There are very few cricketers who can claim to have come close to beating a record set by Sir Donald Bradman. Bhausaheb Nimbalkar is one of them.
In Mumbai to receive the CK Nayudu award, Bhausaheb spoke about the two days that were undoubtedly the best of his long cricketing career.
Playing for Maharashtra, against Kathiawad (now Saurashtra), Nimbalkar came close to breaking Bradman's record for the highest individual score in first class cricket, falling just nine runs short.
The octogenarian recounts: "The match was in Pune, and I came out to bat one-down on the second day. Somehow I played so fast, that I reached hundred before lunch. That same day I got a message from Donald Bradman urging me to break the record."
"By lunch next day (which was the last day of the match), I was nine runs short of the record. The umpires decided that there would be twelve balls bowled that would allow me to get to the record. But the Kathiawad team refused to come out. The umpires requested the team to come out, so did the officials. I personally went and requested them to continue as it would have been a big honour for India, but the team just packed their bags and left for the hotel. It was very disappointing," Nimbalkar said.
A bigger disappointed for him, however, is that he could never play for India. He played just one unofficial match for India against the first Commonwealth team, and scored 48.
"It was disappointing. In that game, I played at number nine, whereas I was a one-down batsman. I don't understand why I was never picked to play for India."
Nimbalkar names CK Nayudu as one of the biggest influences on his life. "He took great interest in my game, especially when he was coach of Holkars. He allowed me to stay at his home in Indore for a while, and helped me get a job. When I was growing up, Mushtaq Ahmed and Vijay Hazare were great influences and my brother Rausaheb Nimbalkar also gave me tips on playing cricket."
Playing for nearly thirty years and six teams, he is in a position to comment on the state of the game today. "I think players have become more defensive now," he says.