The veteran Indian sports journalist Dicky Rutnagur passed away at the age of 82 in London on Thursday night. He was ailing for a long time, having bravely battled cancer for many years.
Rutnagur was a highly respected and admired personality in cricket journalism, who made his name through newspaper reporting in India and England as well as through radio commentary. In his illustrious career, which ended when he retired in 2005, he covered more than 300 Test matches.
Born on February 28, 1931, Rutnagur entered into sports journalism by becoming the co-editor of the Indian Cricket-Field Annual along with Pearson Surita and statistician Anandji Dossa, a stint which lasted from 1957-58 to 1965-66, and also wrote for other Indian publications. He first wrote for the Wisden Cricketer’s Almanack in 1963, and his most recent piece appeared in the 2007 edition. In the mid sixties, he shifted base to England, where he wrote about not only cricket, but also other sports such as badminton and squash in the Daily Telegraph for nearly four decades.
He extensively covered India’s historic 1983 World Cup campaign, and was a regular reporter on the county circuit for many years. As a reporter, he was respected for his unbiased comments and romantic language. He is known to be the only man who was present at both Swansea in 1968 and Mumbai in 1985, the two occasions when Garfield Sobers and Ravi Shastri respectively achieved the feat of hitting six sixes in in an over.
Rutnagur had an equally successful career as a radio commentator and had the privilege of commentating on India’s twin overseas successes of the early seventies – namely the Test series wins in the West Indies in 1970-71, and in England in 1971 – in the process becoming a popular commentator both in India and in the Caribbean. He was known for his wit, jovial nature and practical pranks in the press box, leaving his erstwhile colleagues with a rich number of anecdotes. He even wrote two books – Test Commentary (India v England 1976-77) and Khans Unlimited (the history of squash in Pakistan), and was awarded the Life Time achievement award by the Indian Journalists’ Association (IJA) in 2010.
The cricketing fraternity fondly remembered Rutnagur, paying rich tributes to him:-
‘I used to share several things with Dicky. He was a very polished man. He was a true Indian, always batting for our team even when we were down in the dumps.’
– Ajit Wadekar
‘He used to be part of the Indian team whenever he was covering matches. I am really saddened to hear that he is no more. It is a great loss to Indian cricket. In those days, there were a few journalists who travelled with the team and were regarded as part of the team. Dicky was one of them.’
He knew the game well. There was nothing hanky-panky about him. He would write what he observed and heard.’
– Nari Contractor
‘How sad to hear of Dicky Rutnagur’s passing. Anyone who follows county cricket will have read his reports over decades. Great enthusiast.’
– Jonathan Agnew
‘How sad to hear of Dicky Rutnagur’s passing. Dicky was a stalwart of writing on the English County Cricket scene. Delightful man. RIP Dicky.’
– Alan Wilkins
‘Giant cricket writer/commentator Dicky Rutnagur dies in London. Unsung. Leaves behind rich Parsi culture and joyous cricket moments – RIP Dicky Boy- great to know you!’
– Bishan Singh Bedi
May his soul rest in peace.