The history of Baroda Cricket is inseparable from the patronage and involvement it has enjoyed from the Royal Family of Gaekwads.
Cricket in Baroda has a great history which goes back to Maharaja Sayajirao III. As early as 1904, in a letter to J M Framjee Patel (author of ‘Stray thoughts on Indian Cricket’), this great visionary king wrote that ‘cricket is going to become a national game’. He visualized the importance of this game and believed that it will foster discipline in the younger generation. He made sports a compulsory part of the school curriculum. A Parsi coach, Mr Machiwala, was employed to train his sons in cricket. The Prince Team was founded in 1898 to give impetus to Yuvraj Fatehsinhrao’s cricketing skills. While all his sons displayed an aptitude for cricket, Maharaja Sayajirao’s third born, Prince Shivajirao was outstanding. It was said that as a cricketer he had the stature of Prince Ranji of Jamnagar. He was referred to as Oxford ‘blue’. He played for India, All India to England (unofficial) in 1911 (1.6.1911 to 26.8.1911).
This love for cricket was passed down to Maharaja Sayajirao’s grandson, the late Maharaja Pratapsinhrao Gaekwad. A keen and skilled player himself, he laid the foundation of cricket in Baroda. To enable the youth in Baroda to get an exposure to top class cricket, he invited and lent his patronage to the best cricketers in India – Vijay Hazare, C S Nayudu, Amir Elahi, Gul Mohammed, Sadashiv Shinde, Shrirang Sohani, G Kishanchand and Chandu Borde were some of the outstanding sportsmen who made Baroda their home. He encouraged the sport at local, state and national level. Cricket in his reign, was made compulsory in school and colleges. This helped identify local talent. The Baroda College ground, the Motibaug ground and the Pratapsinh Gymkhana were maintained for the more serious cricketers; however, the Rajmahal ground, the Gujarat Krida Mandal ground were open for all cricket enthusiasts, young and old.
Maharaja Pratapsingh Rao sent Sardar W N Ghorpade as a representative of Baroda to a meeting in Delhi at the Roshanara Club on Nov. 21, 1927.
This meeting which was represented by other forty-five members was very significant as it took a definite and positive step to form a central board for controlling cricket in India. On April 16, 1934, he founded the present Baroda Cricket Association as The Central Board of Cricket in Baroda. Its founder President was Col. Kumar Shivraj Singh and the founder Secretary was Prof. S. V. Shevade. In 1937 it assumed the name of Baroda State Cricket Association. In 1938, it came to be known as Baroda Cricket Association, a name which is still in force. It continued to function under the patronage of the Gaekwads even after the state merged with the Indian union.
In 1949, the mantle of leadership fell on the shoulders of Maharaja Fatehsinhrao, eldest son of Maharaja Pratapsingh Rao Gaekwad who not only guided the destiny of cricket at the state level but also at the National level. A Ranji Trophy player, he also played against international team, he was a sports reporter and an expert commentator for international cricket all over the world. He was the President of the Board of Control for cricket in India from 1963-64 to 1965-66, and became the youngest person to represent his country at ICC. This period brought up abundant local talent of international standing, viz. cricketers like H R Adhikari, R B Nimbalkar, D K Gaekwad, J M Ghorpade, Aunshuman Gaekwad, Rashid Patel and Kiran More. Who were later followed by Nayan Mongia, Atul Bedade, Jacob Martin and Irfan Pathan. Many World Cup matches has been played in the stadium till then.
Second born and eldest daughter of Maharaja Pratapsingh Rao, Dr Mrunalini Devi Puar, an all-time enthusiast of the game, has been the President of Gujarat Women’s and Vice-President of the All India Women’s Cricket Association. Currently, she chairs the Women’s Wing of Baroda Cricket Association.
Maharaja Pratapsingh Rao’s grandson Samarjitsinh Ranjitsinh Gaekwad, who once played for Baroda in the Ranji Trophy, is presently Vice President of the BCA. Even today, the Motibaug Cricket ground remains open for the cricketing fraternity. The BCA office is housed within the precincts of the Laxmi Vilas Palace, the home of the royal family. The seed sown and nurtured by the Gaekwads of Baroda continues to grow and flower as the present royal family manifests an unfailing commitment to the sport that runs so deeply in their ethos…..
The Association was founded on April 16, 1934 As “The Central Board Of Cricket, Baroda”. The first president was Cl. Shivraj Singh and The Hon. Secretaries were Prof. S. S. Joshi and Shri H. D. Desai. In 1937 It assumed the name Of “Baroda Cricket Association”. In 1938 it came to be known as the Baroda Cricket Association. Interestingly the Central Board of Cricket, Baroda was part of the Gujarat Till 1937. Later when Baroda applied for a separate affiliation to the BCCI, it was immediately granted. On 25 April 1939, Maharaja of Kolhapur laid the foundation stone of Maharaja Pratapsinh Coronation Gymkhana. On 30 April 1939, foundation stone for the Baroda Stadium was laid by The Maharaja Pratapsinh Gaekwad of Baroda.