Salim Durani (1934-2006) was an Indian Test cricketer. On 2 April 2023, he died after battling cancer.
Salim Aziz Durani was born on Tuesday, 11 December 1934 (age 88 years; at the time of death) in Afghanistan. Salim used to bowl with both his hands when he started playing cricket; he used to be a left-arm medium-pace bowler and a right-arm off-spinner. His father, who was also his first cricket coach, was not an advocate of Salim bowling with both hands and reached out to Vinoo Mankad for advice; Vinoo suggested that Salim should only be allowed to bowl using his left hand and that his right hand should be tied from behind to improve his left-arm spin bowling. Later, he was named to the school team for the inter-school Hill Shield tournament.
Height (approx.): 6′ 2″
Weight (approx.): 55 kg
Hair Colour: Salt and pepper
Eye Colour: Blue
Family & Caste
He belonged to a Pathan family in Jamnagar, Gujarat.
Parents & Siblings
His parents and grandfather belonged to Kabul, Afghanistan, and they moved to Jamnagar, Gujarat, in the early 1930s; his elder sister and her husband moved to Bangladesh. His father’s name was Abdul Aziz Durani. He was a cricket player and coach. His mother’s name is not known. Salim Durani had two sisters, Meenu and Nigar, and one brother, Jahangir Durani. Nigar was a former teacher at St. Ann’s High School in Jamnagar, Gujarat. Abdul Aziz played in a couple of unofficial test matches for India as a wicketkeeper between 1935 and 1936; he also played as a wicket-keeper and batsman for Sind and Nawanagar in the Ranji Trophy between 1932 and 1938. The then Jam Sahib, Sir Digvijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji Jadeja, was impressed by Aziz Durani’s wicket-keeping and batting performances for the Nawanagar team during the tour of Karachi in 1935 and offered him a job as a sub-inspector. In 1947, following the partition of India, his father left him and his family and moved to Karachi and lived there for the rest of his life; later, Aziz Durani became a cricket coach and trained many cricketers including Pakistan player Hanif Mohammad.
Some reports suggested that he was not married; however, in an interview, he revealed that he was married. His wife’s name is not known.
Salim Durani followed Islam.
In 1969, he was cast in the Bollywood film Ek Masoom. Later, he was cast as the lead actor opposite Parveen Babi in the Hindi film ‘Charitra’ (1973).
Salim Durani represented Saurashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Central Zone at the domestic level. In 1949, following his impressive form with the school team, he was selected for the all-Saurashtra inter-school tournament. Later, he was named to the state schools’ team for the all-India inter-school tournament in Calcutta (1949); this was Salim’s first match at Eden Gardens and he took six wickets in each inning of the tournament. Later, in an invitational match held in Rajkot, Gujarat he led his team to victory; he took 6 wickets and scored 41 runs in the match. Yusuf Farid, the then-Bombay team coach and the cricket coach of the Anjuman-I-Islam High School team was among the spectators and noticed Durani’s talent. Yusuf suggested that Salim should accompany him to Bombay and play for the Anjuman-I-Islam High School team in the Harris Shield tournament; the cricketer took up the offer and played for the Anjuman-I-Islam High School team in the Harris Shield tournament.
In his first match after moving to Bombay, Durani scored 23 runs and took three wickets against CCI in the Kanga League; this was the first-ever time he played on a turf wicket. In December 1953, he made his debut for the Saurashtra team against Gujarat in the Ranji Trophy and scored 108 runs at the Commerce College ground, Ahmedabad; the following season he left the Saurashtra team and joined the Gujarat team and played for them between 1954 and 1956. In 1956, he joined the Rajasthan team and played for them between 1956 and 1978. Salim was part of the Central Zone team that won their first-ever Duleep Trophy in the 1971-1972 season. In 1978, he announced his retirement from domestic cricket; in his 25-year-long first-class cricket career, he scored 8545 runs including, 14 centuries and took 484 wickets.
Salim Durani made his International Test debut on 1 January 1960 against Australia in Mumbai; he was 24 years old when he made his Test debut. In 1961, Salim was named to the Indian team for the Test series against the England team (1961-1962); he took eight wickets in the first match held in Kolkata and took ten wickets in the following match held at the Corporation Stadium in Chennai. The Indian team registered a historic 2-0 win against the visitors and Durani was widely praised in the media for his stellar performance. He scored his maiden century against the West Indies team at the Port of Spain in 1962; he scored 104 runs and took three wickets against them. Durani was dropped from the Indian team in January 1967 and was not named to the Test squad till January 1971; some reports suggested that there were some issues between him and the selectors and that they preferred others over him.
In March 1971, following his success in the domestic cricket circuit, he was named to the Test team for the series against the West Indies; he dismissed Clive Lloyd and Gary Sobers and was instrumental in India’s maiden victory against the West Indies. Although he performed well on the tour of the West Indies, Salim was dropped from the team after the third Test against the West Indies and was not selected for the 1971 tour of England. In 1972, he was named to the Test team for the series (1972-1973) against England and scored a half-century in the second innings; India won that match and levelled with the visitors (1-1). In the third match of the series, he scored 38 runs in each inning; however, he suffered a knee injury and was ruled out of the fourth test match. In February 1973, he played his final match for the Indian national Test team against the England team in Mumbai; he scored 73 runs in the first innings and 37 runs in the second innings, and India won the five-match series 2-1. During a 13-year-long international Test career, Salim played in 29 matches for India. He scored 1,202 runs, including seven fifties and one century; he also took 75 wickets, including three five-wicket hauls.
- 2011: CK Nayudu Award for lifetime achievement
On 2 April 2023, he died after battling cancer.
— IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) April 2, 2023
- Cricketer: Sir Frank Worrell
- Cricket Ground: Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai
- He was the first cricketer to win an Arjuna Award; he made his international debut in 1960 and won the award the following year.
Salim Durani played just 29 Tests, but his impact goes beyond this! He was Indian cricket’s ultimate entertainer known for hitting sixes on demand.
— The Better India (@thebetterindia) April 3, 2023
- Salim was fondly called Prince Salim and Shahzada Salim by the fans and teammates.
- He is the only Indian Test cricketer born in Afghanistan and was the first Afghan-born cricketer to play Test cricket.
- Some reports suggested that Durani was born in Kabul, Afghanistan; however, he refuted the claims in many interviews and pointed out that his mother gave birth to him in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, British India (now in Pakistan) on the way from Kabul to Karachi.
- During the 1971 tour of the West Indies, he made a revelation that he would take the wickets of Clive Lloyd and Gary Sobers and that came true in the next match when he dismissed Sobers for a duck and Clive Lloyd was caught by Wadekar for 15.
- Sunil Gavaskar made his debut during the 1971 tour of the West Indies. In an interview, when he was asked about Gavaskar, he said,
I think Gavaskar, who is like a son to me, was one of the greatest batsmen of all-time. He was technically so perfect. And he was an intelligent captain, too”.
- Salim was not named to the playing eleven for the fourth Test match against the England team in Kanpur; the audience criticized the selectors’ decision to bench Salim and booed the home team and the stadium was filled with ‘No Salim, No Test’ posters and placards. Salim was named to the playing eleven for the next match and it was his final appearance for the national team.
- All of Durani’s eight overseas Test matches were in the West Indies.
Salim Durani was a gifted batsman who could send ball to the boundary in an era when few batsmen tried to hit fours and sixes.
For example, in a tour against West Indies, there were master batsmen in the team but none could hit ball to the boundary.
Eight times ball was struck… pic.twitter.com/O0BSaBMdAO
— Shams Ur Rehman Alavi شمس (@indscribe) April 2, 2023
- The Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) offered him the role of a coaching staff with a salary of Rs. 50,000 in 1983; however, he rejected the offer.
- The former Indian skipper, Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, labelled him as a player who was not easy to control and often criticised Salim for his lack of focus.
- In 2018, the BCCI invited Salim Durani for the opening day of the Test match between India and Afghanistan in Bengaluru; this was Afghanistan’s maiden Test match.
- He used to consume alcohol and would often smoke; he quit smoking in 2020.
- In January 2023, he suffered a fall at his home and underwent proximal femoral nail surgery.