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Blame it on fate or petty politics

Makarand Waingankar

Some of the players surely merited more chances to shine at the international level

The irony of Indian cricket is that not many talented cricketers did justice to the talent they exhibited.

Call it fate or a combination of crazy factors that run cricket in this country, many promising cricketers weren't handled properly or were dropped without any reason.

T.E. Srinivasan is perhaps one such unsung hero. He was immensely gifted. Bowlers were at his feet when he got going, and his game was based on pure science.

The art of batsmanship ran in his veins. To him it was a natural process, yet he played only one Test.

Then there were others like Hanumant Singh (207 first class matches 12,338 runs), Ramesh Saxena (149 first class matches 8,155 runs), A.G. Milkha Singh (88 first class matches 4,324 runs), Ambar Roy (132 first class matches 7,163 runs), Surinder Amarnath (145 first class matches 8,175 runs) who didn't get to play Test cricket for a longer duration.

Connoisseur's delight

Hanumant Singh was a batsman of very high calibre. He was a connoisseur's delight. Not known to praise any player that easily, Vijay Manjrekar would say he felt happy at the non-striker's end watching Hanumant Singh bat.

His knock of 68 against the Australians in 1964 at Chepauk was described by Manjrekar as a gem.

A batsman who scored a century on debut and showed a lot of promise, he fell prey to politics when he was declared unfit for the 1967-68 tour of Australia.

Whereas in Saxena's case he got to play a Test as an opener in the first innings and was asked to bat at seven in the second innings of the Leeds Test in the 1967 series. A clear case of mishandling a player.

Saxena was a very good timer of the ball and would find gaps in the field at will.

Even on a turning track he would either dance down the pitch or play some brilliant wristy shots off the backfoot, against the likes of Bedi and Shivalkar.

He had a great career ahead of him. That he was not given more chances at the international level was not his fault.

A prodigy

A.G. Milkha Singh was another prodigy who was too good at domestic level but couldn't convert his talent into performance at the international level.

To him stroking the ball in the middle was like taking a knock in the net. He gauged the situation so well that every time he got going one thought he would hit bowlers all over the park.

Another left-hander of tremendous potential was Ambar Roy. His timing of the ball was impeccable. He would caress the ball. To him timing was all that mattered.

He was very elegant and graceful in his stroke-play. Equally good on both sides of the wicket, he ought to have played more Tests.

And Surinder Amarnath was a left-hander who, when in the mood, would make batting look very simple.

He scored a century on Test debut against New Zealand at Auckland but later on the tour of West Indies and Australia he failed.

If one analyses the performances of these batsmen, they were excellent at the domestic level.

Some of them surely merited more chances to shine at the international level.

Blame it on fate or petty regional politics, they never got their claim to fame. Such is the ephemeral nature of success in Indian cricket, which depends not just on real talent and performance.

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