Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Abbas Ali Baig

Chief Guest at Gold Award Ceremony - 14th July 2016

Abbas Ali Baig is one of the most elegant right handers to have worn the Test Cap in the history of Indian cricket. A child prodigy, Abbas Ali Baig, born on 19 March 1939, made his debut in First Class cricket at the age of 15, during the 1954–55 Ranji Trophy, against Andhra Pradesh.

He played in 10 Tests between 1959 and 1967. In a career spanning 21 years, he scored 12,367 runs in first-class cricket at an average of 34.16.

He made his initial reputation playing for Hyderabad, but it was while at Oxford that he started making heads turn with his dazzling and exquisite stroke-play, fleet footed movement and incredible hand-eye coordination. While at the crease, he was more like a composer directing his orchestra rather than a batsman wielding his willow.

His debut for India had an element of drama in it as the 20-year old Abbas Ali Baig was drafted straight from University into the Indian team to make his Test debut in the 4th Test at Old Trafford in the late 1950’s India tour of England. Baig became the youngest Indian cricketer to score a century on debut when he made 112 in India's second innings. It was also the first century by an Indian debutant outside India.

Following the series in England, Baig was included in the Indian squad for the home series against Australia later that year. In the first innings of the third match at Bombay, he scored 50 and was involved in a crucial 133-run partnership with Nari Contractor. Baig followed that with another half-century in the second innings when he made 58. His half-centuries helped India secure a draw. With over 12,000 runs in the First Class, and a style of batting that captured the viewers’ imagination, Abbas Ali Baig was the quintessential romantic batsmen in an era when India was not known for its cricketing prowess and the limited touring opportunities that were available never really allowed India to exploit his talent to full potential. During a break in India's second innings, when Baig walked to the pavilion along with Ramnath Kenny, he was kissed on his cheek by a young woman spectator, leading Vijay Merchant to remark “wonder where all these enterprising young ladies were when I was scoring my centuries and double centuries.” 
For Baig’s excellent batting in that season, he was named one of Indian Cricket’s five "Cricketers of the Year" in 1959-60.

He was impressive in the domestic circuit, scoring heavily in the Ranji and Duleep Trophy tournaments. In 1966, he was included in the team for the home series against West Indies. He was selected to be a part of the Indian team that toured England in 1971. He was the manager of the Indian Cricket Team during the 1992 World Cup.

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