumental individual effort in perspective, it should be stated that the next highest scorer was Maganlal Bhagwandas with 61 in a team total of 721. For the physically and mentally devastated Undergrads, the duo of VA Shete and RM Lokhande captured 3 and 2 wickets respectively.

The suitably chastened College team were shot out for 128 in their 2nd knock, the highest scorer being the opener M Ellum with 21. Havewala, that man again, took 5 for 26 and CM Rana captured 3 wickets. The unfortunate undergraduates were vanquished by an innings and 147 runs, having been witness to the extraordinary feat of Havewala becoming the first Indian to score in excess of 500 runs in a single innings in any grade of senior cricket, then rubbing salt into the wounded pride of the youngsters by picking up 11 wickets in the match for 150 runs. Havewala was just about 25 at this point of time and had not yet played any First-Class cricket.

His player profile reveals the information that Dadabhoy Rustomji Havewala, one of the early Parsee cricketers who have enriched the history of Indian cricket to such an extent, was born on November 27, 1908 at Nargol, Gujarat. He was a left-handed batsman and bowled both left-arm slow-medium and left-arm finger-spin. In a First-Class span of 1934-35 to 1941-42, Havewala played 31 matches, scoring 1,293 runs with a highest of 106 and an average of 26.93. He scored 2 centuries and 8 fifties, and also grabbed 12 catches. He also took 51 wickets. His best bowling performance was 4 for 46.

Havewala made his First-Class debut with Bombay against Maharashtra at the Deccan Gymkhana Ground, Poona in September 1934. There was no play on Day 1 due to weather conditions.

Maharashtra, under DB Deodhar, won the toss and put the opposition in. Bombay scored 283 in the 1st innings, captain LP Jai being run out for 100. KM Mahadevan, playing his only First-Class match, picked up 5 for 61 — a relatively rare occasion of a player picking up 5 wickets in an innings in the only match played. Balkrishna Mohoni, another debutant, took 3 for 31. Debutant Havewala scored only 12. The match petered out as a draw with Maharashtra scoring 174 for 6 when time ran out, captain Deodhar top-scoring with 49 not out. Havewala took 3 for 34 in the incomplete innings. His fame from scoring the 500+ innings almost a year ago may have preceded Havewala, but his batting performance in this, his debut First-Class match, may not have satisfied his expectations from himself.

Havewala gradually grew in confidence and soon had a couple of good 60s. In the Ranji Trophy match against Gujarat at Ahmedabad in February 1935, he top-scored with 68 in the 1st innings (out of 231); he again top-scored against Maharashtra in the Bombay 2nd innings with 60 (out of 172 for 7 declared) in the Ranji Trophy clash at Poona, at a later date in February 1935.

Havewala’s first brush against a foreign team passed off relatively well. At the Bombay Gymkhana Ground in November 1935 against the visiting Australian team led by Jack Ryder, replying to a 1st-innings total of 468 for 8 from the visitors with centuries from Wendell Bill (107) and Francis Bryant (155), the Bombay 1st innings was a rather subdued effort of 241. Havewala top scored with 71 and captain LP Jai made 59. Following on, Bombay could only score 171 for 7 in the time remaining, Jai hitting 115.

It was in his 13th match that Havewala scored his maiden First-Class century. It was the historic Ranji Trophy match between Bombay and Western India, played at Poona in December 1935, a match made famous by SM Kadri (106 and 114) becoming the first Indian to score centuries in both innings of a Ranji Trophy game. Havewala also did his bit with 12 and 103, passing the milestone of 500 First-Class runs in the process. He added another feather to his cap by achieving his best First-Class bowling figures in this game, 4 for 46 in the Western India 1st innings of 181.

The Bombay versus Nawanagar Ranji Trophy match at Poona in January 1937 saw a mature exhibition of batting from our hero, with scores of 52 (top score in 174) and 41 (second-highest score after 114 not out by Vijay Merchant, in a team score of 277 for 6). The match was drawn, Nawanagar being awarded the match on a 1st-innings lead of 89 runs. There were several personal landmarks in this match: 4,000 First-Class runs by Merchant, 1,000 First-Class runs by Dattaram Hindlekar, and 50 Ranji Trophy wickets by Amar Singh for Western India.

In the Ranji Trophy game against Western India at Jamnagar in November 1937, Bombay’s 1st-innings total was 250. Captain Jai was once again in the forefront of the scoring with 58, the other notable effort being the 42 by Havewala. Merchant made 29 at the top of the order.

Western India were bundled out for 153 in response, Raghunath Wadkar taking his best-ever haul of 9 for 38. The Bombay 2nd innings of 217 was built around a fine 77 not out by Havewala and 53 by Merchant. Although the Western India 2nd innings was a decent 279, it was not enough to stave off defeat by 35 runs. For Bombay, Merchant did the star turn with the ball as well with 5 for 73, his first 5-wicket haul in Ranji Trophy cricket.

In the first of his 3 matches for the Maharaja of Patiala’s XI against the visiting Lord Tennyson’s XI at Patiala in January 1938, Havewala scored a disappointing duck in the Maharaja’s 1st innings of 142. Only Amir Elahi, batting at No. 10, with 43 not out, gave a fair account of himself. Arthur Wellard, the Somerset stalwart, opening bowling, captured 6 for 46 to wreck the innings.

Lord Tennyson’s XI amassed 445 for 9, with strong hands from Wellard (78, crossing the landmark of 8,500 First-Class runs) and James Langridge (of Sussex, 77). Jim Parks, the Sussex batsman, scored 64 at the top of the order.

In a drawn match, the Maharaja’s XI scored 264 for 5 in the allotted time, Lala Amarnath remaining not out on 109 and Havewala achieving his second (and last) century, and highest individual score of 106. The Maharaja of Patiala bowed out of First-Class cricket with this match and for one DJ Engineer, this was the only First-Class fixture.

Havewala played his next match against Lord Tennyson’s XI as part of the India team in a match at Chepauk in February 1938. In the India 1st innings of 263, Vinoo Mankad showed his class with 113 not out, Havewala being the second-highest scorer with 44. For the visitors, George Pope, the Derbyshire fast-medium bowler, took 5 for 51.

Lord Tennyson’s XI were demolished for 94, the only double-digit scorers being the Nottinghamshire batsman Joe Hardstaff (29) and Langridge (23 not out). Amar Singh (5 for 38) and Mankad (3 for 18) did the damage for the hosts.

Following on, the visitors were again dismissed for a low score — 163. Wellard was the only notable scorer with 40. It was Amar Singh (6 for 58), with 11 wickets in the match, who was mainly instrumental in the collapse. Mankad completed a commendable all-round performance with 3 for 55. India won by an innings and 6 runs, a great boost to the ego and a great encouragement for the future.

With his 5th wicket of the India innings, Pope had 50 First-Class wicket for the season. Mankad and Havewala both completed 1,000 First-Class runs. Shute Banerjee completed his tally of 100 wickets and Amar Singh achieved 450 First-Class wickets in this match.

Lord Tennyson’s XI restored their lost pride somewhat in the next match against India at Bombay later that month, defeating the home team by 156 runs. The 1st innings of both sides were comparative, the visitors scoring 130 (Amar Singh 5 for 35), and the home team replying with 131 (Pope 5 for 49 and Wellard 4 for 59).

The visitors, however, pulled ahead in the 2nd innings, scoring 288, with Derbyshire batsman Thomas Worthington scoring a solid 68 and Bill Edrich of Middlesex making 56. Amar Singh (4 for 95) and Mankad (3 for 49) were the best bowlers for India.

India, however, equalled their 1st-innings score of 131 the second time round also, the only sizeable contribution being the 57 from Mankad. Wellard (5 for 58) and Pope (3 for 28) were the tormentors again. Havewala’s part in all this was 2 and 8 retired hurt. For Tennyson, the legendary Hampshire peer, this was to be his 477th and last First-Class match.

For Bombay against Baroda in the Ranji Trophy tie in October 1938, Havewala scored 64 in a total of 441 for 6, Merchant remaining not out on 143 (his 100 coming in 313 minutes) and Manohar Naik, a debutant, contributing 68. Bombay batted only once in this match, as did Baroda, scoring 326, Raosaheb Nimbalkar scoring 119 (in 150 minutes, his maiden Ranji Trophy century). Havewala took 2 for 28.

The drawn Ranji Trophy match against Sind was again, another one-innings affair at Karachi in November 1938. Bombay made 366 in their only innings, with Merchant (120) scoring another century. Other significant contributions came from captain Jai (67) and Havewala (56). The unfinished Sind innings realised 370 for 7, with Naoomal Jaoomal (149 in 300 minutes) being the main scorer. Havewala took 1/64.

He did not shine with bat for Parsees against Europeans in the Bombay Pentangular of 1938-39, scoring 0 and 9. However, he did pick up 4 for 52 in the 1st innings and, opening bowling, 2 for 126 as SM Palsetia picked up 7/109.

In his 25th match, this time playing for Cricket Club of India against Central Provinces and Berar, at Nagpur in January 1939, Havewala scored 52 (out of 292) and 39 (top score in 111). He also picked up 2 for 22 in the 2nd innings.

Havewala’s performances began to fall away after this and he played his last First-Class game in the Ranji Trophy match against Sind in December 1941, another one-innings game, scoring only 2 in the Bombay innings of 405. Vijay Merchant scored an unbeaten 153 (in 304 minutes, with 18 fours).

The other hero of the match was Gogumal Kishenchand (off whose leg-spin bowling the great Don Bradman had taken the single that took him to his 100th), who scored 131 (in 340 minutes, with 8 fours) in the Sind innings of 326.

Apart from First-Class matches, Havewala played 4 Second-Class games between 1932-33 and 1937-38, including the encounter with which this narration begins. In December 1932, barely 24 years of age, he scored 79 in a match against the visiting Ceylon side. His next was the epic 515-run effort. He followed up with 0 and 18 for JD Antia’s Bombay XI against Patiala in December 1934. His last match produced 11 and 0 for DB Deodhar’s XI against CK Nayudu’s XI at Bombay in December 1937 in a 12-a-side match. He picked up 3 wickets in this match.

Returning to the issue with which this narrative had begun, let us review the individual scores of 500+ till date in chronological order. The list looks something like this:

– 628 not out (1899): Arthur Collins for Clark’s House Junior against North Town Juniors, played over 5 days; a school game

– 566 (1901-02): Charles Eady for Break o’ Day against Wellington in a timeless match; a senior game

– 506 not out (1914-15): James Sharp for Melbourne Grammar School against Geelong College; a junior match

– 515 (1934-35): Dadabhoy Havewala for Bombay, Baroda, and Central India Railways against St Xavier’s College, Mumbai; a senior game

– 501 not out (1994): Brian Lara for Warwickshire against Durham; a County Championship match

– 546 (2013-14): Prithvi Shaw for Rizvi Springfield High School, Mumbai against St Francis D’Assisi School, Borivali; a School game

– 1009 not out (2015-16): Pranav Dhanawade for Shrimati Kantaben Chandulal Gandhi English School, Kalyan against Arya Gurukul Central Board of Secondary Education School, Kalyan; a school game

It is clear from the above that of the 7 instances of a batsman scoring in excess of 500 individual runs in an innings in all grades of cricket till date, only 3 have come in senior cricket.

Eady, with 566, is not only the first, but has the highest tally of all. Havewala, the first Indian, is second on the list, both chronologically and by weight of runs. Lara, the only one to achieve this feat in First-Class cricket, brings up the rear. In the light of all this, let us cherish the memory of an Indian who has carved a significant niche for himself (and his country) in such an illustrious list.

Havewala passed away on July 21, 1982 at Mumbai, aged about 74 years, leaving behind a wonderful legacy of high scoring as an example and incentive for others to follow.

(Pradip Dhole is a retired medical doctor with a life-long interest in cricket history and statistics)