October 15, 2000

A dedicated cricketer who never got his due

There are cricketers who, despite an outstanding domestic record, have not had the good fortune of representing the country even once. And the name of Amarjeet Kaypee, who announced his retirement from first class cricket today, would perhaps figure at the top of this list. A tally of 7623 runs in the Ranji Trophy, the highest ever aggregate notched up by any batsman, 27 centuries, 900 plus runs with five hundreds one season followed by 800 plus runs with three centuries the next season, the only batsman in Ranji Trophy history to score 150 plus in two innings of the same match. What more can a batsman do to command the attention of the national selectors? And yet there were never any reports of the stocky right handed batsman being even discussed at selection committee meetings. There have been many cricketers who have received a raw deal from a jaundiced selectorial eye and Kaypee must consider himself very unlucky in this regard.

But one wonders whether Kaypee would take such things seriously. In this commercial age, cricket, for him, is a game to be enjoyed. He always loved playing the game, notching up his tally of runs, his centuries and double centuries and helping Haryana to do well in the national competition. He was the star of the State's maiden triumph in 1990-91. That was the year he scored 940 runs at an average of 85.45 with five centuries. This included knocks of 152 and 173 in the quarterfinal against Uttar Pradesh. The next season he followed this up with 812 runs at an average of 101.75. With Ajay Jadeja he added 405 runs for the third wicket against Services, the record for this wicket in the national competition, Kaypee' share being 200.

Jalandhar born Kaypee began his first class career for Punjab in 1980-81. He did reasonably well for five seasons but his career really blossomed when he shifted to Haryana in 1986-87. In his first season, he scored an unbeaten 210 against Delhi, which remained his highest score in first class cricket. His good form continued and then came those two big seasons in the early nineties.

The fact that he was not considered for national selection did not deter Kaypee from continuing to make runs at the first class level. In his own inimitable manner he rendered yeomen service to Haryana and North Zone. Basically Kaypee's batsmanship was based on an orthodox style. His sturdy build meant that power was always going to be an important factor in his batting approach but actually there was a touch of elegance too as he cut and drove effortlessly. A largely self taught cricketer, he was also capable of playing unorthodox strokes in the limited overs version of the game.

But really what marked Kaypee's batting, apart from his sound technique, was his concentration and application. And his insatiable appetite for runs made him the despair of bowlers. The bigger the stage, the better his performance. A dedicated cricketer, always eager to improve his game, Kaypee also played as a professional for many years in the English league.

Kaypee, who turned 40 this month, crossed Ashok Malhotra's record aggregate of 7274 runs in the Ranji Trophy during the 1998-1999 season. Even in these days, when batsmen have the chance to play many more matches, his tally of 7623 (average 54.06) will take some beating. And only Ajay Sharma has surpassed Kaypee's total of 27 hundreds. It is a pity really that a batsman like Kaypee, who combined sound technique, total concentration and an insatiable appetite for runs was not considered good enough for national colours.