The Key to Sussex?

Shortly after news of (the former Nawab of) Pataudi’s death, a friend of mine sent me the following one-line email:

“Who was the other cricketer with one eye?……..Ranjitsinhji.”

I thought this didn’t make any sense. I had read somewhere long ago how Ranji’s cousin Duleepsinhji, on first going to England, was told by some doctor that he had a problem with his eyesight. His house master dismissed any such notion saying that no relative of Ranji could possibly have anything wrong with his eyes. Besides, I reasoned, it’s one of those things you expect would be common knowledge if true.

Then it occurred to me my friend might be joking. He was talking, no doubt, about Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who did indeed have only one eye! One of the Yehudi-Menuhin-is-a-violinist. Mahatma-Gandhi-is-a…non-violinist variety, it seemed.

After dashing off a clever note to my friend saying I wasn’t aware that Maharaja Ranjit Singh played cricket, something impelled me to read up on Ranji just to be sure. On Wikipedia at first glance, there was lots about his time in England, his cricket of course, and his disputes over the title to his principality of Nawanagar. There was no prominent mention of any business of making do with one eye, etc. 

As I read through the Wikipedia page, though, I found the following passage deep in its bowels:

“When the First World War began in August 1914, Ranjitsinhji declared that the resources of his state were available to Britain, including a house that he owned at Staines which was converted into a hospital. In November 1914, he left to serve at the Western Front, leaving Berthon as administrator.[note 9][209] Ranjitsinhji was made an honorary major in the British Army, but as any serving Indian princes were not allowed near the fighting by the British because of the risk involved, he did not see active service. Ranjitsinhji went to France but the cold weather badly affected his health and he returned to England several times.[210]

On 31 August 1915, he took part in a grouse shooting party on the Yorkshire Moors near Langdale End. While on foot, he was accidentally shot in the right eye by another member of the party. After travelling to Leeds via the railway at Scarborough, a specialist removed the badly damaged eye on 2 August.”

Don’t ask me how an eye damaged on 31 August needed removing on 2 August. I’m merely quoting Wikipedia verbatim.

This was long after his prime cricketing years. He had played his last test match in 1908, and seems to have last played serious county cricket in 1912. He played for Sussex, even captaining it briefly (as did Pataudi).

For all that it is my friend who will have the last laugh. Wikipedia again:

“Ranjitsinhji’s last first-class cricket came in 1920; having lost an eye in a hunting accident, he played only three matches and found he could not focus on the ball properly. Possibly prompted by embarrassment at his performance, he later claimed his sole motivation for returning was to write a book about batting with one eye; such a book was never published.[166]”

Was there any famous cricketer (other than Pataudi) from India who played with a visual impairment? Well, you can bet your right eye on it.

Niranjan Ramakrishnan is a writer living in the USA. He can be reached at njn_2003@yahoo.com.

More articles by:

/>Niranjan Ramakrishnan is a writer living on the West Coast.  His book, “Reading Gandhi In the Twenty-First Century” was published last year by Palgrave.  He may be reached at njn_2003@yahoo.com.

March 22, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Italy, Germany and the EU’s Future
David Rosen
The Further Adventures of the President and the Porn Star
Gary Leupp
Trump, the Crown Prince and the Whole Ugly Big Picture
The Hudson Report
Modern-Day Debtors’ Prisons and Debt in Antiquity
Steve Martinot
The Properties of Property
Binoy Kampmark
Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and Surveillance Capitalism
Jeff Berg
Russian to Judgment
Gregory Barrett
POSSESSED! Europe’s American Demon Must Be Exorcised
Robby Sherwin
What Do We Do About Facebook?
Sam Husseini
Trump Spokesperson Commemorates Invading Iraq by Claiming U.S. Doesn’t Dictate to Other Countries; State Dept. Defends Invasion
Rob Okun
Students: Time is Ripe to Add Gender to Gun Debate
Michael Barker
Tory Profiteering in Russia and Putin’s Debt of Gratitude
March 21, 2018
Paul Street
Time is Running Out: Who Will Protect Our Wrecked Democracy from the American Oligarchy?
Mel Goodman
The Great Myth of the So-Called “Adults in the Room”
Chris Floyd
Stumbling Blocks: Tim Kaine and the Bipartisan Abettors of Atrocity
Eric Draitser
The Political Repression of the Radical Left in Crimea
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan Threatens Wider War Against the Kurds
John Steppling
It is Us
Thomas Knapp
Death Penalty for Drug Dealers? Be Careful What You Wish for, President Trump
Manuel García, Jr.
Why I Am a Leftist (Vietnam War)
Isaac Christiansen
A Left Critique of Russiagate
Howard Gregory
The Unemployment Rate is an Inadequate Reporter of U.S. Economic Health
Ramzy Baroud
Who Wants to Kill Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah?
Roy Morrison
Trouble Ahead: The Trump Administration at Home and Abroad
Roger Hayden
Too Many Dead Grizzlies
George Wuerthner
The Lessons of the Battle to Save the Ancient Forests of French Pete
Binoy Kampmark
Fictional Free Trade and Permanent Protectionism: Donald Trump’s Economic Orthodoxy
Rivera Sun
Think Outside the Protest Box
March 20, 2018
Jonathan Cook
US Smooths Israel’s Path to Annexing West Bank
Jeffrey St. Clair
How They Sold the Iraq War
Chris Busby
Cancer, George Monbiot and Nuclear Weapons Test Fallout
Nick Alexandrov
Washington’s Invasion of Iraq at Fifteen
David Mattson
Wyoming Plans to Slaughter Grizzly Bears
Paul Edwards
My Lai and the Bad Apples Scam
Julian Vigo
The Privatization of Water and the Impoverishment of the Global South
Mir Alikhan
Trump and Pompeo on Three Issues: Paris, Iran and North Korea
Seiji Yamada
Preparing For Nuclear War is Useless
Gary Leupp
Brennan, Venality and Turpitude
Martha Rosenberg
Why There’s a Boycott of Ben & Jerry’s on World Water Day, March 22
John Pilger
Skripal Case: a Carefully-Constructed Drama?
March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us