Ramachandra Guha
Cricket writer and historian

A case for the Amarnath-Kardar Trophy

The historically minded will love it if the captains of the first Indo-Pak contests were to be honoured so, but what about younger, more modern fans?

Ramachandra Guha

January 20, 2013

Comments: 15 | Text size: A | A

Lala Amarnath bowls in the nets, 1946
Lala Amarnath played his early cricket in Lahore and was revered in Pakistan © Getty Images
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One of the great joys of writing for ESPNcricinfo is the range of reactions one elicits. An hour after my piece mooting a named trophy for Indo-Pak contests was posted, there were a hundred responses, largely (given that it was early in the morning in India) the work of non-resident Pakistanis and Indians. From these it seems that of the options offered by me, the Imran-Kapil Trophy and the Wasim-Kumble Trophy appealed more than the others.

On cricketing grounds either alternative is credible. Yet - given his own transition from cricketer to politician - Imran's name would be controversial in some circles in Pakistan, while fans with longer memories would recall that Wasim, while undeniably a great cricketer (with the possible exception only of Malcolm Marshall, the finest fast bowler who ever lived), was not above reproach in his conduct as player and as captain.

In a private email, my oldest and closest Pakistani friend, the economist Tariq Banuri, offered another option - the Amarnath-Kardar Trophy, after the captains in the first Test series between the two countries. Both were larger-than-life figures, and both had crucial cross-border connections. Kardar played for undivided India; and Amarnath was venerated in Pakistan.

One of my favourite cricket stories concerns the disembarkation from their flight of the Indian side that toured Pakistan in 1977-78. As the cricketers made for the bus that had come to receive them, their manager, the art collector, international jet-setter, and former Maharaja, Fatehsinghrao "Jackie" Baroda, made as of right for the Mercedes that had also come to meet the visitors. Before he reached the door, he was stopped by the liveried chauffeur, who pointed him towards the bus while saying: "Tum udhar jao - ye sirf Lala Saheb ke liye hai (Go to the bus. This is only for Lala saheb.)"

Tariq Banuri's proposal is intriguing as well as attractive. It would appeal to the historically minded, and to senior citizens. But I still think that since the vast majority of cricket lovers are under 40, the idea of a Tendulkar Trophy may make more sense. Indeed, if we wish to separate cricket from politics, and if fans want regular ties between the two countries, a Tendulkar Trophy may be the most workable solution. The all-powerful Indian cricket board, whose overflowing coffers determine - whether we like it or not - when and how often the two countries play one another, will jump at the idea. Besides, Sachin is a great sportsman, who in personal and cricketing matters is completely uncontroversial. He has always conducted himself with dignity and self-effacement, as did Frank Worrell and Basil D'Oliveira in their time. If Australians and South Africans can put cricket above partisanship, I trust Pakistanis can, too.

Personally speaking, as a professional historian who is not that far from being a senior citizen himself, I would be happy with an Amarnath-Kardar Trophy. But I suspect that a Tendulkar Trophy may fly more easily with those who have the power to decide, and activate, proposals such as these.

Historian and cricket writer Ramachandra Guha is the author of A Corner of A Foreign Field and Wickets in the East among other books

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Posted by iHitWicket on (January 23, 2013, 18:20 GMT)

Dear Mr.Guha, Your experience and expertise shouldn't be confined to writing (for Cricinfo) about what a Ind-Pak series should be named as. What would please me most is if you can select gems out of your memory (and of your reading) which can show sportsmanship in cricket and write regularly about such instances where the game was truly of gentlemen's. At cricinfo we read articles about great batting/bowling exploits in games. But hardly anyone writes about games where the article's focal point is sportsmanship. I believe you are in great position to provide us with such stories. And also its the need of the day with many more instances of aggression and in-your-face behavior occurring. Hope you will entertain this request.

Posted by RightArmEverywhere on (January 23, 2013, 13:21 GMT)

As a per-requisite for a trophy to be named and fought for, first the two countries need to play on a regular basis. As rightly pointed by the author, this prerogative is unfairly owned by thee BCCI which single handedly decides whether or not they play and if they do, when, where and what the 2 countries play. Therefore, like it or not, it will be the BCCI deciding the fate of such a trophy and what it shall be named irrespective of what we all think.

Posted by spinkingKK on (January 22, 2013, 11:33 GMT)

I was suggesting Imran-Kapil. However, after reading this article, Amarnath-Kardar trophy seems more apt and will make people think more understand the historical importance of the series. I love it. But, Lala Amarnath had a son Mohinder who was also a great player. But, here, we only want to refer to the original Amarnath. So, to make sure that we are only referring to Lala, may be it can be named Lala-Kardar.

Posted by pakstarr on (January 21, 2013, 13:41 GMT)

Ramchadra Guha still trying to put 'Tendulkar Trophy' forward...lol

Maybe somebody is writing a Tendulkar biography...

It would be a good domestic Indian trophy name at most.

The generational argument that younger people will take to the Tendulkar Trophy is rubbish. I'm not saying I don't like Tendulkar (far from it). Just not singular for a Pak-Ind contest

Posted by jay57870 on (January 21, 2013, 10:09 GMT)

Guha - What's in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet"! Famous words of Juliet. Sigh. No assurance, however, of any name - singular or hyphenated - fostering everlasting love. Yes, Sachin Tendulkar has universal appeal & name recognition. It goes beyond borders & generations. Even then, alas, Shakespeare might have difficulty singing the praises of this uniquely singular sportsman to bridge the divide. It's best, therefore, to dedicate Tendulkar's name to a truly universal trophy, like the future World Cup of Tests!

Posted by balajeev on (January 21, 2013, 9:44 GMT)

Guha's arguments don't seem to be based on sound logic. It seems as if he is writing these articles on a whim.

Posted by Fearless_Greens on (January 21, 2013, 2:04 GMT)

I think naming the trophy on one person is not a good idea because it does not highlight the bilateral nature of the series. Regardless of someone being reproachable or not there must be one name from each side so that both sides feel some sense of belonging.

Posted by mk49_van on (January 21, 2013, 1:57 GMT)

Why bother, really? The two are unlikely to play tests anytime soon. They way things are going both countries may not play tests anymore-- India may stop playing tests altogether since they wont have a viable test team, and Pakistan because they wont have a viable country.

Posted by TAMOJIT1982 on (January 20, 2013, 14:15 GMT)

Mr.Guha,

I agree with Amarnath- Kardar trophy name. BUt strongly NOT for Tendulkar trophy or the view that most viewers are under 40 logic. Does it mean we change the name with each passing generation ? SRT name will be apt for a later /diff topic and financial muscle of Indian board is irrelevant here. cricketer above "reproach" logic is baffling as well. Amarnath was no saint and neither was Kardar, by today's ICC rules on gamesmanship, so bringing out Imran's name doesnt cut ice. and how about Warne Murli or Gavaskar-Border trophy ? both of them were above "reproach" ? Amarnath - Kardar trophy just by its history is fine enuf. am game for it.

Posted by stoor on (January 20, 2013, 14:13 GMT)

They may discuss whatever trophy name for India-Pakistan Test Series or even ODI Series, however I feel as though, the greatest player produced by India is Tendulkar and the greatest Cricketer by Pakistan is Imran Khan. So the Test Series should be Imran-Tendulkar Trophy. The ODI Trophy should be named Gangly-Inzamam Cup & the T20 Series should be the Afridi-Yuvraj Trophy :P Just saying :D

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