CHENNAI: Former India and Tamil Nadu cricketer AG Milkha Singh passed away on Friday. His death was mourned by the fraternity, with spin legend Bishan Singh Bedi among those expressing grief. The BCCI and Tamil Nadu Cricket Association issued condolence messages. Milkha was 75. He is survived by his wife, son, daughter and younger brother Satwender Singh.
Belonging to a family of cricketers, Milkha was a dashing left-handed batsman and played four Tests from 1960-61. After making his Ranji Trophy debut at the age of 17, he played his first Test match when he was 18, against Richie Benaud’s Australia in Chennai in 1960. His Test career was over before he turned 20. Although he continued to be a prolific run getter in first-class cricket in the 60s, he was surprisingly never picked for India again. Coached by his father, Milkha was also known for his fielding abilities.
Milkha’s father AG Ram Singh had played unofficial Tests and it is said that he was unfairly overlooked when the selectors picked the squad for India’s tour of England in 1936. He never got an opportunity to play for India. Disappointed, Ram Singh vowed to make his sons Test cricketers. His eldest son and Milkha’s older brother Kripal Singh played 14 Tests and scored a century on debut. Milkha’s younger brother Satwender played for Tamil Nadu. Milkha’s nephews Swaran Kripal Singh and Arjan Kripal also represented Tamil Nadu.
“It is shocking to hear that Milkha is no more. He was a dashing and elegant batsman, who used to play at the top of the order. I remember both Milkha and his elder brother Kripal play against England in Bombay in the early 60s. He certainly deserved to have played more than four Tests,’’ said U Prabhakar Rao, former Tamil Nadu opening bowler and TNCA vice-president, who played a lot of cricket with Kripal and Milkha.
“The TNCA is shocked by the sudden passing away of AG Milkha Singh... He played four Tests and 88 first-class matches during the period 1958-59 to 1968-69,’’ said a release from the TNCA. “BCCI condoles the sad demise of AG Milkha Singh.. The dashing left-hand batsman was the first to score a century in the Duleep Trophy when he struck 151 for South Zone in 1961-62,” said the BCCI.