New Delhi: No discussion on the first set of Indian cricket greats can be complete without mentioning Lala Amarnath, who played 24 Tests for the country between 1933 and 1952.
Amarnath, who was born on this day in 1911, was the first Indian to score a Test century, incredibly achieving this feat on debut against England in Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1933.
Amarnath never replicated his debut performance, and his records may not always reflect his exalted stature in Indian cricket, particularly when contemporaries like the two Vijay’s — Merchant and Hazare — were far more prolific run-machines. However, Amarnath’s utility as a bowler, his leadership skills and the ability to occasionally don the wicket-keeping gloves cement his place among India’ early greats.
He played 24 Tests, scoring 878 runs at an average of 24.38, with that debut century and four half-centuries. He, however, made up for this with the handy medium-pace bowling that earned him 45 wickets at 32.91.
Nanik Amarnath Bharadwaj was born on 11 September 1911, and only later acquired the Punjabi honorific Lala. Hailing from Kapurthala, he was sent to live with his grandfather in Lahore when his mother passed away.
British journalist Peter Oborne notes that in Lahore, Amarnath was noticed by Tawakkal Majid, a member of the city’s prominent Rana family. The family, which ran one of the biggest cricket clubs in Lahore, took Amarnath under its patronage, and he began playing for the club.
For a player of Amarnath’s caliber, however, club cricket was just a stepping stone. Soon, he was noticed by Frank Tarrant, an Australian who worked as a cricket coach for the Maharaja of Patiala. He recommended Amarnath to his employer, and thereafter, he started playing for the Maharaja’s team. Read More