The Comeback King of Indian Cricket
Mohinder Amarnath Bhardwaj -- the Punjabi Munda from a family of cricketers in Patiala. Jimmy was the nickname he was called, at home, among his friends and peers. He also earned the title of Comeback King for his grit, gumption and the 'never say die' attitude.
He is the son of legendary cricketer Lala Amarnath and his wife Kailash Kumari. He also was the naughty little brother of two cricketers Surinder(former Test player) and Rajinder Amarnath(former first-class cricketer and current coach). Some anecdotes of his childhood shared by his mother in a TV show reveals the loving yet principally firm upbringing of his mother while Lala ji was the militaristic taskmaster. Lala ji was feared so much as Kailash ji shared, that even the 12 dogs at home used to never bark when he was around.
Once the ziddi and shaitan little Jimmy asked for 10 Rs from his mother as pocket money which she gladly granted. But, then the boy went to his elder sister to ask for the same amount. When the mother heard it she reprimanded the boy and warned his sister against giving him more. As Jimmy was never to back down, he started a tantrum and even threatened to jump down the second-floor balcony if not given another 10 Rs. But the Patiala woman did not budge from her decision, instead, she closed the door of the room and asked him to go ahead and jump while she watched. Jimmy kept making false threats, trying to emotionally blackmail her. After some time Kailash Ji gave the ultimatum - either he should jump without wasting her time or she would herself give the push(dhakka).
This stubborn nature of young Jimmy was perfectly channeled and reformed by the worthy parents into a passionate determination to rise everytime he lost his grip in his cricketing career. How? Read on!
Mohinder Amarnath officially entered the world of cricket in 1969 as a medium-paced bowler with no batting abilities. He kept shuffling in and out of the team until he worked towards adding pace to his bowling and batting. Finally, in 1982 he stormed into the tabloids as a fast bowler and batsman to reckon.
Barging into the team after a 3-year gap, he knocked 1182 runs in 11 Test matches against West Indies and Pakistan. That stint not only won him accolades of back-to-back Man of the Match awards but also a spot in the World Cup squad of 1983 as the Vice-Captain. It is said that captain Kapil Dev had more faith in his team and the Vice-Captain than in the panel of selectors.
Jimmy played a crucial role as an excellent all-rounder in the semi-final and finals winning the man of the match awards in both.
His stint helped the team to bewilder the world by clinching the cup on 25th June 1983 for the first time.
Amarnath shared an anecdote of that historical night. As he had a friendly relationship with the W.Indian team, he went to their dressing room to meet them as a mark of respect. He found almost all the players with red swollen eyes which showed that they had cried.
He could see that they had been so sure of their third victory that they had already kept Champagne bottles ready. But, the Indian players had flummoxed them with the loss and made them go into shock.
Yet, a few of the W.Indies team displayed amazing sportsmanship by coming to the Indian dressing room and gifting the Champagne bottles.
Unfortunately, the following season gained him the tag 'Amarnought' -- a backlash for his one-run score in 6 innings against W. Indies and also was sacked from the Indian team.
But, the Patiala man as usual never flinched in adversity. He again came back as the batsman who scored on the toughest tracks like Perth - the fastest pitch in the world. He scored 11 centuries against the fastest bowlers on this pitch and caused frowns of concern for renowned batsmen with his fast bowling.
We have enjoyed his prowess as an actor too. The recent movie 83 recreated the journey of the Indian team's transformation from being considered underdogs to world champions.
Mohinder enacted the role of his father Lala Amarnath while Saqib Saleem played the role of Jimmy. He was also a co-star in the movie Dishoom.
The young actor received the highest validation from the great cricketer himself. Jimmy had a red handkerchief which he believed was his lucky charm. Cricket fans have seen him sporting the red kerchief often around his neck or kept in his pocket during matches.
After the first screening of the movie 83, Mohinder Amarnath overwhelmed Saqib Saleem to tears by gifting this iconic lucky charm to the actor, justifying and appreciating the role with a jaadu ki jhappi(warm hug).
This year Jimmy is 71-year-old and one of the selector's panel for the North Zone. The all-rounder has fulfilled many short-term roles as a coach to the new Bangladesh, Rajasthan and Moroccan teams. But, turned down the offer as the coach of the India A team. He is well-known as a commentator and consultant for the Bengal team.
In a nutshell - A legendary cricketer to reckon A man of grit to inspire.