Remembering Lala Amarnath on his Birthday

EVEN AS the India cricket team gets ready to play against New Zealand on Friday (September 11) and thus start another season of non-stop action today, there is a reason to pause and pay tribute to an Indian cricket icon, Lala Amarnath.

The legendary cricketer was born at Kapurthala in Punjab on this day in 1911. Nanik Amarnath Bhardwaj better known as Lala Amarnath, one of the great figures in world cricket was born on September 11, 1911. He belonged to a very simple family and took the world by surprise, when he scored 109 runs while playing for Southern Punjab against MCC in the year 1933-34. Wisden quoted his innings as “A Brilliant Display.” His performance got noticed and he became a star with a century on test debut at the genteel Old Gymkhana ground in Bombay.

Despite his performance, he had to sit out of the national squad for more than 12 years. The simple reason being that he raised voice against the dominance of royal figures and their supporters prevailing in the Cricket scenario of India those days. But after the nation got Independence, he led the Indian Cricket Team to the tour of Australia. In the year 1952-53, he led India to first series win against Pakistan. He played his last Test match against Pakistan at Kolkata in December 1952. Amarnath scored heavily in domestic circuit but couldn’t replicate the same success on International stage. He scored 878 runs in 24 tests and took 45 wickets. The figures are very ordinary, but they do no justice to either his spasmodic brilliance or his enduring influence.
It was his influence that made his two sons Mohinder and Surinder to takeup cricket as a career. Mohinder Amarnath later played a vital role in India’s triumph in 1983 world cup. Amarnath was called an icon by Atal Behari Vajpayee and his knowledge of Cricket was impeccable. In the later stage of his life he acquired widespread affection as the nation’s leading source of cricket anecdotes.

As a Cricket fan, I pay my respect to this great Cricketer on his birthday.