Skip to main content

Indian cricket administration's unjust ways hit Mohinder Amarnath's potential

By Harsh Thakor* 

Mohinder Amarnath, born on 24 September 1950 was the son of late Indian former cricketer, cricket analyst and actor Lala Amarnath (the first post-independence captain of India). His brother Surinder Amarnath was a former test player and Rajinder a first class cricketer. Few batsmen were more reminiscent of an architect or surgeon out in the middle, doing exactly what the doctor ordered as Mohinder or ‘Jimmy’ Amarnath Ultimate man when the tide was swaying against you.
‘Jimmy’ Amarnath took mental resilience to a degree few cricketers ever did. Technically he was a master, achieving perfection as an exponent of the cover drive and hook. His footwork was razor sharp. In the mid 1980’s I can hardly name any Indian batsman was so committed to the interests of his team, above himself or in pursuit personal records. He was not so stylish, but if there was someone I would back to perform the perfect cricket Innings the name of Amarnath would be right up there.
He was also a handy medium pace bowler, bowling swingers and cutters with great skill and control. He had a distinctive run-up where he slowed down as he reached the bowling crease.


Mohinder made his debut against Australia at Chennai in December 1969, as a quick-bowling all rounder. At his peak he was a top order batsman who mainly played at No. 3 for India. He was also a handy medium pace bowler, bowling swingers and cutters with great skill and control. He had a distinctive run-up where he slowed down as he reached the bowling crease.
In his very first series in West Indies in 1975-76 Amarnath gave glimpses of his endowed skill with a measured 85 at Port of Spain which played an important role in shaping India's then record fourth innings run chase. He ably supported Gavaskar and Vishwanath who both made centuries, batting with even more assurance in the middle. When he departed, an Indiana win was virtually sealed. At Kingston in the final test on a wicket with cracks,Amarnath withstood a blood bath when the Calypso paceman bombarded the Indians with a continuous barrage of bouncers.
Jimmy failed in the home series against England in 1976-77 but bounced back spectacularly on the 1977-78 tour of Australia. He scored 445 runs at an average around 50 with 1 century and three fifties. It was a revelation watching Amarnath drive and hook the likes of Jeff Thomson all over the place, scoring a century on the fastest track at Perth. Significantly he played an important part in shaping India's wins in the 3rd and 4th test and in a losing cause in the final test, ensured that India achieved glory even in defeat, making the highest losing fourth innings total ever.
On the 1978-79 tour of Pakistan Mohinder was felled by Imran and relatively unsuccessful. In the home series against West Indies he sculpted a century in the final test at Kanpur, scoring 101.He was again a victim of injury on the 1979 tour of England. It virtually put his career in jeopardy.
In 1982-83 Jimmy Amarnath made a Muhammad Ali style comeback, simply rising like a phoenix from the Ashes. In Pakistan he played the great Imran Khan with more assurance than any batsman of his time.I mran was the fastest and most lethal bowler in that era and literally broke the spin of the Indian batting. I simply can never forget his glorious technique of Mohinder in counter-attacking Imran, particularly in the 1st and fifth tests. No batsmen played as well facing Imran Khan at his best. He was unlucky to be wrongly given out leg before on four occasions, preventing India from restoring pride in Karachi and saving the third test at Faisalabad. He overshadowed even the great Sunil Gavaskar averaging 18 more. In that series he scored 584 runs at an average of 73.60.
In West Indies in 1983.Amarnath was the ultimate exponent of perfection of batting skill and courage. Mental resilience was taken to regions rarely traversed in sport, reminiscent of a surgeon performing an operation. In my lifetime I saw no batsman negotiate the great West Indies pace quartet or express pace bowling as Mohinder or ‘Jimmy ‘Amarnath did 40 years ago in West Indies. He resembled a boulder withstanding the most blazing storm or an army battalion waging combat in the World war in the most perilous conditions. Amarnath was simply grit, determination and technical skill personified. He took tenacity or relentless spirit to heights almost unscaled. Overall Jimmy aggregated 598 runs at an average of 66.83 on this tour. In my view it was the best batting performance against top pace ever in history of test cricket.
Amarnath simply drove, cut and hooked the West Indies paceman all over the place..At Barbados when scoring 91 and 80 although in a losing cause, Mohinder took combative spirit to scales rarely traversed. In the Bridgetown Test during India's tour of the West Indies in 1982–83, Amarnath had to retire for stitches after being hit on the head. On returning to the game, it was presumed that the great West Indies pace quartet would leave no stone unturned in intimidating Amarnath by bowling a bouncer, and indeed they did so. instead of ducking ,Amarnath relentlessly stood like rock and hooked the ball to the boundary.Arguably those innings were the best ever combined counter attacking efforts waged against express pace, in a single test.
At Trinidad in the 2nd test in the 2nd innings his century retrieved India from the depths of despair. who were 219 runs in the arrears in the 1st innings..At Antigua in the final test, he fittingly ended his tour, with match-saving century, executed in characteristic style. He single-handedly held the mantle like no batsman ever, against sustained or express pace. His head and body positioning and straightness of bat was a lesson for every schoolboy cricketer. Overall Jimmy aggregated 598 runs at an average of 66.83 on this tour. In my view it was the best batting performance against top pace ever in history of test cricket.
In the 1983 Prudential world cup It was Amarnath's dour bating and crafty bowling that won India the title, creating one of Sport's greatest upsets.In the semi-final his bowling tightened the screws on the English batting when they were cruising along. With subtle mastery the sideways movement and accuracy of his slow-medium pace rattled the English batsmen to peg them to a score of a mere 213 runs. Later in a run chase of 214 run s Amarnath's 46 laid the foundation of an Indian win. I can't forget his dancing down the wicket to hit a six. It was an innings executed in the most organised fashion, in the manner of an architect.. In the final against West Indies in a low scoring game his 26 was invaluable, and his spell put the final icing on the cake for India to create a miracle. No person was as much cometh the hour cometh the man. I can never forget the jubilation in the crowds after Amarnath trapped last man Michael Holding. Indian cricket was literally taken to a new dimension, with a spiritual renaissance created within it. .Earlier,Amarnath's 80 in a league game at the Oval against West Indies also took batting prowess to heights rarely scaled.. Praiseworthy that he was voted man of the match in the semi-final and final.
Dramatically his form got a 360 degree reversal on the 1983-84 home series against Pakistan and West Indies. The West Indies paceman chalked out a strategy to time and again penetrated his gate to send the stumps cart wheeling. No better illustration of how in sport the law of averages catches up with you.
In 1984 he again came back with a bang was all about returning to form, when saving India in the 1st test from a humiliating defeat in the 1st test in Pakistan ,after following on..He literally played against thirteen players in that game, with most biased umpiring making many Indian batsman fall prey. Jimmy literally looked like farming in a desert when scoring 41 out of 156 and then in the 2nd innings an unbeaten 101.Later Mohinder was an epitome of consistency in a home series against England in 1984-85, scoring 407 runs at an average of above 58, with 95 as his highest score.
In 1985 in the Benson and Hedges World Cricket championship Jimmy played a major role in shaping India’s triumph. He displayed immaculate skill in adjusting and ability to improvise and was at his best facing the likes of Imran and Hadlee. No batsmen played in such a well organised manner, in that tournament.
In1985-86 in Australia Jimmy e was a model of consistency, scoring a classic 138 at Adelaide and averaging 74.33.. His batting all but won India the series. Brilliantly balanced defence with calculated aggression.
In1986 in England he was not at his best but still displayed mastery at supreme depth in the 3rd test at the Ovals scoring 78.In 1986-87 in a home series against Pakistan Mohinder was hardly at his best when negotiating likes of Imran and Wasim.- apart from a classy 89 .He was past his best in the 1987-88 home series against West Indies or the Reliance World Cup earlier in 1987.


It is noticeable that Amarnath averages much more overseas or away than at home. Amarnath ended his career with 4378 runs in 69 Tests at 42.50. Incredibly, he scored 3008 abroad at 51.86 with nine hundreds while managing just 1370 at 30.44 with two centuries at home. No middle Indian batsmen of his time averaged more away from home in test cricket .In the Caribbean, his collection of 877 runs at 54.81 in nine Tests remains one of the very best. With 14 hundreds, Allan Lamb is the only batsman to have scored more centuries without ever crossing 150. Ironic that Mohinder never registered a mammoth score like Gavaskar,Vishwanath ,Sehwag or Dravid.His medium pace used less and less with time, got him 32 wickets at 55.68 apiece.
In ODIs, Amarnath scored 1924 runs at 30.53 with a strike rate of a rather unremarkable 57.70. He also claimed 46 wickets at 42.84.
Overall arguably Amarnath fell short of true joining the club of the all-time greats, because of facing several breaks, through being dropped by the selectors.He was also a victim of loss of form at crucial junctures. His highest score was only 143 and averaged less than 44...Still at his best he could have sat on the pedestal with the greatest ever batsman, like in 1982-83.In form played an innings in accordance with the given situation as any great batsman.
Imran Khan regarded Mohinder so highly that in his book "All Round View" he went on record to say that in the 1982–83 season, Mohinder was quite simply the best batsman in the world. Imran further went on to state that Mohinder should have played non-stop for India right from his debut in 1969 to the time he retired. (After his debut series in 1969, he had to wait until 1975 to make it into the team).
Jimmy is the perfect example of how Indian cricket administration did scant justice to the potential of a cricketer, even crippling careers. It is so hard to conceive how cricketer like Amarnath was dropped so many times in his career. Ironic that Amarnath one called the selectors ‘As a bunch of jokers.’ in the mid 1980’s.
In their time Mohinder Amarnath and Mohammad Azharuddin fused together would have comprised the perfect batsmen. What better combination than the tenacity and technique of Jimmy with the artistry and elegance of Azhar.In later days Rahul Dravid duplicated Amarnath in many ways.
It is important for Indian cricket that it resurrects a character like ‘Jimmy’ Amarnath, with his unflinching resilience,a most vital weapon for a side.
Harsh Thakor is a Freelance Journalist who has extensively studied Cricket



Global Ambedkarites in deep shock over killing of Buddhist Ambedkarite youth in Nanded

Joint  Ambedkar International Mission and Ambedkar Association of North America statement on killing of an Ambedkarite Buddhist youth for celebrating Dr Ambedkar Jayanti (birth anniversary) in his village on 1st June 2023 in Bondhar Haveli village, Nanded, Maharashtra: *** Every single public event hosted by any social or political organization in Maharashtra is not completed without citing Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and yet an Ambedkarite Buddhist youth, Akshay Bhalerao was brutally murdered for celebrating Dr Ambedkar Jayanti in the village Bondhar, Nanded, Maharashtra by dominant caste goons. Caste Atrocities are common in such villages where the Scheduled Castes and Buddhists are daily humiliated, mocked, or abused with caste slurs and women subjected to sexual violence. 

How this top Maoist leader couldn't extricate completely from the Left adventurist line

By Harsh Thakor  On the 31st of May Katakam Sudarshan, known as Comrade Anand, breathed his last, at the age of 69. Anand was a member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (Maoists) and an important leader of the revolutionary movement of India.

Discussion on making school education meaningful to vulnerable communities

ActionAid note on workshop to boost National Curriculum Framework operations: *** Leading educationists and activists striving to make education meaningful to vulnerable communities gathered in Delhi to discuss the National Curriculum Framework for School Education (NCFSE). Acting in response to the call of the NCF Steering Committee appointed by the Ministry of Education, Government of India, ActionAid Association had organised the meeting to gather feedback on the draft NCFSE. This is part of ActionAid Association’s commitment to promote inclusive and gender-responsive education. The two-day national workshop titled ‘NCF Perspectives: Seeking Feedback on National Curriculum Framework (NCF)’ on May 30 and 31, 2023, was held at India International Centre, New Delhi. The workshop aimed to ensure a structured approach to gathering feedback from key stakeholders and enhancing their active participation in shaping the response sought by the Government of India. Stakeholders representing e

Abrogation of Art 370: Increasing alienation, relentless repression, simmering conflict

One year after the abrogation by the Central Government of Art. 370 in Kashmir, what is the situation in the Valley. Have the promises of peace, normalcy and development been realised? What is the current status in the Valley? Here is a detailed note by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties , “Jammu & Kashmir: One Year after Abrogation of Art. 370: Increasing Alienation, Relentless Repression, Simmering Conflict”:

Release of dabang neta: Rule of law can't be allowed to be slave to political rhetoric

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  When we look to politicians for solutions and politics as the 'final solution' for every evil then we are disappointed most of the time. In politics, we knowingly or unknowingly become part of the propaganda tool of the ruling elite which exists everywhere across different castes. We often provide issues and talk about them in binaries which suit our elites. The minorities among the marginalised who have no political space and representation rarely get heard by these majoritarian parties whose agenda remain power communities. Every political party in today's time is following the 'successful' formula of 'democracy' which is keeping the 'powerful' 'jaatis' with them leaving aside the marginalised one. The BJP started this but yes they cobbled together all other communities too through a diverse narrative.

J&K RTI activist denied opportunity to address audience, bring forward critical issues

Statement by Er. Irfan Banka, Founder of J&K RTI Foundation and convener of the Nalae Ferozpora Bachav Movement, regarding the incident of official misconduct during the My Town My Pride Jan Abhiyan Program and communication to Raj Bhavan: *** Er. Irfan Banka, a prominent RTI Activist and advocate, has come forward to address an incident of misconduct that occurred during the My Town My Pride Jan Abhiyan Program held at Mugam Town Hall in  Budgam. Additionally, Er. Irfan Banka has communicated the matter to Raj Bhavan, seeking appropriate action. During the event, Er. Irfan Banka was denied the opportunity to address the audience and bring forward critical issues concerning the people and services in the community, including waste management, traffic management, and the achievement of sustainable development goals. The incident involved the Additional Registrar Co-operative Kashmir, who not only prevented Er. Irfan Banka from speaking but also subjected him to public humiliation. E

Why are 17 Indian cos, including Sterlite, blacklisted by Norway bank

By Venkatesh Nayak* Readers may recall the gory incidents that took place at Thoothukudi (Tuticorin) in Tamil Nadu in the southern part of India on 22 May, 2018. Thirteen protesters died on the spot when the police opened fire to disperse an assemblage of thousands of local residents and representatives of civil society groups. They were protesting against the adverse environmental impact of the industrial operations of Sterlite Copper which runs a copper smelter plant in the area. Accusations against the company have ranged from polluting local water resources to plans for expanding the installed capacity of the plant without the necessary environmental clearances. A ground report published in The Wire recently, mentions the decision taken by Norges Bank a few years ago to not invest funds from Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) in Sterlite “due to an unacceptable risk of complicity in current and future severe environmental damage and systematic human rights violations

Sengol imbroglio suggests reason why Modi, BJP don't respect modern Indian history

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  The new parliament building opened on February 28. It looks it is not the Parliament but part of #Pratinidhisabhas ' started by earstwhile #princelystates in India. The #BJP for long has been acting as if India is a #Kingdom and Modi ji the new #King of India. Even at the coronations of Kings, you find a large number of people, and dignitaries but look at the opening ceremony we have only one face as if he build everything. Is it the dream of a republic.

Danger ahead: Smartphones making teens sexually smart, but mentally disturbed

By Harasankar Adhikari  We live in a digitally globalised society. Bombarded consumerism and imitation of foreign cultures and practises reshape our everyday lives. Life choices and lifestyles are the driving forces of modernity at present. People of almost all ages are within this realm and rhythm of consumerism for happiness.

Cave of Spleen - a feminist perspective: Status of women in early 18th century England

The Cave of Spleen: Aubrey Beardsley's illustration for Pope's “The Rape of the Lock” By Pragya Ranjan  "The Rape of the Lock" by Alexander Pope published in 1712 is a mock-heroic narrative which satirically glorifies trivial incident of cutting of locks of protagonist Belinda. This poem was written in the Augustan Era (1660-1784) which is marked by the period of scientific reason and rationality, whose effect can be seen on the writers of those times. This timeline is particularly important to analyse the episode of the Cave of Spleen.