10 Facts about Ramakant Desai: The David who defeated Goliath

10 Facts about Ramakant Desai: The David who defeated Goliath

Ramakant Desai
Indian bowler Ramakant Bhikaji Desai (1939 – 1998), known as Tiny. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

Ramakant Desai also known as the ‘Tiny’ Desai was a versatile cricketer from India and led India’s pace attack in the 1960s. He came into the national squad just when he was 19 and reached great heights with the ball. His end was very saddening but he achieved a lot in the brief career he had. Here are few facts about this unsung personality.

1. Birth:

Ramakant Desai was born on June 20 1939, in Bombay (now Mumbai), Maharashtra, India.

2. His nickname:

He challenged the proverb ‘Size doesn’t matter’. Despite standing five feet and four inches tall, he generated a lot of pace and got the ball to swing unheard of from a man who was this short. He was affectionately called “Tiny” because of his height and led the Indian pace attack being the fastest bowler in the 60s.

3. Test debut:

He was drafted into the Indian squad for the West Indies tour of India 1958-59 and debuted in the Delhi Test and bowled 49 overs in the only West Indies innings and took 4 for 169 including John Holt, Rohan Kanhai, Collie Smith, and the great Gary Sobers.

4. A dependable tail ender:

His batting was not one to be respected but he was a dependable batsman coming down at 10. His highest score came against Pakistan at Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai, in 1960. He scored a phenomenal 86 with seven boundaries and shared a record 149-run with Nana Joshi for the ninth wicket. This is still an Indian record for the ninth wicket in Tests.

5. Incredible bowling average:

An impressive haul of 468 wickets in just 150 matches was a great feat. What was more incredible was his bowling average 24.10. For Bombay he captured 239 wickets at a phenomenal 15.61 and his ability to take wickets on flat decks was remarkable.

6. His highest first-class score:

His batting shone on the day when his side Bombay needed the most, in the final of 1962-63 Ranji Trophy against Rajasthan. He scored 107, incidentally his only first-class century and helped Bombay win the title.

7. A batsman’s nemesis:

Every batsman has an arch nemesis and the Pakistani legend Hanif Mohammad also had one, Ramakant Desai. Ramakant dismissed the great Hanif four times in nine innings they faced each other during the 1960-61 series.

8. An early retirement:

He debuted at the age of 19 and retired when he was just 29. He played his last test against New Zealand in Dunedin in 1968. He played last for Bombay in 1969 after which he quit all formats of the game. He scored a crucial 32* in the match at Dunedin continuing to bat even when his jaw was broken and India went on to win the match.

9. His role as a selector:

In 1996, BCCI appointed him as the chairman of the selectors and during his term Sachin Tendulkar was appointed and also removed from the post of captaincy. He couldn’t dedicate his complete time to his post because of his ill-health and eventually he resigned.

10. A sad end:

Just after one month after his resignation from being the chairman of selectors, on April 27, 1998, Ramakant Desai, aged 58, died in a Mumbai Hospital awaiting heart surgery.