One thing that Amol Mazumdar always missed, the element of luck. Always dedicated and pursued his talent with passion and sincerity. – Sachin Tendulkar
One nation, one sport and a billion contenders – that’s Indian cricket for you. Every morning, every city in India witnesses a crowd of people to play the game they love. But how many of them make a mark in real life? Not many. Most give up the game after a certain age while the rest are forced to choose a different profession. However, there is a rare breed who devote their entire life to the game without caring for the recognition they deserved.
During the infamous 661-run partnership between Tendulkar & Kambli in the Harris Shield trophy, all eyes were on the two. But not so far away in the stands, padded up and ready in case a wicket fell, was another 13-year-old. That boy was Amol Muzumdar. While Sachin and Kambli went on to play for India, Muzumdar’s career panned out exactly like that Harris Shield innings, padded up on the sidelines, waiting for an opportunity.
Muzumdar arrived on the Ranji circuit with a bang, scoring 260 in his maiden game in 1993-94 breaking the world record for the highest score made on first class debut, a record that still stands. At the time of retirement, he had the record for being the highest run-getter in the Ranji Trophy, later passed only by Wasim Jaffer. He amassed 11,167 runs from 171 first-class matches, which included 30 centuries.
Muzumdar, not many have seen him play, and thus his reputation is often enhanced by glorified tales. But those who have witnessed him in action, are quite sure that he was better than many cricketers who have featured for the country. His numbers are flattering, and only in deeper introspection does it become obvious that he was the classical ‘big match player’. While Muzumdar was left disappointed in his pursuit to achieve the ultimate goal of representing the country, he went on to become a domestic legend, the greatest Indian batsman never to have played for the country.
Across the world, there are those domestic giants who fail to translate their success at the international level. And then, there are some who fare much better at the highest level despite having modest records in domestic cricket. But what about those who never get an opportunity to play for their country despite scoring tons of runs and taking hundreds of wickets in first-class cricket? Muzumdar is one of the prime examples of the latter, not just in India, but world over.
For all his talent and technique, Muzumdar was a victim of bad timing. After being in the same school team as Sachin and Kambli, he was trying to break into an Indian team that had possibly the most talented batting line-ups of our times. I’m sure if it were up to us, we wouldn’t change a thing. Sachin, Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman were a joy to watch and deserved the Big 4 status that they achieved. We cannot, even for a second, imagine that Indian cricket team without any single one of them.
The man did no wrong, but for the fact that he was at his peak in an era dominated by the ‘Big 4’ in Indian cricket. Muzumdar though leaves behind a proud record in Ranji cricket and joins the pantheon of Mumbai batting legends.