Name: Shomit Dutta
Profile: RHB, LG
Tweet dis: The Compleat gentleman & Scholar. Versatile bowler. Princely batting excuses capricious running. Poetry at the crease: indeed, epic poetry.
Pen portrait: “Quite individual and distinctive in style, he possessed exceptional keenness of eye, besides such power and flexibility of wrist, that on a fast wicket he
could do almost anything in the way of scoring. Thanks to his special gifts he could – and did – take the good length ball off the middle-stump and glance it to leg with a measure of certainty no one
else has ever equalled or even approached. In this way he was no safe model for any player of average skill, for the attempt to bring off many of his strokes must have been fatal to most
Thus quoth Wisden of the wizard KS Ranjitsinhji, and the same might be said of our finest batsman. With 19 fifties and two tons in 30 innings, he soars over all in
Bradmanesque style, his average of 80.14 twice that of the next best [warranting the double-length entry here, Ed]. No wonder Shomit’s is the name on the team sheet most likely to
dismay the opposition. His elegant batting is a joy to watch, especially close up (though better as umpire than non-striker, with his idiosyncratic calling, lackadaisical running and princely command
of the strike; a fuller portrait of his running/calling requires a separate article – or, perhaps, a complaints forum).
In attack, he can be domineering, destructive, dismissive; as with Viv Richards, oppositions often sigh with relief if he allows them to dismiss him for a mere 50. In
defence, he can be doggedly determined, like Sachin Tendulkar; he hates to lose, and is as dedicated in rescuing us from a crisis (putting on 120 for 7th wicket against St Hugh’s, 1996) as in
dictating the game (his club record 126 not out, against Rossie Priory, 2006: his second Gardeners ton). This measured temperament makes the most of his vast appetite for runs; when he can be
bothered to run singles, the opposition get nervous. His perspicuous understanding of tempo has more than once seen him rescue a lost cause with majestic aplomb (witness the nail-biting victory
against Meigle in 1999) or accelerate spectacularly from a necessarily cautious, even crabby start (his unbeaten 76, out of a total of 118-6, against Calthorpe in 2005). Happily for GCC, he has been
less successful when batting against us, notably caught at mid-on off Angus while playing for Crathie in 2003.
Shomit’s bowling has undergone transformations as multifarious as Sobers. The languid medium-pacer of GCC’s early years gave way first to finger-spinning and, nowadays,
wrist spin. Always dangerous at our level, he is never reticent to take the ball (nor to murmur a word or two of advice to team-mates). He bamboozled Ockley in 2004, alongside spin twins Clayton R
and Johnstone H, reducing them from match-winning 110-1 to desultory 152 all out with 6-16, a club best at the time. Bowlers confidently rely upon his slip fielding while remaining rather more
sceptical of his pace across the outfield.
One of the founders of University College Oxford’s women’s cricket side, Shomit likes to lurk, like Achilles, amongst the ladies. Nothing gave him more
pleasure than his wife Melissa’s exquisite cover drive in the six-asides: “It was like a dream,” he reported. In a later six-aside competition, having declared that our Swiss-Serb bowling newbie,
Mirko Sekulić, would never bowl him in 1000 deliveries in the nets, Shomit was obliged to eat his words. But words were always Shomit’s forte: Sunday mornings on tour offered a forum for discussion
of Greek particles (remember, for example, his phonological discourse in Kirriemuir on the link between Greek p and Latin q, eg penta/quinque); inevitably,
it fell to him to extemporise a reply to the balladeer of Ballater’s hectic hexameters, relishing particularly Anton’s subjunctive: “Though I be not Shakespeare.”
Duties for Beaconsfield and, latterly, as captain of Pinter’s Gaieties have limited his appearances (club rules, alas, placing him in Also Batted), but Shomit’s scoring has
nonetheless delighted: by turns, scintillating, merciless, heroic. May umpires’ knees continue to quake at his thunderous straight drive and his lightning leg glance. WS