Former Bengal cricket captain Gopal Bose died after suffering a cardiac arrest at a Birmingham hospital on Sunday. He was 71 and is survived by his wife and son Arijit. An opening batsman, Bose had scored 3757 runs in 78 first-class games with eight hundreds and 17 fifties. He also took 72 wickets with his handy off-breaks including one five-wicket haul.
He was the first cricketer from Bengal to play an ODI against England in 1974, which was incidentally only the second ODI that India played.
Interestingly, Bose was the manager of the Virat Kohli-led India U-19 team that won the colts World Cup in Kuala Lumpur in 2008.
After a prolific 1973-74 season, during which he scored a big hundred for Rest of India in the Irani Cup, Bose was included for India’s unofficial tour of Sri Lanka, where he scored a hundred and shared a 194-run opening stand with Sunil Gavaskar.
He was picked for India’s 1974 tour to England and his struggles against the moving delivery meant that he didn’t play a Test match on that tour.
He was also picked in the squad for a 1975 Test match against the West Indies in Chennai when Gavaskar was injured but the erstwhile selection committee decided to promote Eknath Solkar as Farokh Engineer’s opening partner. Bose never got a call-up after that.
However, he made a name for himself as one of the most respected coaches in Bengal with sharp insight. Some of the Bengal stars of later years like Ranadeb Bose, Devang Gandhi, and Avishek Jhunjhunwala learnt their cricket under Bose’s tutelage.
There was a popular saying in the late 80’s and early 90’s that “it can’t be that you are a resident of South Kolkata and you have not learnt your cricket under Gopal da”.
Known to speak his mind, Bose was never a favourite with the establishment in Bengal cricket. It was only after Sourav Ganguly became the president of the Cricket Association of Bengal that he was conferred with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
“Lost a very dear person today ..luckily he was with his entire family in Birmingham ..will miss him ..may his soul rest in peace,” former India captain Sourav Ganguly wrote on his twitter page.
Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said: “Saddened at the passing away of Gopal Bose, former India cricketer, the shining star of Bengal cricket for many years and captain. My condolences to his family, admirers and friends in the sports fraternity.”
The likes of Manoj Tiwary and Wriddhiman Saha also expressed their condolences.