Wishing is easy but at the same time it takes practise and action for dreams to come true. Amol Muzumdar is a complete dictionary of all cricketing knowledge. Along with that he is an exceptional speaker who keeps you on the edge of your seat when sharing his ideas, memories, thoughts and experiences. He further has learnt in commentary that ‘confidence’ is everything. Having played for 2 decades this humble gentleman has so much knowledge to share with youngsters when discussing cricket. He is best remembered for scoring 260 in his Ranji Trophy debut game and today he is regarded as one of the best cricket commentators with a marvellous voice. On the other hand, he is a fun loving person who always encourages youngsters to follow their dreams. CricFit.com author Binaisha M. Surti met Amol in Mumbai where they had a great conversation ranging on a variety of topics from his introduction to the game, the importance of having Ramakant Achrekar in his life and him being a prankster.
Who introduced you to the game of cricket and share with us your earliest memories of playing the sport at Shivaji Park?
Amol: My father was a very reputed cricketer himself. So my earliest memories are about my father playing cricket and further he was the one who introduced me to the game. Some of his friends who were cricketers keep telling me that since I was around 3 years old my father would tell them that he would make me a Test cricketer. It is great when today I look at my childhood photographs and see the bat in my hand when I was about 3 years old. My father would give me a bat and would bowl to me all the time. I must have faced more than a lakh deliveries. We used to have a small court yard in our house, where stood a mango tree. Under that, there was a small passage where I learnt all my shots and my batting there.
Later on my father took me to Amar Vaidya. That was my first introduction with hard ball cricket and net practise. It was quite good. It was a completely different ball game all together playing at Shivaji Park. Then, I came to know minute aspects about the game. I believe that I was a very lucky cricketer as there was enormous talent around there and just looking at that talent I grew. Though Amar Vaidya taught me his father Anna Vaidya was always around. I remember an incident… every day after work my father would come and pick me up by bus from Shivaji Park. That day somehow he was late and I was just sitting around there. Anna Sir saw me and asked what I was doing so late. So I told him that my father had not come to pick me up as yet. He told me since you have got some time on hand, pick up your bat and show me 100 times how you would do forward defence. I did it a 100 times. My father came when I was on 65 (laughs) but he still made me continue. Those were different times.
What was the importance of having Ramakant Achrekar Sir in your life as he helped in shaping your career? Further what were the key aspects that you picked up from him and imply in your coaching?
Amol: One fine day my father said that he would take me to Achrekar Sir’s nets as it was just next to Anna Vaidya’s coaching nets. There was a buzz about Achrekar Sir. So we went there. Achrekar Sir asked me to bat in the nets for around 45 minutes. As soon as I finished batting he took my father aside and asked him if I would like to shift schools. My father asked me what I wanted to do and I said yes that I would shift my school. I later shifted in the 8th grade. Further there were certain things that Sir dwelled upon like discipline, there was a routine which followed irrespective of the weather conditions or even if any star player was around. It was hard core training right from lifting the nets up, putting it on, taking it away, rolling the wicket, watering the wicket etc.
You once said that you would dream of giving interviews waiting for bus no 91 during your childhood. Could you elaborate on that incident?
Amol: It was funny. (Laughs a lot) The frequency was never good back then of bus no 91. I hope it has improved now because you will find another dreamer over there. Each bus came at an interval of 40 minutes. So if you miss one then you’re stuck and there was no other way out. So I would sit at the bus stop and wait for it and dream. If I became a cricketer and if someone asked me that where did I get so much patience from? I won’t say that it is a natural ability, I will say it came about waiting for bus no 91 at the bus stop. Waiting for long hours automatically helps you build up patience.
Who has been your greatest inspiration when it came to you taking up the sport and playing cricket?
Amol: Firstly my father was a big influence when it came to me taking up the sport. We used to discuss about the game all the time. I stayed in a joint family and my uncle was also a cricketer. So the whole atmosphere was about cricket. Then Achrekar sir changed my life in a big way. The 3rd person I would say is Sunil Gavaskar. I watched him on television, I followed him a lot and never missed a trick from him. “The Sunil Gavaskar Presence” was a programme I used to watch a lot. I never missed his show. How he carried himself, to how he spoke on television and finally how he passed on knowledge to younger kids. Just watching that show had a great impact on my life.
What according to you has been your most memorable cricketing moments of all time?
Amol: There were a few memorable moments. The 1st time when Ravi Shastri held the Ranji Trohy cup. I had a good season back then scoring many runs and went onto make a world record. I had played a little part in that victory so the time he lifted the cup is still very fresh in my mind. I will also never forget the 2006-07 Ranji season where I lifted the Ranji Trophy cup. It was a very proud moment for me as captain. Further talking about my debut game, scoring 260 on debut has always been very special…in fact it happened on 13th February and since then it has been 22 years. When I heard that it was a world record I was very shocked as I did not know about it. I knew that it was an Indian record but never knew that it was a world record.
Which one would you pick and why…life as a cricketer, life as a commentator or life as a coach?
Amol: Any day it would be life as a cricketer because you actually live it. On the other hand, the commentator is talking about the game because the cricketers are playing. The coach is sitting outside but again he has no control over what the cricketers are doing in the middle. So the “cricketer” is the most important crux of it.
You are amongst the top run getters in Ranji Trophy? How has the journey and experience been of playing for Mumbai, then Assam and finally Andhra Pradesh?
Amol: I always believe that if you play 2 decades of first class cricket you will always have ups and downs. But I look at it as a very enriching experience for myself. I was lucky enough to go through 8 Ranji Trophy titles for Mumbai, one for Assam. So it has been a very refreshing experience. But Mumbai has always been very close to my heart.
How has your stint been playing cricket and then further becoming the batting consultant of Netherlands?
Amol: Netherlands has been a very good experience for me. This came to me by God’s grace, and it further came at the correct time. This happened during the fag end of my career and it just went on to extend my career for a little bit. I started looking forward to go the ground and doing something. It was a big motivation for me. We also won a championship there. My first game was a relegation game where I helped them to stay in the top class. My last game for Hague was the championship game. So I felt that I had done my job.
Talking about coaching, the pleasure that you get of imparting your knowledge, what you have acquired is a great thing. You are hoping against hope that the cricketer does well. So when they do well, the happiness that you get is something different all together. During the week I would play with them and on some others I would share my knowledge so it was a dual role which I enjoyed.
Which has been the most memorable game that you have commentated in?
Amol: It has to be when Gavaskar Sir was in the commentary box with me and plus Ravi too was there. It was the Deodhar Trophy at Visakhapatnam in 2014. It was pretty good just to sit next to Gavaskar Sir.
Share with us some humorous incidents that have taken place while you were commentating in the commentary box?
Amol: (Laughs) There have been quite a few. Once we were in Cuttack and VB Chandrasekhar was doing minus ten (the start) of the day and the monitor went off. At that point of time I was sitting next to him. I was shell shocked and was wondering what we were going to do. He being the experienced one handled the entire situation very smoothly. Without the monitor he was just listening to the director from the ear piece. Nobody knew that anything had gone wrong as VB Chandrasekhar managed it very well. Finally when he kept the micro phone down after 5 minutes we were so relieved. I learnt again how to handle situations like these.
You have known Sachin Tendulkar since childhood. We believe that behind the serious face, Sachin can also be a prankster? Could you share some pranks that he has played?
Amol: (Laughs) we have all been pranksters. The Mumbai dressing room used to be an absolute chaos back then. I remember that on few occasions we have been unbelievably loud but at the same time focussed. Sachin loved every bit of all the fun in the dressing room. When we were in school during our under 15 days, on one particular tour I remember Sachin had applied balm on a fellow cricketers face without him noticing it. So when he woke up, he was literary crying. His face was burning very badly and he had to dip his face in a bucket of water…so Sachin was quite a bit of a prankster.
Since you too are a big prankster share with us a prank that you have played?
Amol: Once we were travelling in a train and I painted Paras Mhambrey’s entire kit bag with fevicol. When he woke up in the morning he was shocked. Wherever he took the bag with him, he had to see the specs and other things that I had drawn on it. (Laughs).
Tips you would like to give young cricketers aspiring to become a great batsman like you?
Amol: Any batsman who would like to learn the trade, would have to spend a lot of hours practising their basics and trying to get the skill level up. One’s skills need to be of the highest order. That will only happen if you keep on practising. Technique is something one should have, for the person to survive over a period of time. You have to put in those extra hours learning, keep your eyes and ears open all the time. You have to grind it out in the middle and spend time in the sun.
Share with us something’s that your fans do not know about you?
Amol: I am a good cook and I love cooking. I love watching things and inculcating them in my cooking. When it comes to outdoors I am a very adventurous person. I love going on trails and trekking. Basically I love life and I am a very lively person.
Message for the Indian team who will play the Asia Cup and World T20?
Amol: This is probably the best side that will go on to play these tournaments. So I would say just go out there and express the feelings of 1.2 billion people.