K.S. Duleepsinhji followed the footsteps of his uncle, the great K.S. Ranjitsinhji, Jam Sahib of Nawanagar, scoring a century on first appearance against Australia for England in 1930. That was the series in which Don Bradman scored 974 runs, a record that stands to this day.
Young Duleep would often visit the estate of Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla, ‘The Manor’ at Old Windsor in England. It was no surprise, then, that the marriage of Duleepsinhji was fixed with Princess Jayraj Kunverba, a cousin of the Maharaja of Rajpipla. Princess Jayraj Kunverba was daughter of Prince Kirtisinhji, son of Maharana Gambhirsinhji of Rajpipla. The wedding was solemnized on 3rd May 1936 at the sea-facing Rajpipla House, known as ‘Palm Beach’ on Nepeansea Road, Bombay. Thus was joined the princely house famous for cricket with another well known for horse racing and polo.
The brilliant cricket career of Duleepsinhji was cut short by illness. In a Test career spanning a little more than two years, he played 12 Test matches for England, averaging 58.52 for his 995 runs, with three hundreds and a highest score of 173. This was just before India made its entry into Test cricket. In his nine seasons of First-class cricket, Duleepsinhji hit up 15,485 runs at an average of 49.95, with 50 centuries and a top score of 333. Along the way he captained Sussex. He was also a brilliant slip fielder. By the age of 27, his cricketing journey was over in 1932.
Having enlisted in the army, Duleepsinhji served in the Second World War. After independence of his country, he joined the Indian Foreign Service and was appointed High Commissioner to Australia and New Zealand. He later headed the Public Service Commission of Saurashtra.
The premier cricket tournaments in India, the Ranji Trophy and the Duleep Trophy, stand testimony till date to the brilliance of the pioneers who showed the way for the development of the game in the country.