AG Milkha Singh, the former India and Tamil Nadu batsman, has died, aged 75, following a cardiac arrest.
A left-hander, Milkha made his Test debut for India against Australia in Chennai, just days after his 18th birthday, and played three further Tests before not being considered again for India. He had a more successful domestic career, between 1958-59 and 1968-69, in which he scored 4324 runs, including eight centuries, in 136 innings at an average of 35.44.
Milkha was a second-generation cricketer from the AG Singh family, which had moved from Amritsar to Chennai in 1904. Milkha’s father Ram Singh played 56 first-class games, including the first Ranji Trophy match in 1934 in which he claimed 11 wickets against Mysore at the MA Chidambaram Stadium. His elder brother Kripal played 14 Tests, including one with Milkha against England in 1961-62. Satwender Singh, the youngest of the lot, played 60 first-class matches,scoring 2726 runs.
Milkha started playing cricket at 13 and was the vice-captain of the All-India schools team that toured Sri Lanka in 1955. He went onto make his Ranji Trophy debut for Madras at 17 and struck the first hundred in the Duleep Trophy, hitting 151 for South Zone against North Zone in the inaugural match at Madras in 1961-62. He was also a key member of the State Bank of India side, in the late 60s and early 70s, which also included former India legspinner VV Kumar.
“He leaves behind a legacy not only for Tamil Nadu and India but also for State Bank of India – having played from 1964 to 1977,” Kumar told ESPNcricinfo. “There are no second thoughts about his technique, ability, and flamboyant game. Milkha was one of the best left-handers I have seen in India at that time along with Ajit Wadekar. I have bowled to a lot of world-class left-handers, including Garry Sobers, but Milkha was up there.
“Milkha and I had been to Colombo, Singapore, and Malaysia with the State Bank side. In fact, back then, the BCCI was contemplating having a State Bank side in Ranji. Ajit Wadekar and Hanumant Singh were also part of that strong side. Milkha contributed a lot to State Bank of India.
“What stood out about Milkha was he could play any shot against any type of bowling. He has stood up to the fury of bowlers from West Indies like (Wes) Hall and (Sonny) Ramadhin. Coming to the zonals, the side was always dependent on him. And Milkha was always Tamil Nadu’s No. 3. If he didn’t come in at No. 3, the opposition would be surprised.”
Source: ESPN Crickinfo