India has been playing test cricket for 79 years after the first test at Lords in 1932. Many Indian test cricketers burst on the scene only to fade away after a short time. Some of them were done in by bad luck and some by the policies of the cricket board and the selection committee. It is worth examining who these cricketers were. They are part of the lost generation of Indian cricket. If properly nurtured some of them may have had a longer shelf life.
Abbas Ali Baig
Abbas Ali Baig
Here was cricketer who hailed from Hyderabad and was a student at Oxford University in 1958-59. The Indian was touring England at that time under DK Gaekwad. The sad part was that the main batsman Polly Umrigar was off color and the other main striker Vijay Manjreker was injured and could not play. Indians needed a man to bolster the batting and they decided to induct Baig in the 4th test against the MCC at the oval.
Baig made a sensational test debut and in the second innings faced up to the bowling pace battery of Fred Truman and Brian Statham with confidence. Seeing Baig bat with gusto, the veteran Polly Umrigar also found his bearings and the two hit centuries. Baig was run out for 112, a magnificent century on debut. But after this tour Baig faded away and except for a series against Australia he could not click. He was in prime form when selected for the 1971 tour of the MCC but didn't get to play a single test. It was a sad end to a promising career. However he will remain the only cricketer who was kissed by a lovely girl in a skirt as he helped India draw the third test against Australia in 1960.
AG Kirpal Singh
He was a test player from Tamil Nadu and played for the erstwhile Madras state. He was a Sikh and the son of AG Ram Singh who had settled down in Madras. He made a sensational debut against New Zealand at Hyderabad in 1955-56. He partnered the veteran Polly Umrigar in a big stand. While Umrigar hit 223, Kirpal hit 100 not out when the innings was closed.
However after this innings Kirpal failed to make a mark and though on a return to test team hit a superb 53 against Wes Hall and Roy Gilchrest at Madras in the 4th test against the West Indies. Kirpal just after the century against New Zealand converted to Christianity and cut his hair. Many devout Sikhs feel that was the reason for his down fall. The fact is that Kirpal Singh slowly faded away. His last test was in 1964 against Bobby Simpsons Australian team when in his last innings he was bowled by McKenzie for 1.
He was the elder son of the legendry Lala Amarnath and elder brother of Mohinder Amarnath. Surender made a sensational debut against New Zealand in 1976 under Gavaskar and promptly hit 124 at Auckland. It was a glorious century, but after that on the subsequent tour of the West Indies he was suspect against genuine pace. He did make a sporadic comeback twice but again went into oblivion. He was also not much of a success against Pakistan when India toured that country in 1978.
He was a player from Bombay. But the selectors were not fair with him and Kenny played urender Amarnathonly 3 test matches, all against Australia. But he batted admirable against Richie Benaud's team on their tour of India during 1958-59. Kenny partnered Baig in the Bombay test to help India to a draw. He also batted well in the 5th test at Calcutta when he hit 62. But the selectors never gave him another chance and he continued to play for Bombay but did not get another look in.
He was a cricket player from Gujarat. He came into Th test team against Pakistan and batting at no 8 hit 110. He was a fluent stroke maker and continued to play cricket for Gujarat in the Ranji trophy. Shodan was inexplicably dropped from the team after this century. Much later he mentioned that the selection committee was biased against him. He must be the only test player to be dropped after hitting century on debut. But that is Indian cricket with all its vagaries
Pathan burst as a medium pace swing bowler with a bang. Earlier he swung the ball and had the distinction of taking a hat trick against Pakistan when the Indian team had toured that country with Dravid as captain. But inexplicably Irfan lost his swing and sting and has slowly gone out of reckoning of the Indian team. He has also lost his pace is a mere trundle. He is another player who has gone to seed despite promising much. His batting was also no rabbit, but all in all Irfan Pathan is now out of reckoning of a place in the Indian test team
AG Milkha Singh
He was the younger brother of Kirpal Singh. He came on the national scene with a string of magnificent scores in the Ranji trophy while playing for Madras. In 1962 he was India's most promising batsman. Earlier on a tour of Pakistan with the Indian young team m he had hit 3 centuries.
Milkha got his chance against Pakistan and the MCC in 1960 and 1962. But somehow bad luck dodged him and he could not consolidate his position in the test team People do talk of his 35 against Pakistan in 1961 in the 5th test at Delhi. The selectors were also guilty in not giving him any more opportunity, as in those days the selection was based on the quota system.
There are many other cricket players who made a splash but then just faded away. There was V Subbramaniam ( Madras), VV Kumar( Madras), BP Patel( Karnataka) and Ashok Mankad( Bombay) also, but they all come in the category of also ran.Cricket is a demanding game and along with talent luck is another ingradiant.Lastly the selection committee has its own axe to grind.