Raj Singh Dungarpur – a man, a legend, a quintessential cricket zealot who dedicated his entire life to the game of cricket. The contribution to this game and the national governing body (BCCI) is incomparable. Being the sort of person he was, he has left an indelible mark in the hearts and minds of many people. So many players owe their career to this gentleman, and he was a true gentleman. Born to royalty, the nobleness never left him, be he on the cricket ground, in front of the mike being goaded by some reporters or in his favorite haunt-CCI (the Brabourne stadium). It was here that a number of us associated with this project had the privilege of meeting him for the first time. Later, we met all over the country but he was never so much at home as in the CCI. It was his veritable fort and he held court there. Rajbhai, as he was popularly known, was a benefactor who showed a number of people the way and gave direction to the passion for the game we all have.But then, this was Rajbhai as he was popularly known. He recognized the love for the game in us and guided us, or rather gently steered us in the direction of enhancing rural and domestic talent.

We all vividly remember, once we were in Varanasi, the DLW ground, surrounded by about a hundred children of various ages, vying for his attention, to impress him with their skills. In one far away corner of the ground Rajbhai spotted a young lad practicing and called for him. This child was hardly 13-14 years old, but had a perfect stance and showed beautiful strokes when he played. Rajbhai was so taken by his talent, that he immediately called for his parents. It was then that he was informed that his father was a vegetable hawker, knowing which, Rajbhai then took it upon himself to help the boy in every which way possible. This is one instance of the innumerable people whose lives Rajbhai had touched. All of us know of a Sachin and an Azharuddin, but his life was littered with instances where he had extended his hands to help others, be it in cricket, or life in general. Rajbhai had a tremendous sense of humour and he could have you in splits in seconds if he felt so inclined. What comes to the mind is the time we were traveling from Amaravati to Nagpur where we had dragged Rajbhai along with Prashant Vaidya. Rajbhai had no idea how long we had to travel “its my way or the highway" according to these people who are taking me, he would reply to innumerable calls he got that day. “ Once in a school in Indore, when we were attempting to put across a cricketing point, exasperated, he said “Maine kaha cricket kheli hain? Cricket to tumhi khele ho.”

A raconteur par excellence, once he started down the memory lane, time just flew. His dedication to the game of cricket is legendary. Despite having lavish houses in Puna, Mumbai and UK, he would prefer to live in one suite in the CCI. He was at his best when facing the ground every evening, and one would find him on the rattan chairs on the green grass of the CCI, inviting anyone who took his fancy, for dinner.He was also a great connoisseur of food. His favorite dishes, done exactly so, and his aides took good care to turn the savories exactly the way he liked them. Rajbhai had a hawk’s eye where spotting talent in youngsters was concerned. His role in presenting Sachin Tendulkar to the world is the stuff legends are made of. “Talent is in the villages, not in the crowded metros.” He would say. And that led us to look for talented cricket players all over the country. This quest took us far and wide, and the experiences we have had in the course of this travel will be the content of an independent book. Rajbhai, in the course of his life came across a lot of people, he helped many, and quite a few became good friends and were loyal to him till the end. All the people whose
life's were touched by him were under his influence. He was the sort of a person no one could ignore.

Rajbhai not only touched our life, but gave us direction and to show our gratitude we have made it our life’s mission to walk the path shown by him. “Let’s go rural” he said. And rural it is. Picking up talent from rural India, polishing them and then displaying it for the world to see and behold is our priority. It is with this purpose in mind we have set forth on a project to build a sports township in a rural location wherein we will be giving the type of extensive coaching enjoyed by the players from the metros for the rural boys, at prices they can afford.

We are also planning to build a stadium complex “One match is equivalent to ten days’ practice”, he would say. The cricket academy shall be named after him and in his honor. We have bought and developed five acres of land for the project, and also acquired another seven acres on lease from the government for the project.

Do write to us if you would like to view the facilities as well as the memorabilia and photographs we have collected from his friends and family.