Lala Amarnath Bharadwaj, the father figure of Indian Cricket was the first batsman ever to score a century for India in Test Cricket. He was independent India's first Cricket Captain and captained India in the first Test Series win against Pakistan in 1952.
He played only 3 Test Matches before the world war and thus lost all his prime years as India played no official Test matches. During this time he amassed around 10,000 runs with 30 hundreds in first class cricket which included teams from Australia and England featuring most prominent Test players . After the world war he played another 21 Test Matches for India. One of the finest all rounder India ever produced. He later became Chairman, Senior Selection Committee, BCCI and also served the game as a commentator and expert. He was responsible in grooming many youngsters like Chandu borde, ML. Jaisimha, Jasu Patel etc. who played for India . His sons Surinder & Mohinder also became Test players for the country. His grandson Digvijay is a current first class player.
He was also independent India's first Test captain, leading the team on a tour of Australia in 1947-1948. The Government of India awarded him the civilian honour of the Padma Bhushan in 1991.
Amarnath was born in Kapurthala, Punjab, and was raised in Lahore. He played his debut match against England in 1933 on the Bombay Gymkhana grounds in South Bombay. Amarnath also played for the Hindus in the Bombay Quadrangular. Aside from being a tenacious batsman, Lala Amarnath was also a bowler of some repute and was the only bowler to dismiss Donald Bradman hit wicket.
Amarnath was controversially sent back from the 1936 tour of England by the captain, the Maharajkumar of Vizianagram, for "indiscipline". Amarnath and others allege it was due to politics. Vizzy, the Maharajkumar of Vizianagram, was named the captain for Indian cricket team for the 1936 tour of England, a post that he secured after lobbying and manipulation. Unfortunately, his desperately poor captaincy on the field resulted in even the normally reserved British press commenting on it. Some of the senior players in the squad, including Lala Amarnath, C. K. Nayudu and Vijay Merchant, were critical of Vizzy's playing abilities and captaincy, and the team was split between those who supported and criticised the captain. The low point in the tour occurred during India's match against Minor Counties at Lord's. Lala Amarnath had been nursing a back injury during the game. Vizzy had Amarnath pad up, but didn't put him in to bat as a succession of other batsmen were sent in ahead of him, which prevented Amarnath from resting his injury. Amarnath was finally put in to bat at the end of the day. Visibly angry after returning to the dressing room, he threw his kit into his bag and muttered in Punjabi, "I know what is transpiring". Vizzy took this as an affront, and conspired with team manager Major Jack Brittain-Jones to have Lala Amarnath sent back from the tour without playing the first test match. It is also alleged that in the 1st Test against the England, Vizzy offered Mushtaq Ali a gold watch to run out Vijay Merchant.
Test Hundred : 118 v England at Bombay Gymkhana, Mumbai, Dec 15-18, 1933
5-wicket haul : 5/118 v England at Lord's, Jun 22-25, 1946
5-wicket haul : 5/96 v England at Old Trafford Cricket Ground, Manchester, Jul 20-23, 1946
Lala Amarnath was the captain of the Indian team that toured Australia in 1947-1948. When the Partition of India took place in August 1947, Amarnath and his family had to flee the city to escape a Muslim mob. He lived in Patiala in the Indian state of Punjab till 1957, when he moved to the capital, Delhi. Lala Amarnath had received his education at Aligarh Muslim University. Amarnath is widely respected for reaching out to bridge the divide between players and fans of India and Pakistan, caused by political tensions between the two countries. Amarnath as captain was complimented for being straightforward and aggressive, and possessing great tactical acumen. Under his leadership, India won its first-ever Test against the Pakistan cricket team in Delhi in 1952, and went on to win the series 2-1. Amarnath also managed the team when it toured Pakistan in 1954-55.
His sons Mohinder and Surinder also played cricket for India and another son Rajinder played first-class cricket. Throughout his twilight years, Amarnath was considered a living legend of Indian cricket.