Down memory lane

It was a dream meeting. The sons of India's first pair of fast bowlers, Mahomed Nissar and Amarsinh Ladha, had a chance meeting at the Cricket Club of India (CCI) on October 18.

G. VISWANATH

It was a dream meeting. The sons of India's first pair of fast bowlers, Mahomed Nissar and Amarsinh Ladha, had a chance meeting at the Cricket Club of India (CCI) on October 18.

Waqar and Vijaysinh Amarsinh Nakum during their meeting at the Cricket Club of India. — Pic. SHASHI ASHIWAL-

Vijaysinh Amarsinh Nakum and Waqar would remember long this meeting. Those who have seen the pictures of Mahomed Nissar will not miss the resemblance of his son, Waqar. He is tall, 6.1, and has a strong body. Comparatively, Vijaysinh, 20 years elder to Waqar (48), is tall but not so heavy in built. They hugged each other. "Aap mere bhai hai. Aap abh mere chathi me aur dil me hai,'' said Vijaysinh softly.

Waqar was eight years old when his father died at Lahore on March 11, 1963 and Vijaysinh was a four-year-old tiny tot, when his father died at Rajkot on May 21, 1940. Nissar was 52 and Amarsinh was just 30 years old when their fathers departed this world, leaving the cricketing fraternity in grief. Their sons grew up listening to fascinating tales of how their fathers hunted in pair in England during India's first Test match at Lord's in June 1932.

Nissar bowled Percy Holmes for six and Herbert Sutcliffe for three and England's opening pair, which had put on 555 for Yorkshire in a County match ten days before, was back in the pavilion. India lost that Test by 158 runs, but the mighty England was bowled out for 259 and 275, Nissar taking six wickets and Amarsinh, four. Apart from Holmes and Sutcliffe, Nissar took the wickets of Leslie Ames, Robert Robins and F. R. Brown and Amarsinh got the wickets of Wally Hammond, Bill Bowes, Sutcliffe and Ames.

In all Nissar played six Tests, captured 25 wickets at 28.28 and Amarsinh starred in seven Tests and captured 28 wickets at 30.64. In the first Test played at the Bombay Gymkhana in 1933-34, Nissar bowled Douglas Jardine. Three years later, the same pair opened the attack for India in three Tests and took 22 wickets. Amar Singh took six for 35 at Lord's following Nissar's five for 93. Waqar and Vijaysinh were here to receive awards for their fathers' deeds at Lord's.

Nissar had the ability to swing and make the ball cut off the pitch; many England batsmen reckoned Amarsinh as a dangerous bowler. During India's tour of England in 1932, Amarsinh took 111 wickets, while Nisar took 71. Historian Vasant Raiji, when introduced to Waqar and Vijaysinh said: "I have seen your fathers bowl in the Pentangulars, Quadrangulars and the first Test at the Bombay Gymkhana. India has not found another pair since. I knew Amar personally well. But your (Waqar) father was a giant, taller than you and big made,'' he told them.

Both, Waqar and Vijaysinh, have not seen their fathers bowl and have come to know of their fame only from the clippings and from their contemporaries. "Once I saw my father stand and bowl in an exhibition match at Quetta, otherwise I have heard about him only from Dr. Jehangir Khan and my mother Hamida. She always used to talk about Maharaja of Patiala, Majaraja of Vizianagram and the senior Nawab of Pataudi. In fact I am keen to meet Nawab of Pataudi Jr.,'' said Waqar, who holds an American passport.

Waqar played cricket, but opted for tennis. "I did not have a godfather then, in my case I needed my father. I went on a tennis scholarship to USA and now I encourage my son Mahir to play tennis. He's 19 and is playing the ITF Satellite events. We have three big clippings books. My sisters have grabbed it. I also have a Westend watch inscribed on it `Holmes b Nissar 6, Sutcliffe b Nissar 3' as a piece of memorabilia,'' said Waqar, an IT professional, who spent 25 years in America working at Wall Street and Fortune 500 companies, but is now employed, like his father was, with Pakistan Railways.

Vijaysinh gave a brief account of L. Ramji and Amarsinh to Waqar and explained how the brothers came to be known as `Pace Terrors.' He also presented a small handbook containing excerpts from Bhagavat Geeta and sketches of L. Ramji and Amarsinh. "I played all sports, but gave up cricket for the sake of `roti.' My sons did not play cricket. It's only after reading articles on my father that I came to know that he was a great fast bowler and famous. I have four good pictures of Nissar and Amarsinh. The pictures refresh my memory about them. They were made for each other in cricket,'' said Vijaysinh.

The last time Waqar saw a cricket match in Pakistan was at Lahore when Australia and Sri Lanka clashed in the 1996 World Cup final. Vijaysinh has distanced himself from cricket. The two spent an hour together, enquiring about their families and promising to keep in touch.