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Salim Durani Was One Of A Kind ‘Prince Of Cricket’

Salim Durani, a breezy and light-hearted, would have been a perfect fit and a big draw in the IPL Twenty20 format. He was the crowd’s darling at the Brabourne Stadium, Cricket Club of India in February 1973, playing his last Test against the Tony Lewis led England side. He hit three 6s when the spectators asked for the big shot (2 in the first inning and one in the second). Willowy in built, Durani was one among the lot who shone with the bat— Farokh Engineer 121 and 66, Ajit Wadekar 87, Gundappa Viswanath 113, Sunil Gavaskar 67, and Eknath Solkar 48, all mighty by their own right. For a 16 year old like me, immersed in  all the thrill of a first Test at a famous cricketing venue, it was an awe-inspiring experience, but became curious when the lefty took strike and the “we want sixer shout” rent the air. I do not remember the off-spinner he smote the ball over the line, Pat Pocock or Jack Birkenshaw or the left hand spinner Derek Underwood, but the lanky fellow in the middle, obliged. There were too many fanboy moments, but Salim Durani gave a lovely finish to his career, making 73 in the first which I was lucky to see. He struck 14 x 6s in 29 Tests and 126 x 4s, but did not hit a six in 20 Test innings!