In the last two months Raj Singh Dungarpur couldn’t talk. Alzheimers’ disease, diabetes and ill-health had taken its toll on the gangly frame of the former medium-pacer and cricket aficionado.
Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, his nephew didn’t know what to do to make his uncle talk again. So a couple of days ago Shivendra held up a photo of Don Bradman and pointed to the picture and whispered: “Don”. Raj Singh immediately responded.
“Not Don, Donald George Bradman”. Those were the last words of the 74-year-old who passed away at around 11.30 am at Sukhada, the apartment complex in Worli.
“You could never take the game out of him. Till his dying day he was passionate about cricket,” Shivendra said. Over the past two years Dungarpur was being looked after by his niece Tanvi and her husband Rajeev Mehta. Dungarpur’s elder brothers Jaisinghji and Mahipalsinghji are based in Rajasthan.
Farokh Engineer, the former India wicketkeeper, one of the first to call on the family, believed that though Indian cricket was always full of politics and Raj Singh was someone who tried to stay above it all. “He was truly an international figure,” Engineer said.
Ratnakar Shetty, the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s chief administrative officer, said: “Two of his outstanding contributions to Indian cricket was the selection of Tendulkar for the 1989 tour of Pakistan and the establishment of the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore.”
Dungarpur was the manager of the Indian team that toured England in 1982 and 1986 and was the manager of the squad that toured Pakistan in 1984-85 and 2005-06. He headed the National selection committee in 1988-89 and 1989-1990. He also served as the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India from 1996-97 to 1998-99.
While Australia was playing West Indies in the final of the 2006 Champions Trophy at the CCI, Raj Singh expressed his desire to see Brabourne host a Test again. However, that remains unfulfilled.