Amol Muzumdar: 'As a cricketer I always felt that you have to be very versatile'
By his own right, Mumbai cricketer Amol Muzumdar is an absolute legend. The 41 year old, who represented Mumbai with distinction in domestic cricket, never got selected for the Indian team. This remains a mystery to many, as he holds a number of records in first-class cricket. He managed to score 11167 runs at an average of 48.13 from 171 first-class matches, 9202 of which came in the Ranji Trophy. He is second to only Wasim Jaffer in the all-time leading scorers in the Ranji Trophy. Not only this, on his first-class debut, he scored 260 against Haryana at Faridabad in a Ranji Trophy match in the 1993-1994 season. This is a record for any player on their debut in first-class cricket.
While his contemporaries Sachin, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and others went on to make a name for themselves on the international stage, Muzumdar never got a look in after being named as the vice-captain for the U-19 team on their tour of England in 1994. However, we went on to plunder opposition bowling attacks for a long time for his team Mumbai and later Assam and Andhra, until he hung up his boots in 2014.
He recently sat down with Bcci.tv to talk on the art of batting, the pride that comes with playing for Mumbai and what drove him to become such a special player.
Amol was a one-time schoolmate of Sachin Tendulkar, and they were also both coached by Ramakant Achrekar. He was fortunate to have been coached well at an early age, and it was the lessons he learnt early that held him in good stead going forward. He said, “At a very young age (15-16), I happened to speak to Frank Tyson sir and he told me that when you go in next (time) to bat, and if you are successful on that particular day (then) keep a note of things and you will find a formula you followed throughout that day and that formula is your success form. You just have to find certain things and I think that is the key to being successful over the years; to find that formula early and to keep repeating that formula every time you get to the field.”
He had a very fluid batting style, known over the years for his timing rather than his aggression. In his first-class career, he managed 30 centuries and 60 fifties, with his knock on debut remaining the best innings he ever played. “For me batting was very simple. It was all about the head positioning and with it everything else fell in its place. It’s also important that the feet (are in good position) and everything again relates to the head position. If your feet are not in a better position to play a shot, then everything else (wouldn’t be synchronized). It’s a chain reaction - it starts from head and then feet and then hand. I feel there are only three things in batting. I tried to keep my feet position correctly which followed the chain reaction of feet and head.” he added.
He had a rollercoaster ride as a cricketer. While representing Mumbai for most of his career, after not being selected for the 2009 Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament, Amol believed he needed a change of scene and left Mumbai after 16 years to represent Assam. He had the opportunity to play at a number of grounds, from the Wankhede, to the Feroz Shah Kotla. He even used to practice at the Khar Gymkhana on an astro turf to get used to a bigger bounce on the wicket. “As a cricketer I always felt that you have to be very versatile. I believe it more strongly now that I have been to places all over the world watching and playing cricket. You have to cater to different pitches and conditions that are offered to you on a wide variety of pitches across the country. It maybe a slow turner or a rank turner, there are different kinds of turners and there are different kinds of pitches with seam movement. To be a good solid performer over a consistent period of time, you have to be technically strong” he added.
He had a number of shots in the book, but there was one shot he loved more than most. “The cover drive, but I knew I was in good form when I played the on drive. When you play cover drive, yes everything is going fine, but I knew if I hit an on drive, I am in good form. It is again because of the head positioning; you cannot play an on drive unless you have a good head position. When in good form, your head position is correct and I knew that when I hit an on drive it is all co-related. When you get an on drive, you know that everything is correct.” he added.
Muzumdar remains connected with the game even after his retirement, delving into coaching as well as commentary. He intends to stay connected with cricket for the rest of his life as it is being on the field that provides him with maximum happiness.