“As dangerous an opening bowler as I have ever seen, coming off the pitch like the crack of doom,” – England great, Wally Hammond
“There is no better bowler in the world today than Amar Singh,“- Len Hutton, quoted in 1970.
If there was anything to gauge about this cricket extraordinaire from these few sentences, it would be that Nakum Amar Singh Ladha was a man in a league of his own.
From being India’s first fast bowler and all-rounder to being the first Indian to receive a Test cap, Singh was also the first Indian to ever hit a six and score a test fifty, that too in India’s debut test match against England.
Born in British India, Amar Singh was an inborn talent fuelled by the cricketing prowess that ran in his family. For India, he along with Mohammad Nissar formed a formidable fast-bowling duo, a lethal pair known as one of the best in the 1930s.
He played first class cricket for nine years, and was the first cricketer to take 100 scalps in the Ranji Trophy. He managed to take 14 10 – wicket hauls in first-class cricket, and was also was the first ever Indian to partake in the Lancashire league, where he successfully spanned in a career for Colne, teeming with achievements.
Not only this, but the star all – rounder held a bowling record for 18 years, for his 7/86 in Madras against England. Coincidentally, the record was broken at the same venue against the same team almost two decades later. Interestingly enough, Singh held onto the record for best figures by an Indian pacer for 46 years, and it was broken by Kapil Dev with his 7/56, again at Madras.
Singh played seven tests for India before the Second World War. He took 28 wickets in these matches, two 5 wicket hauls and a total of 292 runs amassed in 14 innings played.
However, his career came to an end abruptly in the most heart breaking manner, as the cricketing world lost a gem to typhoid in 1939, a time when Singh was merely 29 years old.
Whether it was as a bowler known to cause immense trouble for batsmen, or as a lower order batsman who anchored several of his teams’ innings, Amar Singh excelled in every part of the game, and despite destiny withholding him from continuing his exceptional journey, he was indeed a Test legend whose name shall forever be etched in history, for his undying contribution to Indian cricket.