I was delighted to receive yesterday, the following comment on my blog from Shri Ashokkumar A. Adhikari, now 75 years old:
“Quite impressed with the given history of Rajpipla. I am proud to be brought up in Rajpipla. My grandfather Ramchandra Adhikari was private secretary to late Shri Chhatrasinhji Maharaj, and later on for a few years that of late Shri Vijaysinhji Maharaj. He was very well respected by the entire royal family, including Shri Chhatrasinhji Maharaj, his sons Champaksinhji, Kishoresinhji and Natwarsinhji, besides Maharaja Vijaysinhji. He was called ‘Raosaheb’. He was often consulted not only on personal and family matters, but also on state matters. My father Anandrao was born in Rajpipla, and served the State till it was merged. We three brothers and a sister grew up in Rajpipla, and studied in the High School. My uncle Indian cricketer late Hemu Adhikari was also from Rajpipla. This history made me nostalgic. Many, many thanks for such wonderful and interesting information, rather history, of my native place.”
Incidentally, Rao Saheb Ramachandra Adhikari was part of the Rajpipla State entourage in the Dilli Durbar 1911, led by my great-grandfather Maharana Chhatrasinhji and also included, among others, my grandfather Yuvraj (later Maharaja) Vijaysinhji.
The above comment from Shri Ashok Adhikari set me thinking about his uncle Shri Hemu Adhikari. Young Hemu Adhikari spent some of his childhood years in Rajpipla. He studied in the Rajpipla State High School built by my grandfather Maharaja Vijaysinhji. The school was handed over to the government at the time of merger of Rajpipla State with the Union of India in 1948, and is now known as the Government High School.
A lot of cricket was played on the Dhaba ground in Rajpipla. Shri Hemu Adhikari would have played his early cricket at this ground in the 1920s and 1930s before he joined the army. Colonel Hemchandra Ramchandra Adhikari, or simply Hemu Adhikari, was a right-hand batsman and brilliant fielder, occasionally bowling his leg-spin.
He played 21 Test matches for India, beginning with the tour to Australia under Lala Amarnath against Bradman’s all-conquering team in 1947-48. Not only was his debut delayed due to the Second World War, his duties in the army restricted his appearances for the country as a total of 47 Test matches were played during his career span. He led India in his final Test against the West Indies at New Delhi in 1958-59. He scored 872 runs in Test cricket at an average of 31.14, with a hundred and 4 fifties, and a highest score of 114 not out. In 152 first-class matches from 1936-37 to 1959-60, Hemu Adhikari aggregated 8,683 runs, averaging 41.74, hitting up 17 centuries and 45 half-centuries, with a top score of an unbeaten 230, and held 97 catches.
Hemu Adhikari became famous later as manager of the victorious Indian team led by Ajit Wadekar to the West Indies and England in 1971. Those were the tours that saw the emergence of the legendary Sunil Gavaskar. He was national coach and was instrumental in shaping many a successful international career.