We have received news of the death of Maharaj Kumar Shivaji Rao (Shivajirao Gaekwad) who attended the school before the War.
Shivaji Rao, as we then knew him, was the son of Sir Sayajirao Gaekwad III, Maharaja of Baroda in India since 1863.
The Maharaja came to England in 1900, bringing with him a party of 27 (seven family members and a staff of 20, including a secretary, two tutors, companions, maids, valets and a cook).
Shivaji first appeared at the OPS in the Summer Term of 1900, as was recorded in the ‘Draconian’:
“Also we have had this term two of the sons of perhaps our best friend and ally amongst the native princes of India, the Maharaja of Baroda, who is at present an honoured guest in England. His boys, Jey Singh Rao and Shivaji Rao have made themselves quite at home with our English boys and are deservedly quite popular – and should become good cricketers.”
Shivaji returned to the OPS for the Summer Term of 1902, when we saw more of his cricketing ability. He was awarded a cricket bat for an innings of 94 against Cot Hill School. Mr Vassall’s comment on him at the end of term was most complimentary: “A good bat; clever catch at the wicket; played one magnificent innings and never failed in an emergency.”
Indeed he became a cricketer of note, playing first-class games – the first of which was for the Hindus against the Parsees at Bombay Gymkana in 1909; in 1910 he played for the Gentlemen of England v Oxford University.
Shivaji returned to Oxford to study at Christ Church, making four appearances for the Oxford University XI.
Wisden’s Cricketers’ Annual 1913 recorded that “Early in the season the Gaekwad of Baroda batted in such good style that he seemed almost certain of a ‘blue,’ but a serious accident – sustained away from the field – cut short his cricket.” It transpired that, after the University match against the Australians, he had become involved in a ‘rag’ in which he suffered a serious head injury. It was said that the ‘rag’ invaded the privacy of the dons and whilst the others managed to escape, he was left to face the consequences. He was ‘sent down’ and thereafter returned to Baroda.
The Maharajah, currently on another trip to this country, received the news of his son’s death by way of a cable on November 25th. It is understood that Shivaji died on pneumonia in Baroda on November 20th, aged 29. He leaves a wife and three children.