Remembering India's Bowling Captains
It is often said that cricket is a batsman’s game. Since the sport of cricket spread to the English colonies, along with the passion, what was also infused was the aristrocatic legacy of the game.
The honour and pride associated with holding the bat, and the elitist connotations attached to the very act itself have been passed down the generations. From the colonial days, when ‘lowly Brown servants’ were ordered to bowl to their white Sahibs, to the gully cricket days where kids fought on a daily basis to get the opportunity to bat, the one who wields the bat has always been elevated to higher pedestals.
These complicit prejudices have also been reflected in the selection of the team captain over the years. Most of India’s cricket captains, in both Test and ODI, have been batsmen. Apart from Kapil Dev, all of the other widely adored and longest serving captains have been, by default, batsmen.
Here is an ode to the bowling captains of Indian cricket.
1. Ghulam Ahmed – India’s first bowling captain, Ghulam Ahmed was an offspiner from Hyderabad. His right arm off-break bowling was described by Wisden as “highest world class” on his days. He grabbed a total of 68 wickets in the 22 Tests he played for India, apart from the 407 wickets in 98 First class matches.
As the first bowling captain, he led India to a draw against New Zealand in 1956.
Post retirement, he served as the manager for Indian Team on their tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1967-68, and as the BCCI secretary for many years.
Ahmed, who passed away in 1998, was the uncle of Pakistani captain Asif Iqbal, and great uncle of ace Indian tennis star Sania Mirza.