Ghulam Ahmed Biography
Blessed with ridiculous accuracy and relentless stamina, Ghulam Ahmed was India’s first great off-spinner, and formed the first triumvirate of Indian spin along with Subhash Gupte and Vinoo Mankad. On his day Ghulam could run through sides: on off-days he could keep them at bay.
Ghulam’s control is part of Indian cricket folklore: when he bowled short on one occasion, he had the pitch measured — and, as he had predicted, it was a couple of feet short! As for his stamina, nothing bears more testimony to that than his 92.3-21-245-4 for Hyderabad against Holkar — then the most balls bowled by anyone in a First-Class innings.
Ghulam had excellent First-Class numbers, taking 407 wickets at 22.57. His short Test career spanned a mere 22 matches, in which he picked up 68 wickets at 30.17; 8 of these Tests were played outside India, in which he averaged 29.41.
No mug with the bat, he scored 50 batting at No. 11 against Pakistan at Kotla, helping Hemu Adhikari add 109 for the last wicket. He also took 5 for 86 in the Test, thus playing a crucial role in India’s first Test win over Pakistan.
Earlier, he struck major dents in the England second innings at Chepauk the previous season, claiming 4 for 77 and helping Mankad rout England in what was India’s maiden Test victory.
Perhaps his finest performance came amidst the Headingley disaster of 1952. He toiled hard, taking 7 for 137 of the 13 wickets India took in the Test. Unfortunately, India, reduced to 0 for 4, were never in the reckoning. In a horror series for India, Ghulam emerged with 15 wickets at 24.73.
His other great performance came at Eden Gardens, where he put up another lion-hearted effort to take 7 for 49 and 3 for 81. Australia managed only 177 and 189 for 9, but still won by 94 runs.
Ghulam was also the first specialist bowler to lead India. He led India against New Zealand in the first Test played at Hyderabad. He remains the only Indian to lead his side in the first Test at his hometown. His other 2 Tests came as part of the infamous musical chair of captains when India had 6 captains in 7 Tests. He retired to avoid being a part of the murk and confusion.
Following retirement Ghulam became managed Indian sides. His nephew Asif Iqbal led Pakistan, as has Shoaib Malik, husband of Ghulam’s grandniece Sania Mirza.