Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Amol Muzumdar are all names of cricketers of a particular era. If you ask any layman, he wouldn’t come up with any distinction and would say like the first four, Muzumdar must have played for India. But, the bitter truth is that Muzumdar never got to play for India and always remained a domestic giant plying his trade for Mumbai Ranji side for close to two decades. Cricket is a simple game played by bat and ball and if you want to get selected then it is pretty simple, you have to score the highest amount of runs or pick the most number of wickets and Muzumdar did this umpteen times, but still fell short and never made his international debut.
Cricket is like a religion in India, and especially in Mumbai, which is the hub of cricket in India. Every youngster dreams of playing for the tri-colour and Muzumdar was no different. He was also coached by the legendary Ramakant Achrekar and from early on had the game to play cricket at a senior level. Muzumdar made his first-class debut and smashed 260 against Haryana, which is still a world record scoring most runs on debut and set the cat amongst the pigeons with his craftsmanship. Any player would tell you that if you start well then half the job is done and Muzumdar must have thought of better things in future after his debut knock.
Life replicates cricket in many ways and that knock proved to be a curse for Muzumdar because he never played at the highest level and competition was intense during the mid-1990s and Muzumdar missed by a whisker. The likes of Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman, Ganguly became part of fabulous four and became the face of Indian cricket. If you can’t open the door then you have to break it down and Muzumdar like a mad scientist continued to score runs and remained hopeful that his time will come. The ironic thing about Muzumdar’s career is that he is somewhat associated with Sachin Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli’s record partnership of 664 runs in school cricket as he was the next man slated to bat, but his chance didn’t come and rather tragically his chance to don Indian jersey didn’t come either.
The grind of domestic cricket can get to you, but Muzumdar didn’t whine or complain and scored 11,167 runs in 171 first-class matches and was part of Mumbai teams which used to win Ranji Trophy for fun. Indian culture is not like Australian one; where selector sits down with a player and tells him what he needs to do get selected, but Indian selectors or management never spoke to Muzumdar about what he needed to do. The resilient Mumbai player at one point of time was holding the record of scoring most number of runs in Ranji Trophy, but he would happily trade this for just to play for India even for one match.
What is destiny and luck? It’s debatable and subjective, but for Muzumdar his time never came due to variety of reasons. If you work hard and put everything there, then you hope for the best and Muzumdar must have hoped for representing India and breaking all sorts of records. The name Amol Muzumdar will not ring any bells for the current generation, but he was a player whose career didn’t take off and it would be fair to say that destiny deprived him of playing for India.