Last year Oxford (how wonderfully Spire-Centric that will sound by the time you get to the end of this sentence…) lost a sporting legend following the death of The Nawab of Pataudi, former cricket Blue, and Captain of India.
Nicknamed Tiger Pataudi, Mansoor Ali Khan was the ninth Nawab of Pataudi until 1971, when India abolished royal entitlements through the 26th Amendment. He played over 300 First Class games, and 46 tests, top scoring 203 not, played 137 first class matches for Sussex County Cricket Club scoring 3,054 runs at an average of 22.29, and captained Sussex in 1966. In India, he played first-class cricket for Delhi in the North Zone until 1966, and then for Hyderabad in the South Zone. He was Wisden Cricketer of the year in 1968.
His life was always a privileged one… if only one tinged with sadness; His father died while playing polo in Delhi on Mansoor’s eleventh birthday in 1952, whereupon Mansoor succeeded as the ninth Nawab. He was classically educated at A.M.U Minto Circle School in Aligarh, Lockers Park Prep School in Hertfordshire, Winchester College, and finally read Arabic and French at Balliol College. Obviously.
He was a remarkable cricketer, as he literally saw double… he was a passenger in a car which was involved in an accident, and a shard of glass from the broken windscreen penetrated and permanently damaged his right eye. The damage caused Pataudi to see a doubled image. It was feared this would end his cricketing career, but Pataudi was soon in the nets learning to play with one eye!
His memorial lecture in Calcutta was given by the no lesser august cricketing demigod, Imran Khan. He tells the Tiger’s tale of overcoming great odds to captain a great cricketing nation, and about the power of sport and education, as well as his time in Oxford. Its an interesting watch.