Amarnath Bharadwaj famously known as Lala Amarnath was Independent India’s first-ever captain. He served Indian cricket for 22 years from 1933 to 1955. The second-longest after Sachin Tendulkar. However, Amarnath’s 22 years weren’t as glorious as they are thought to be. He spent most of the years not playing for the country due to the politics and controversy surrounding Indian cricket.
He was quite often the victim of the controversies that happened in his career and on top of it, when the peak of his career was about to come, the world cricket was shut due to the beginning of WW2. Hence Amarnath played a total of just 24 test matches for India.
He was a decent all-rounder for the team whose contribution has helped team India on various levels and tours. The major feather on his cap was India’s first series win and too against Pakistan in 1952. But let's take a look back at Amarnath’s glorious and yet not so glorious career.
Lala Amarnath Profile:
Birth and Adoption by a Muslim Family
Born on 11th September 1911 in Kapurthala Punjab, Amarnath’s parents slipped more into poverty. But here is how destiny helped him, one fine day when Amarnath was playing with his friends in a park, a man was strolling past the park when one shot made him stop and watch the child play. That child was nonother than Lala Amarnath who had a glamorous cover drive, and the man was Takkawal Majid, leading man of one of the best cricket academies in Lahore.
He asked Amarnath to hit another cover drive and he did, Majid went along with Amarnath to meet his parents and upon learning their poverty, he decided to raise Amarnath and groom him to be a professional cricketer.
Test Debut and Career
Amarnath made his test debut at a young age of 21, he was selected for the tour against England. And made his debut on 15th December 1933. It was a dream debut for him as he hit a century in his first innings. Sadly, it was Lala’s first and last century for India.
In the upcoming tours and matches he played, he always contributed here and there with the bat and bowl. In his 24 test matches, he has scored about 878 runs and taken 45 wickets. Nevertheless, these stats don’t form a good impression of a potentially greater athlete. His career saw events that side lined him for 10 -12 years and controversies seemed to have a good bond with him.
It was the tour of England in 1936, Amarnath had played 3 test matches for India. The side was led by Vizzy, the Maharajkumar of Vizianagram. During those times there was a lack of structure in the cricket board and it is said that Vizzy became the captain after manipulation and politics. He was a poor captain and during one innings in the tour he made Lala Amarnath wait for his batting. Lala was all padded up ready to go and bat but Vizzy kept on pushing him down the order. Frustrated by this, Amarnath’s impulsive nature triggered and he hurled abuses at the captain. This saw him being controversially sent back from the tour due to indiscipline and there was a gap of 10 years between his 3rd and 4th test.
On top of this when World War 2 began in 1935, world cricket stopped for 6 years, but Amarnath participated in the first-class cricket. He played 186 matches and scored 10,426 runs and took 463 wickets.
When international cricket resumed, Lala Amarnath was given his due and was made captain in the 1947-48 tour to Australia. Following years marked the later stage of his career and he failed to perform as a batsman but was praised for his aggressive captaincy.
In 1952, history was created under his captaincy when India defeated Pakistan in a test match and fact went on to win their first test series.
The government also felicitated him with the Padma Bhushan in 1991. The Indian legend died aged 88 in Delhi on 5th August 2000.