Imagine being talented, hard-working, with all the grit in the world. But the world knows you by the wrong name and you get to play only one test in your career. Not what any cricketer would want, is it?
That’s exactly what happened with Shute Banerjee. On this day, October 3, 2023, the birthday of Shute Banerjee, we remember the player that could have been. There are so many theories as to why he only played one test.
Some sports authors even mentioned his lineage and demeanor were to blame. Let’s unpack it all.
Filled With Grit and Talent
First thing first, the world gets Shute Banerjee’s full name wrong. Almost everywhere you check, his first name is listed as Sarobindu. Whereas, his actual name is Sarodindu. But the world now knows him as Sarobindu Nath Banerjee, with the nickname Shute Banerjee.
Shute Banerjee showed immense potential. He stood 5’11” tall and had a knack for bouncing batsmen out. He could bowl for hours without losing the pace of deliveries. Shute was quite the Batman too.
He may not have been as quick as other players, but his incredible stamina and dangerous bounces were formidable. Everything pointed to an illustrious career for the talented Bengal player. However, things would turn out to be different.
The Tragedy of the Single Test Match
Shute Banarjee’s career started early at the age of 19. Filled with the zeal of youth, and natural talent, he performed well in his debut match for Maharaja of Patiala’s XII. It’s where he first got noticed.
This landed him a spot in the Hindus team. And in 1935 Shute Banerjee even played for Bengal. He was a pretty good batsman too, and even opened for the Bengal team for both bowling and batting against Australia.
All was going pretty well. However, there are few cricketers who were as unfortunate as Shute Banerjee. He was a talented cricketer, one who had the knack to become one of the greats.
However, as luck would have it, Shute Banerjee only got to play one test match. That too, was when he was in his prime. He made his first appearance for India when he was 37 years old.
Historians and statisticians cite many reasons for this unfortunate event. Sports journalist Kishin R Wadhwaney wrote that cricketers from Bengal lacked temperament. They were very timid. This is one of the reasons why Shute Banerjee wasn’t given many opportunities.
Apart from that, Shute Banerjee played on a team where there were other star bowlers – Mohammad Nasir, Jahangir Khan, and Amar Singh. It’s fair to say that Shute didn’t get the spotlight amidst these talented fast bowlers. He only played a single test match during his whole career. His stats for the match was 5 for 127.
Hanging His Boots and Retirement
After his only test match, Shute Banerjee kept leading the Bihar team in the Ranji Trophy throughout the 1957 to 1958 season. He even umpired for two Ranji Trophy matches too! Surprisingly, he quit Bihar and started playing for Madhya Pradesh the next season. He was 48 years old at that time.
Told you he had grit. However, in a physically demanding sport like cricket, the pace of the game was too much for him. And his time playing for Madhya Pradesh was very short too. He only played one match before retiring.