AMAR SINGH - THE LEGEND

The first official Indian cricket team that travelled to England in 1932 was lead by “Maharaj Natvar sinhji of Porbandar” while “the Prince of Limbdi Ghanshaym sinhji” was the vice Captain of that team. However both of them withdrew before the test match started, and Col.C.K. Naydu became the first Captain of India.

But how many of us know that there was a player in that team named “Ladha bhai Nakum Amar singh” who was from our own region of Saurashtra and that too from Rajkot. He was a right arm medium pace bowler and very useful lower order batsman. A genuine all-rounder one can say on the basis of his outstanding records in India and overseas. Len Hutton once said “there is no better bowler in this World than Amar singh”. Another England great Wally Hammond said about Amar Singh's bowling "he came off the pitch like the crack of doom".

Indeed, Amar Singh was the first great Indian bowler known for his sharp- accurate bowling, endurance and ability to make the ball talk. He could move the ball in the air or cut it sharply off the pitch. He made his mark in the Indian cricket by becoming the first bowler to take 100 wickets in Ranji trophy (in 16 matches) and only second to score 1000 runs in Ranji trophy. In a very short Ranji Trophy career playing for Western India (WISCA) and Nawanagar he achieved those amazing milestones.

He played seven Tests before the World war-II. In the first Test in 1932 he took four wickets and hit an attacking 51, coming in at No 9. Against England in 1933-34, he bowled really well taking 4 wickets for 106 in the second Test at Calcutta. In the final Test at Madras, in the absence of Nissar, he had to work overtime and rose to the occasion with a bag of seven for 86 in the first innings. Going in at No. 4, he scored a hard hitting 48.

Amar Singh was however at his best in England where the conditions suited him. From 1932 onwards playing in English county cricket he took 111 wickets (20.78) and made 641 runs (22.89). By 1936 he was a famous Lancashire League professional and was released only for a few games for the Indian touring team which played 3 test matches in England. In the first Test, he took 6 wickets for 35 in the first innings. In the second Test he again displayed his batting abilities by hitting an unbeaten 48 to help India draw the game. In the final Test at the Oval he scored a valuable 44 going in at No. 4 thus proving beyond doubt that he could be classified as an all rounder. At home, he was at his best against Lord Tennyson's team in 1937-38 when he bagged 36 wickets (16.66) in the five unofficial Tests.

It was an irony of the fate and greatest tragedy that this great cricketer Amar singh died at a very young age of 30. Just imagine what he would have contributed to the game of cricket for this region had he lived longer! Having said that Amar singh will always be remembered as one of the finest cricketers this region has ever produced and will always live in the hearts of cricket lovers.

Photo Gallery at Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium has some of rare and priceless photos of Amar Singh.

-By Prakash Bhatt

(Prominent Player and Former Captain of Saurashtra Ranji Team)