11 Facts about Polly Umrigar: The Superhuman Indian batsman

Hobbs And UmrigarThose who have seen former Indian skipper Polly Umrigar bat will probably say that he is the best batsman produced by Indian cricket. However, a fabulous and elegant cricketing talent was surrounded by a series of wars and armed conflicts between nations within the vast expanse of the subcontinent. However, the late Polly Umrigar wasted no time with the cricket bat, ensuring that he managed 59 Tests in his 12-year career. A great servant of Indian cricket, here are a few facts about Polly Umrigar: The superhuman Indian batsman.

1. Birth:

Pahlan Ratanji Umrigar “Polly Umrigar” was born on the 28th of March 1926 at Bombay or Solapur (As it was known at the time), Maharashtra.

2. Early Life:

Umrigar was born into a Parsi family with Zoroastrian roots. He made his first-class debut for Parsis at the age of 18 in the Bombay Pentangular in 1944.

3. Hands in other sports:

He also played hockey and football competitively.

4. An Indian Hero:

The 1940s and 50s saw an induction into the cricketing world for most of the countries in the Indian subcontinent. Umrigar almost always performed well with the bat each time the Indians got a terrible hammering. Despite this, when he retired, he held the most important records – most Tests, most runs, most hundreds. In fact, his records stood from 1962 to 1978 when they were broken by a certain Sunil Gavaskar.

5. Truman’s cricketing philosophy:

Although Polly Umrigar faced up to cricket’s best Fred Truman on many occasions, he had most of the desirable qualities of a batsman that was advocated by Truman himself. “It’s a sideways game” he used to say. Such was Umrigar’s batting prowess that the elegance came in the technique he exhibited. Indian journalist Partab Ramchand wrote: “A burly six-footer, Umrigar was a commanding figure at the crease – whether batting, bowling, directing operations as captain or standing in his usual position at first slip. Umrigar excelled in full blooded drives but he could also hook and pull powerfully.”

6. Resignation of captaincy:

Despite his on-field prowess, Umrigar was a hard man off the field. He was involved in several off-field spats. Despite his successes as skipper, he stepped down as skipper following a misunderstanding with the BCCI at the time.

7. 5 Wickets and a century:

Apart from Vinoo Mankand, Polly Umrigar achieved the distinction of taking five wickets and scoring a hundred runs in Tests.

8. The Innings of his life:

Polly Umrigar’s best innings came against England at home. He scored only 113 runs in the first four Tests against a weak England side at home a year later. He was dropped from the fifth Test but was included in the last minute due to an injury to Hemu Adhikari. Going in at No.7, he made 130 not out as India won their first ever Test match. Though the bowling was not of a very high quality, Umrigar considered it the best innings of his life.

9. Padma Shri award:

In 1962, Umrigar was awarded the Padma Shri award for his services to Indian Cricket. He also won the CK Nayudu trophy in 1988/89. The national Under-15 championship is contested for the Polly Umrigar Trophy.

10. The CK Nayudu tradition:

A former journalist, the late KN Prabhu once said, “”He was a link between two generations. Theoretically, he belonged to that assembly of cricketers of the thirties, but in practice, his cricket was conditioned by the hard, professional approach of the immediate post-independence years.”

11. Later life and death:

Umrigar served as manager for the Indian cricket team and accompanied them on tours of Australia and New Zealand in 1970’s. He also served as the chief selector from 1978-1982. Umrigar was diagnosed with lymph cancer and underwent chemotherapy in mid-2006. He succumbed to the disease, dying on the 7th of November 2006.

Published on cricktracker

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