The legends club of Mumbai

Ritesh Misra Roar Guru

By Ritesh Misra, Ritesh Misra is a Roar Guru

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    Famous cricket writer-commentator John Arlott formed the Master’s Club at the Oval in memory of Sir Jack Hobbs, who was known as ‘the Master’.

    Similarly veteran cricket administrator the late Raj Singh Dungarpur, who was BCCI and CCI president, was instrumental in forming the Legends Club in Mumbai to honour the cricketing legends from India. 

    In 2002 Raj Singh attended a luncheon meeting of the Master’s Club which gave him the idea of forming the Legends Club in Mumbai. The club was launched on the birthday of Vijay Merchant on 12 October 2003 and comprises a group of cricket lovers who meet and celebrate the birthdays of legends.

    The prestigious Cricket Club of India has agreed to be the venue host for such meetings. If the legend is a living legend, he too is invited to attend the function and, depending on availability, he often does.

    Leading sportsmen are invited to address the audience and at the end of the address there is a question and answer session. Members of the audience are also asked to speak about the legends.

    For instance, recently Sunil Gavaskar, despite not being able to attend for his own funcion, went for the birthday celebration of Vinoo Mankad and gave a brilliant speech. He also addressed questions from the audience with fellow panelists Ajit Wadekar and Madhav Apte, who is the current president of the club.

    The three original icons of the Legends Club were Vijay Hazare, Vijay Merchant and Vinoo Mankad. Vijay Hazare of course was the first Indian to score twin centuries in a Test, and against the team known as ‘The Invincibles’ no less. Vijay Merchant, with 71.64, has the second highest batting average in first-class cricket after Don Bradman and his 95.14. Vinoo Mankad is one of the greatest all-rounders of all time. 

    The next three cricketers to become icons of the Legends Club were Sunny Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar and Kapil Dev. Finally the decision was taken to induct a non-cricketer as an icon, and that honour went to badminton legend Nandu Natekar. 

    The rock behind Legends Club is the president, Madhav Apte, a young 85-year-old good humoured and knowledgeable ex-cricketer. He had played seven Tests and had the honour not only to be coached by Vinoo Mankad but also to open for Tests with him. He had an average of 49 and was mysteriously dropped.

    Madhav Apte has given the club a formal structure with a constitution and has granted membership to cricket lovers, and he presides over meetings with his customary charm. Other regulars are Ajit Wadekar, Nari Contractor, Vasu Paranjpe, Shishir Hattangadi and noted commentator Milind Wagle.

    The lectures and question-answer session are followed by dinner. There are seven functions on the birthdays of these seven icons. 

    If your interest is T20 cricket, this is not for you. If your interest is the glamour aspect of cricket, then the Legends Club is not for you.

    However, if you are interested in the longer format of the game, namely Test matches, and have an interest in cricket history and would like to hear greats of the game speak about legends, then you would like to attend a meeting at the Legends Club, Mumbai.

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    The Crowd Says (10)

    • October 15th 2017 @ 7:38am
      Kersi Meher-Homji said | October 15th 2017 @ 7:38am | ! Report

      Ritesh, very nostalgic article. Vijay Hazare always was and always will be my hero number one. I also admired Vijay Merchant and Vinoo Mankad. True legend of cricket as are Sunny, Sachin and Kapil.
      I note that the third great Vijay, Vijay Manjrekar, is not included in the legends list. Do you know why? And why no Polly Umrigar? I believe in CCI, Mumbai, there is a Polly Umrigar Room.

    • October 16th 2017 @ 8:15am
      Ritesh Misra said | October 16th 2017 @ 8:15am | ! Report

      Thanks Kersi. I do not know abut will ask Madhav Apte the President when i meet him next, and i will revert back regarding both Vijay Manjrekar and Polly Umrigar.
      Yes there is a Polly Umrigar Sportsmans bar in the CCI which also was the idea of Raj Singh Dungarpur. It has lots of cricket memorabilia such as a 4 kilogram silver plated bat presented by Arthur Gilligan to CK Nayudu for his 153 which accelerated India getting test status. CK Nayudu’s daughter presented it for the Polly Umrigar bar. Raj Singh also presented his 110 year old book by ranjitsinghji for the Polly Umrigar Bar

    • October 16th 2017 @ 8:29am
      Kersi Meher-Homji said | October 16th 2017 @ 8:29am | ! Report

      Thank you Ritesh for this additional information.
      When I had visited Mumbai in 2004, Raj Singh had invited me to CCI and made me an honorary member for one month.

      • October 16th 2017 @ 10:36pm
        Ritesh Misra said | October 16th 2017 @ 10:36pm | ! Report

        Thats Lovely Kersi. an Apt and deserving honour to you for your contribution to the sport.
        Recently the Gate of the CCI was named “Raj Singh Dungarpur Gate” and the chief guest for the function was Sachin Tendulkar . He said during the function that naming the Gate after Raj Singh is apt as one used to take his blessings before entering the ground to bat or field or bowl.
        Interestingly Raj Singh had selected him. Against Pakistan in late 1989. 6 months or so earlier he was supposed to have an outside chance to be selected for the tour to the west indies. But Raj Singh did not select him saying that the youngster may get hit by marshall or patterson or ambrose or bishop. Indian Actor tom alter who took Sachin’s 1st interview asked him his reaction and Sachin replied “the more early i am hit, the more faster i will learn”.

        • October 17th 2017 @ 3:52pm
          Johnno said | October 17th 2017 @ 3:52pm | ! Report

          Good article Ritesh

    • October 16th 2017 @ 11:29pm
      Kersi Meher-Homji said | October 16th 2017 @ 11:29pm | ! Report

      Thanks Ritesh. That was an apt reply by fearless Sachin.
      I had first met Raj Singh at the SCG. Discussing Sachin he had said that occasionally he would drive a ball slowly to a deep fielder so that he could take 3 instead of 2 runs.

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 5:37am
        Ritesh Misra said | October 23rd 2017 @ 5:37am | ! Report

        That indeed was smart thinking by a smart cricketer

    • October 17th 2017 @ 1:16am
      Johnno said | October 17th 2017 @ 1:16am | ! Report

      Good article Ritesh, I enjoyed it hearing about his history stuff in India with vintage clubs… India has a few the upper classes from Billiards to horse Polo..
      Tollygunge club kolkata has a long rich history, I’ve red about about that vintage prestigious club..

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 5:37am
        Ritesh Misra said | October 23rd 2017 @ 5:37am | ! Report

        Thanks Johnno. I was in Kolkata for 9 years. and though not a member of Tollygunge Club have visited it a few times. It indeed is a prestigious club.

      • Roar Guru

        October 31st 2017 @ 7:51pm
        Anindya Dutta said | October 31st 2017 @ 7:51pm | ! Report

        Johnno – I am a member of Tollygunge Club and if we ever end up in Kolkata at the same time, would love to host you there!

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