CricketEurope Irish Cricket History logo
Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Raman Lamba
  • Born 2 January 1960 Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, India
  • Died 22 February 1998 Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • Educated
  • Occupation Professional Cricketer
  • Debut 9 May 1990 New Zealand at The Meadow, Downpatrick
  • Cap Number 574
  • Style Right-hand bat, right arm medium pace
  • Teams Delhi, North Zone, India, Woodvale, Cliftonville, Ardmore, North Down.

Raman Lamba was, at his best, a magnificent and destructive player, at the top of the order. Perhaps just short of that top class ability and technique that would have made him a Test Match regular, he was a dominant force on the often flat wickets of Indian first class cricket, and on the less predictable ones of the NCU and NCWU areas, where his feats beggared description, but often cloaked him in controversy. He was also a brilliant field, and, at club level, a more than useful medium pacer. This attribute was rarely to be seen at first class or List A level.

In first class cricket, he scored 8776 runs at 53.84, his 175 innings including 31 centuries and 27 fifties. His highest score 320* came in the Duleep Trophy Final (a zonal competition) in 1987 -88 for North Zone v West Zone. The West might have felt well satisfied with their first innings 444, with their captain and Test opener Anshuman Gaekwad making 216. Their opponents, however, had other ideas. They replied with a massive, and match killing, 868 all out. Raman left Gaekwad in the shade with a monumental 320 in 720 minutes. Scored off 471 balls, it included six 6s and thirty 4s. That season he totalled 1097 runs at 84.38.

Seven years later, he passed the triple hundred mark again, with 312 for Delhi in a Ranji Trophy match v Himachi Pradesh at Delhi. The hosts ran up 637-3 declared owing much to a first wicket Indian record wicket 464 between Raman and Ravi Sehigal, whose 216 was the only hundred of an eight match career. Raman's 312 took 567 minutes from 392 balls including two 6s and twenty five 4s. These innings, and similar knocks for a slightly less high score, such as his 617 balls 250 for Delhi v Punjab in 1996/97, gained him a somewhat mixed reputation. Together with the great VS Hazare he was the only Indian batsman to have scored two triple hundreds but Wisden was not alone in seeing him as a "Flat track bully". Nevertheless he was very popular in India and everywhere else he played, even if his combative nature did cause him to be banned for 10 months after the Duleep Final of 1990/91 when he so provoked an opposition player, Rashid Patel, that he was pursued by Patel, the latter brandishing a stump. This incident led to a riot and the abandonment of the match. Patel suffered also, getting a 13 month ban.

Raman's Test career was brief, limited to four matches, three v Sri Lanka in 1986/87 and one v West Indies the following season. He only passed fifty on one occasion, at Nagpur in the second Sri Lankan match. He made 53 opening the batting and helping Mohinder Armanath, on his way to a big hundred, with a second wicket stand of 126. In List A matches, one of which was played - without success - for Ireland, he hit seven centuries, scoring 2548 runs at 36.40. His highest score was 124* for North Zone, winners of the Deodhar Trophy, v Rest of India in 1989/90. The Rest had posted a useful looking 241, but with Raman in full cry, North Zone romped home by 9 wickets.

His appearances in ODIs were limited, but he scored 783 runs at 27. His best run was against the 1986/87 Australian side against whom, he scored two fifties, and, his solitary century at this level, 102 in the sixth and final game of the series. He was bowled by tall left arm quick Bruce Reid, but had helped his team to a decidedly useful 266-6. However Alan Border was in form, making a typical 91*, to give the visitors, about to return home to loose the Ashes to England's last successful side Down Under, a seven wicket victory.

Arriving at The Green as North Down's professional in 1984, he was to be utterly dominant in Ulster - and often Irish- cricket until 1997. 1400 runs and almost 40 wickets in his first season for the Comber side set the scene for much of what was to follow. That season he hit a staggeringly brilliant 166* v Malahide in the Schweppes Cup, when the Co Dublin side, thanks to an elegant 130 by Brian Gilmore, had totalled 268 appearing to have made the game safe. Not so, as Raman destroyed the seasiders attack to be there at the finish in a two wicket victory. This innings was largely instrumental in overseas players being banned from the Cup the following year, though this was a short lived exclusion. Raman's career always courted controversy.

In 1986, he joined Woodvale for the last five weeks of the season, having been on India's English tour. He ensured the Ballygomartin Roaders promotion to Section 1. Back with North Down again from 1987 - 1989, he topped the batting averages each season, with some memorable performances. In 1988, he hit a brilliant century v St Johnston in the Schweppes Semi Final, but an under strength North Down lost the final to Lurgan. The following season, he was, unsurprisingly, the dominant figure in the competition. In earlier rounds he made 124 v Carlisle and 89* v CYM. The final v Donemana at Rathmines, was a low scoring affair, but Raman with bowling figures of 10 - 2 - 12 - 3 and the match highest score of 35, made light of the conditions to bring the Cup to Comber at last. The following summer, however, besides four matches as Ireland's first non qualified player of modern times, saw him playing Section 2 cricket for Cliftonville. He was so much better than everybody else as to border upon the farcial.

This led to the NCU ruling that overseas players could not appear at this and lower levels. Lamba and Cliftonville attempted to have the High Court in Belfast overturn this, on the grounds that he, married to a local girl and claiming - wrongly - to have given up his Indian representative career, was no longer an overseas player. The judge did not agree.

A highly successful and influential season for Ardmore in the North West followed, four hundreds being just the icing on the cake, before via Woodvale, he was back at The Green in 1993, where, until 1997, he continued to head the averages and decimate opposition attacks.

He was first selected for Ireland in May 1990 against the New Zealanders. He made a good start at The Meadow with a top score 52 at No 2, before being caught at the wicket by future TV commentator Ian Smith off the great Richard Hadlee. Next highest score was Stephen Warke's 23; they put on 50 for the third wicket. Thereafter he was a failure. In his remaining three innings, including a Nat West Trophy match with Sussex, he managed only 10 runs, though he held three catches. He took only one wicket, that of Smith, in the second New Zealand match. The experiment of playing him as a non qualified player was not tried again, though he invariably batted in an Irish sweater, hoping to catch the selectorial eye. He was, according to Clarence Hiles, not fully happy in the Irish set up, and it is probably true that, in some quarters, his presence was resented.

From 1991, he had been spending his winters playing club cricket in Bangladesh, where his charismatic approach to the game made him very popular. Fielding at bat pad, helmetless, in a club match on 22 February 1998, he was struck on the temple. Though he walked unaided from the field, he suffered internal bleeding, and, despite the presence of a neurosurgeon, specially flown in from Delhi, nothing could be done for him.

Raman Lamba will always be remembered in Ulster cricket as thoroughly likeable man and a superb cricketer. Despite his brief and unsuccessful career for Ireland, he is profiled in Siggins and Fitzgerald "Ireland's 100 Cricket Greats." His obituary is Wisden 1999.