Death brings out the tributes, full of flowery phrases. To an extent, the sentiments may be exaggerated but one is sure the words come straight from the heart. The tributes for Lala Amarnath are obviously well meant. For a man who was never afraid to call a spade a spade, had running battles with those in authority and had a reputation for being undiplomatic in his approach, one would have thought he must have made many enemies along the way. But even those who felt that Amarnath was `blunt' or `rude' could not help adding that he had a valid point.
These thoughts come to mind on going through Don Bradman's tribute to Amarnath. In a message conveyed through the website, indya.com, Bradman says: ``I was very sad to hear the news that my old cricketing foe Lala Amarnath died over the weekend. I remember first meeting Lala on the first tour between our two countries in 1947. I found him absolutely charming and a wonderful ambassador for the game. It was a special time for me as it was during this series that I made by 100th century. Lala was one of the first to congratulate me. In fact I believe the series was one of my most pleasant. There was a wonderful spirit of camaraderie amidst the players on both sides. Throughout his life, I know Lala made a significant contribution to Indian cricket. I extend my sympathies to his family.''
It can be taken that Bradman means every word he has said in his tribute. If at all proof is needed, one has only to go through his extremely readable autobiography `Farewell to Cricket' published in 1950. In the chapter on the Indian tour of Australia, Bradman has many good things to say about Amarnath, both as a cricketer and as a man. Describing him as a `picturesque player' Bradman says ``throughout the tour, I found Amarnath absolutely charming in every respect. He and Peter Gupta (the manager) co-operated in all conceivable ways to try and make the games enjoyable and the most wonderful spirit of camaraderie existed between the Australian and Indian players. Amarnath was such a splendid ambassador that it makes it all the more difficult to understand his recent suspension by the Indian Board of Control. (This was following his war of words with Board president Anthony de Mello). Lala as he was called certainly believed in speaking his mind at all times and was not averse to expressing his opinion in regard to a controlling authority or an individual but in Australia he always did it with the utmost courtesy and tact. I look back on the season with him as my opposite number as one of my most pleasant cricket years.''
There surely cannot be a nicer tribute to Amarnath the captain or a better appraisal of Amarnath the man.