Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji


Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji was a cricketer for England and a Prince of Nawanagar State in India, known as 'Ranji' to his cricketing fans. As a child, he was chosen as heir to a distant relative, Vibhaji, the Jam Sahib of Navanagar, but then discarded. He studied at the Rajkumar College in Rajkot and then in 1888, at sixteen, Ranjitsinhji went to Britain. He joined Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1889. It was not until 1893, having played in the meantime for local clubs on 'Parker's Piece', that Ranji gained a place in the Cambridge University cricket team. He was the first Indian to win a cricket Blue. In 1895, Ranji began to play regularly for Sussex. Having faced opposition to his inclusion into the University side, there was now a growing public debate as to whether Ranji should be allowed to play for the England national side. In 1896, Ranji made his debut for England against Australia at Old Trafford. In 1897, Ranjitsinhji produced a book on the evolution of cricket in England called The Jubilee Book of Cricket. In the winter of 1897-8, Ranji toured Australia with the England team.

In 1904, Ranji returned to India as he was no longer playing for England and could not financially support himself in Britain. However, he continued to return to England at regular intervals and play for Sussex. In 1906, the new Jam Sahib of Navanagar, the son of Vibhaji, died and with no other formal heir, Ranjitsinhji assumed the throne. When war broke out in 1914, Ranji helped the imperial effort, by converting his house in Staines into a hospital for wounded soldiers, by donating troops from Navanagar and going to the Western Front himself. Ranji also had a lakeside castle at Ballynahinch, on the west coast of Ireland. In August 1915, he lost his right eye in a shooting accident in Yorkshire, and played his last game for Sussex in 1920. As an Indian Prince, Ranjitsinhji took up many political responsibilities: he represented India twice at the League of Nations, and was a delegate to the Round Table Conference sessions in 1930. He died in 1933 in one of his palaces in Jamnagar.

Published works: 

The Jubilee Book of Cricket (Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson, 1897)

With Stoddart's Team in Australia (London: Constable & Co., 1898)

Date of birth: 
10 Aug 1872

Duleepsinhji (nephew who also played cricket for England), C. B. Fry (friend and Sussex team mate), Lord Hawke (fellow cricketer), Madge Holmes (neighbours initially in Sidney Street, Cambridge: Ranji corresponds with Madge, 1891-1905).

Contributions to periodicals: 

Interview in The Strand Magazine, 12 (1896), pp. 251-8


Windsor Magazine


Secondary works: 

Graeme, Margaret, Ranji's A'Comin! (London: Horsham, Price & Co., 1903)

Guha, Ramachandra, A Corner of a Foreign Field: The Indian History of a British Sport (London: Picador, 2002)

Raiji, Vasant, Ranji; The Legend and the Man (Bombay: 1963)

Rodrigues, Mario, Batting for Empire: A Political Biography of Ranjitsinhji (Delhi: Penguin, 2003)

Ross, Alan, Ranji: Prince of Cricketers (London: Collins, 1983)

Sen, Satadru, Migrant Races: Empire, Identity and K. S. Ranjitsinghji (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004)

Wild, Roland, The Biography of Colonel His Highness Shri Sir Ranjitsinhji (London: Rich & Cowan, 1934)

Wilde, Simon, Ranji: A Genius Rich and Strange (London: Kingswood, 1990)

Wilde, Simon, ‘Ranjitsinhji Vibhaji, Maharaja Jam Sahib of Navanagar [Ranjitsinhji or Ranji] (1872–1933)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/35190]

Archive source: 

Letters to Madge Holmes, Wren Library, Trinity College, Cambridge

Correspondence with Lord Hardinge, Cambridge University Library

Crown Representative Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

School Records, Rajkot, India

Film footage, British Film Institute, London

City of birth: 
Kathiawar peninsula
Country of birth: 
Other names: 



Staines, TW18 4NX
United Kingdom
51° 25' 23.8008" N, 0° 30' 45.9648" W
Sussex Cricket Club BN3 3AN‎
United Kingdom
50° 49' 38.2008" N, 0° 11' 10.878" W
Trinity College Cambridge, CB2 1TQ
United Kingdom
52° 10' 21.3528" N, 0° 6' 40.3992" E
Date of death: 
02 Apr 1933
Location of death: 
Jamnagar, India
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1888
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1888-1904, 1908, 1912, 1915, 1920

Tags for Making Britain: 
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