Cricket Club of India (CCI) has lost one of its pillars through the death of Keki Kotwal.
Kotwal (75) served as CCI’s cricket secretary for over 25 years, a landmark that moved its former president Raj Singh Dungarpur to call for a celebration not long before Raj Singh’s death in 2009.
Kotwal managed the Indian team during the 2000 ICC Knockout tournament in Kenya where Sourav Ganguly’s team lost to New Zealand in the final.
The bachelor, who lost the battle with a major illness, was remembered by former CCI players on social media: “Great guy, RIP,” wrote Salil Ankola while Jatin Paranjape, another India player, inscribed, “RIP Keki - forever a gentleman.”
Former Mumbai and CCI captain Shishir Hattangadi wrote, “We will miss Keki Kotwal as much as the Lord’s Cricket Ground. Wonderful man. RIP Keka.”
Hemant Kenkre, who captained Sachin Tendulkar at CCI, told mid-day yesterday that it was Kotwal who was given the task of speaking to the CCI managing committee to allow the then 15-year-old Tendulkar to be a part of the team despite the club rule which didn’t permit under-18 cricketers to use the dressing room.
In a tribute sent to this newspaper yesterday morning, Tendulkar said: “He was so friendly with me and ever so supportive. He encouraged me a lot in my early years with CCI. We all will miss him terribly.”
Former India wicketkeeper Chandu Patankar, who served the CCI as Secretary (Sports) for several years, remembered how Kotwal used to prepare the CCI wicket for all big games.
“Keki used to do his job earnestly and would be most nervous at the start of a game. He would watch the action alone from one corner of the clubhouse on the second floor and would feel at ease only after watching the bounce,” said Patankar.
Kenkre touched upon his superstitious side. “We were playing a fair weather tournament and had lost early wickets.
Sandeep Patil was batting with someone and was performing a rescue act. Keki kept standing and watching from just behind the sightscreen for a couple of hours until play ended.”