On Chandra, and Indian cricket pre-1974

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On Chandra, and Indian cricket pre-1974

Postby bolero » Fri Nov 24, 2017 8:21 am

Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, born May 17 1945, was afflicted by poliomyelitis as a child and his right-arm remained withered as he grew into manhood. Yet, it became the most potent match-winning weapon for India for 14 years. Arunabha Sengupta remembers his extraordinary career.

King’s Evidence

It is one of the curious paradoxes of cricket that the hand which was cursed into deformation by the deities of fate was later termed ‘Hand of God’ by the King himself.

After all, the great Viv Richards would know best about the unpredictable perils of playing the top spinners and googlies that were propelled out of Bhagwat Chandrasekhar’s withered arm. It was the winter of 1974, and the young Richards was all at sea against the freakish Indian leg-spinner. On his Test debut in the first Test at Bangalore, Richards was twice caught off Chandra, for 4 and 3. In the second Test, for some curious reason, the Indian selectors decided to play three finger-spinners. Had Chandra played, the Antiguan’s rise to the batting throne of the world might have delayed, or even possibly derailed. But, as it transpired, Chandra was left out and Bishan Singh Bedi came in to join Srinivas Venkataraghavan and EAS Prasanna. Richards struck 20 fours and 6 sixes in his 192.

Chandra returned for the next Test and played the rest of the series. Richards managed just 161 runs in the 4 Tests in which he featured, scoring at an average of 23.00, with just one fifty to show for his efforts. Chandra got him thrice, and even when the others accounted for him, those freakishly fast erratic spinners were the balls that perturbed the great man.

In 1979 when India toured England, they faced Somerset at Taunton. The hosts were 115 for 4 when Viv Richards, now the best batsman of the world, walked out with his characteristic swagger. Chandra was nearing the end of his career. Yet, when acting captain Gundappa Viswanath brought him on, Richards is supposed to have turned to wicketkeeper Surinder Khanna asking, “What has he been brought on for?” Soon, the West Indian was caught off Chandra’s bowling. Legend has it that when Richards had walked in to bat that day. Chandra had welcomed him with the words, “Here is my bunny.” The tale is perhaps apocryphal, but no other bowler in the world could even have such assertions fictitiously attributed to him.

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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby bolero » Fri Nov 24, 2017 8:22 am

Liability becomes asset

But then, the tale of Chandra is one of such impossibilities. As a five-year-old, he suffered an attack of poliomyelitis. Three long months were spent lying in the hospital, and it was soon discovered that his right arm would remain withered and emaciated.

The world of sports does not lack examples of champion athletes overcoming physical challenges. American tennis player Doris Hart was so badly afflicted as a child with infection in the knees, that it was feared that she would never walk again. She won the Wimbledon singles in 1951. American Wilma Rudolph contracted infantile paralysis at the age of 4, but overcame her debilitating illness to win three sprint gold medals at the 1960 Rome Olympics. American Bethany Hamilton emerged as a champion surfer after losing an arm to a shark attack.

In cricket, Len Hutton enjoyed years of sustained brilliance after having his arm shortened due to a gym accident during the Second World War and Denis Compton returned to Test cricket after having his knee cap removed. And Fred Titmus bowled for England after losing three toes in a boat accident.

Yet, Chandrasekhar was unique. He was perhaps the only one to turn his deformity into his lethal weapon. The thinness of his arm resulted in unique flexibility, helping him produce extra bite in his top-spinner. With time, he developed a near classical loop, and started turning his leg-breaks more often. However, for most of his career, he sent down top-spinners and googlies, at close to medium pace, often unplayable off the pitch.

Bounding in off a longish run-up, his defective arm propelled by a high action, Chandra bowled surprisingly quick, beating the batsmen as much with pace as with guile. At The Oval in 1971, he famously dismissed John Edrich with a faster one — christened “Mill Riff” after the Derby winner of that summer. Edrich’s bat was still in the air when the ball hit the stumps.

Ray Illingworth observed that Chandra bowled a quicker one that was a genuine bouncer. In fact, Chandra was cheeky enough to bowl one such to the fearsome Charlie Griffith, and it struck the big man on his body. But, there was a method in Chandra’s madness. That was the last innings of the final Test of the 1966-67 series. Griffith did not have the chance to return the compliment to the Indians.

The first match-winner

Chandra confessed that sometimes he could not predict what the ball would do off the pitch once it left his hand. But, that did not deter him from becoming perhaps the first great match-winning bowler for India. His career figures show 242 wickets in 58 Tests at 29.74, with a strike rate of 65.9 balls per scalp. Impressive though the numbers are, his statistics in won matches prove staggering. Chandra picked up 98 wickets in 14 wins, at 19.27, with the strike rate down to 45.4. Exactly half of his 16 five-fors and 2 ten-wicket hauls were captured in those 14 victorious Tests. Remarkably, 5 of these 14 wins were brought about on foreign tracks, almost unimaginable in those days of Indian cricket.

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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby bolero » Fri Nov 24, 2017 8:22 am

All these tales of triumphs abroad have become part of Indian cricket’s folklore. The 6 for 38 scripting India’s first win in England at The Oval in 1971, with the adrenaline surging moment of dismissing John Edrich and Keith Fletcher in the space of two balls; the 8 wickets against the New Zealand batsmen and umpires at Auckland in 1975-76; 6 in the first innings of that immortal Port-of-Spain Test of 1976 or the 18 in the 2 wins at Melbourne and Sydney during the Packer affected 1977-78 — all those success stories had Chandra’s polio afflicted arm weaving the magical yarn, occasionally on his own and often in tandem with the other three incredible spinners of that era.

His exploits on the home turf are also remembered fondly, often with wistful sighs. Who can forget the thunderous roars at Eden on that January morning of 1973! As England chased 192 to win, Bedi reduced them to 17 for 4 on the fourth evening. Tony Greig proceeded to take the bowling by the scruff of the neck. Early on the fifth morning, he had already added 97 with Mike Denness, and England were cruising towards victory. At this juncture, Chandra got Greig with a stock-in-trade top-spinner and the stadium erupted. With every step he took as he ran in to bowl, Eden crowd started chanting “Chandra .. Chandra” in a deafening cheer which culminated in an ear-splitting crescendo as the ball reached the batsman. And Alan Knott pulled into the hands of Salim Durani at mid-wicket. Soon Denness was done in by a googly. The spell of 4.3-2-5-3 turned the match on its head. Finally, just after lunch, Chandra trapped Bob Cottam leg-before and England were all out for 163. The echoes of ecstatic jubilation reverberated around the City of Joy.

And the other glorious Eden morning two years later, when West Indies needed less than 150, seven wickets in hand, with Clive Lloyd and Alvin Kallicharran going great guns. So far in the match Chandra had been the evil twin of his wicket-taking self, a profligate wastrel who gifted runs by the bucket. Yes, he could be criminally expensive on occasions, when his line and length deserted him. On that morning, Lloyd had collared him even as the spectators were settling down in their seats, forcing him to be taken off. Yet, Mansur Ali Khan, the erstwhile Nawab of Pataudi, knew that there was only one man who could hand him the miracle. The ball was tossed to Chandra, and Lloyd was done in by a beauty that hit his pads and ricocheted on to the stumps. An alarmed Kallicharran lashed out and Viswanath held the catch at slip. India won by 85 runs amidst a joyous bugles and kettledrums.

Chandra bowled India to victory for the first time in his fourth Test, at the Brabourne Stadium against Bobby Simpson’s Australians in 1964-65. He took 4 in each innings, hitting Simpson’s stumps on the first morning, helped by a track newly re-laid on a foundation of bricks. India chased down the 254 run target with 8 wickets down and the nervous Chandra padded up in the dressing room.

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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby bolero » Fri Nov 24, 2017 8:23 am

The final victory came in 1977-78, at Sydney, and in one of those strange coincidences of cricket, Bobby Simpson’s Australians were at the receiving end yet again. True, this Bobby Simpson had been hastened back from retirement to lead the second Australian string side as the stars had taken their shine and glitter to the pastures of World Series Cricket. And yet again, Chandra picked 4 in the first innings including the wicket of Simpson. In the second he picked up two more, as Prasanna, Bedi and Karsan Ghavri did the rest. In the previous match at Melbourne, he had picked up 6 in each innings in another win.

After 14 years and 14 triumphs, unusual frequency for India in those days, the wizardry was intact, enriched by experience. The balls often travelled slower through the air, snaring the opponent into a web of deception, mixed with his trademark offerings that streaked through at uncanny rates with unexpected turn or the lack of it.

He travelled to England one last time, and although he won his duel against Viv Richards at Taunton, he went for 113 without a wicket at Edgbaston as Geoff Boycott hit 155 and David Gower 200. He did not play the remaining Tests of the series. In fact he never played for India again.

Fast-tracked to the top

The path to Test cricket had been unconventional. Chandra was 17 when he was included in the Mysore side and played his first Test just three months after that. Those were three months full of fizzing top-spinners and googlies which foxed many a good batsman. In 4 Ranji Trophy games he picked up 25 wickets and was selected for the Board President’s XI to play against the visiting MCC team.

Chandra got just one wicket in the match — Phil Sharpe leg before, and finished with figures of 1 for 54. But the selectors had seen enough. Perhaps a snick induced off Ken Barrington, atrociously floored at slip following the tradition of Indian fielding of that era, tilted the balance in his favour. In the second Test at the Brabourne Stadium, Chandra made his debut and picked up 4 wickets in the first innings.

He was not very successful as the series wore on, mainly because of the arrival of that famous stumbling block for spinners — Colin Cowdrey. But, by the time the Australians visited in the next season, Chandra had arrived.

The first few years saw his bowling suffer because of some deplorable fielding — especially close to the wicket. In 1967, he travelled to England, picking up 57 wickets in all, 16 in the Tests, in spite of catches frequently slipping through fingers.

However, he suffered a leg injury during the next season. And when he was progressing towards recovery he fell off his scooter along his commute to work. The accident led to his missing the home seasons and the tours that followed, before the rousing comeback of 1971. By then the close-in cordon had now been reinforced with a special group of catchers, led by Eknath Solkar at short-leg. Ajit Wadekar used him smartly, and Chandra never looked back.

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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby bolero » Fri Nov 24, 2017 8:24 am

The Gray-Nicolls with holes

Many have detected similarities between Chandra and Anil Kumble. Both were fighters, both match-winners, both leg-spinners who bowled at near medium-pace and seldom turned a leg-break. Kumble won more matches for India, but he played a lot more as well and did so when India were established as a world power in cricket. Kumble was more accurate, while Chandra the more unpredictable. Where the parallels fall apart is that Kumble scored a hundred in Test cricket.

Throughout his career, Chandra was almost as popular for his match-turning bowling spells as for his remarkable ineptitude with the bat. He somehow managed to squeeze in front of the extras in the line-up, and retired with the then world record of 24 ducks and a batting average of 4.67. His collection of Test runs — 167 — remains 75 less than his number of wickets! It’s quite ironical, as his boyhood idol was leg-spinning all-rounder Richie Benaud.

Yet, it was this image of the eternal rabbit that not only endeared him to fans, but also ensured that the man at the other end strived to take much of the strike. Hence, he did feature in some good partnerships, standing most often at the safety of the other end. He started with a signature first ball duck on debut, but put on 51 with Bapu Nadkarni in his second Test. One of his not-so-proud possessions is the Gray-Nicolls bat with a scooped centre, presented to him during the Australian tour of 1977-78, to commemorate his 4 ducks in the series, including a king pair at Melbourne.

Shy and retiring by disposition, loved by teammates, Chandra nevertheless was a fierce competitor. One is pleasantly amazed by his famous words to the Kiwi umpire after a typical day of umpiring howlers, “I know he is bowled, but is he out?”

fter retirement, his relationship with accidents and physical disabilities continued unabated. He had just come back to Bangalore after a season of club cricket in Adelaide in 1991, and was set to return for a professional summer in Melbourne, when he was knocked down by a truck. Yet again, as had been the case as a 5-year old, he had to spend three tedious months in a hospital bed. Since then, he walks with crutches and is plagued by leg ulcer.

Yet, he has refused to say no to life. In 2011, he travelled all the way to Perth to attend Day One of the third Test between India and Australia. It was to celebrate the first full year without a reported case of polio in India. There could have been no better person to mark the occasion.

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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby bolero » Fri Nov 24, 2017 8:24 am


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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby squarecut » Sun Nov 26, 2017 4:52 pm

Chandrashekhar was a very endearing character among cricket fans. There was one innings against New Zealand in 1976 when every Indian bastman, even number 10 Bishan Singh Bedi reached double figures. It would be a unique record where everyone reached double figure. But could Chandrashekhar do it ? Indeed he too managed to reach double figure and thus all eleven Indian batsmen reached double figure in that innings at Kanpur. :)

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/1716 ... -of-india/

Chandrashekhar was a huge fan of Hindi film singer Mukesh and he had a big collection of Mukesh songs with him.

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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby bolero » Mon Nov 27, 2017 3:36 am

Nice info , SQ

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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby Daanav » Sat Apr 28, 2018 9:43 am

The first time that I saw B S Chandrasekhar bowl was at the Central College Ground in Bangalore in the 1964-5 "Unofficial Test Series" between Ceylon (as it was then known) and India. It was the second day of the 4-day "test" and I watched Abbas Ali Baig get caught behind for 96 and Hanumant Singh score a century through a single on the last ball before lunch. India declared at 500+ for 4 wickets after lunch and by the close of play Ceylon were several wickets down through Chandra's superb bowling. I recall that there were gasps of surprise when he clean bowled the highly rated Ceylon vice-captain Jayasinghe; held a superb running catch to dismiss captain Michael Tissera off Surti and got Fuard LBW for a duck off the last ball of the day.

I actually met Chandra in 1965 while he was visiting a sick relative in a private clinic in Bangalore owned by someone my family knew. Chandra was a rising star in Indian cricket at the time and as a gawky 10-year old schoolboy, I was excited about meeting the "freak spinner" as he was then known. There were rumours going around that his right wrist could turn 360 degrees and I recall staring at it as I was introduced. Of course, he was wearing a full-sleeved shirt and I could not make out any disability, even if it was obvious.

Chandra's inept batting was stuff of legends and there were gasps of disbelief when he scored 22 runs in the third and final test at Edgbaston of India's disastrous 1967 tour of England. In later years he even stopped taking guard when he came into bat.

But Chandra's best effort with the bat was during a Ranji Trophy match in Madras in 1967 when he shared a 150-run last wicket partnership in double-quick time with a rampaging V Subramanyam. Chandra's contribution was 10 runs before he was bowled by VV Kumar.

There has never been a proper explanation (at least none that I know of) about the prolonged dip in his career in the late 1960s. There were a few matches where he inexplicably did not bowl despite being in the side (one of those matches was the aforementioned Ranji match in Madras where he did not bowl in Madras' second innings). Then, going as part of India's squad for the 1967-8 tour of Australia and New Zealand, Chandra was sent home after the second test, seemingly on disciplinary grounds. There were rumours about his indulgence in alcohol but never substantiated. He did not play for India for over 3 years before being recalled for the 1971 tour of England, where he of course contributed to that famous victory at The Oval.

They did not face-off each other many times but the great Viv Richards was not all that hot while facing Chandrasekhar. I was attending the first ever Test match at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore (then known as the KSCA Stadium) during the West Indies 1974-5 tour of India. Although India lost that test, Chandra bamboozled Richards into getting out for low scores in both innings. They dropped Chandra for the second Test at Delhi for inexplicable reasons and Richards scored 192, his first Test century.

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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby Katto » Sat Apr 28, 2018 11:08 am

Pat Cummins has a missing finger

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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby Daanav » Sat Apr 28, 2018 7:17 pm

bolero wrote:Yet, it was this image of the eternal rabbit that not only endeared him to fans, but also ensured that the man at the other end strived to take much of the strike. Hence, he did feature in some good partnerships, standing most often at the safety of the other end. He started with a signature first ball duck on debut, but put on 51 with Bapu Nadkarni in his second Test.


If I am not mistaken, Chandra scored 19 runs during that partnership with Nadkarni. That was his highest Test score till he surpassed it with 22 at Edgbaston in 1967, something that was a talking point for days at my school.

But Chandra's greatest partnership was one hot afternoon at Chepauk in Madras (now Chennai), where he contributed 10 runs from a partnership of around 150 runs for the last wicket in just over an hour in a Ranji Trophy match. At the other end was Venkataram Subramanyam, who went from 80 to 213 not out in that partnership.

Is Chandra's record of 167 runs in 58 tests at 4.07 per innings and a top score of 22 the lowest in Test history? (for players with a minimum of 25 Tests played) I was under the impression that Danny Morrison was worse but it turns out that he was over twice better. In 48 Tests DM scored 379 runs at an average of 8.42 per innings.
Last edited by Daanav on Mon Apr 30, 2018 8:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby raja » Sun Apr 29, 2018 5:35 am

I think you might have got Danny Morrison confused with Chris Martin.

2.36 average in 71 Tests; HS of 12*.
http://www.espncricinfo.com/newzealand/ ... 37700.html

I've heard about that partnership of Chandra with Subramanyam - was before my time.

Chandra was one of my two favourite cricketers, growing up.
The other was Vishy.
The first two names I'd look up in a scorecard. :-)
In those days we didn't have TV, so we'd depend totally on radio commentary.
I'd listen, without much hope, as the opposition batsmen would build up a partnership.
Chandra would go for a few too - he bowled long hops every now and then.
But if there was one bowler who was most likely to get a breakthrough, it was Chandra.
He could bowl an unplayable delivery more than any other Indian bowler I know.
As long as he was bowling, the batsman was never sure what to expect.

Chandra is my avatar here - has been for a very long time. :-)

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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby raja » Sun Apr 29, 2018 6:11 am

Daanav wrote: He did not play for India for over 3 years before being recalled for the 1971 tour of England, where he of course contributed to that famous victory at The Oval.


He had a scooter accident in 1968 or 1969, didn't he? I've heard that kept him out of the game for a couple of years, missing the home series against Australia and New Zealand.

Daanav wrote:They dropped Chandra for the second Test at Delhi for inexplicable reasons and Richards scored 192, his first Test century.

That was the politics of the time.

Bedi had been dropped for the first Test (Bangalore) - I think due to disciplinary action following issues at High Commissioner's place during the Indian team's tour of England in 1974.

This infuriated Bedi supporters, who on the eve of the second Test to be held at the Kotla, Delhi (Bedi's home ground), put up banners, saying "No Bedi, no Test".

Also, Tiger Pataudi had been ruled out due to injury after the Bangalore Test.

As a last-minute decision,
- Bedi was reinstated
- Venkataraghavan (whose captaincy skills were somehow very highly regarded) was made captain
- Prasanna (who really fancied the captaincy, especially considering he had captained Karnataka to the Ranji Trophy just a few months earlier) was pissed off, considering he was much senior to Venkat. In fact, he and Engineer were the seniormost - one of them was expected to take over from Pataudi.
He was placated, and retained in the side - cos dropping him and retaining Venkat, anointed as captain, would be scandalous.

So the axe fell on poor Chandra.
Two off-spinners and a left-armer, when you have a quality leg-break/googly bowler who has just had a successful Test match.

Chandra was thankfully brought back for the next Test at the Eden Gardens - and he spun India to a famous victory.
I remember it was New Year's Day 1975 when India won - we were celebrating the win, more than New Year's Day. :-)

Prasanna, who had a sharp cricketing brain, never got to captain India.
The captaincy went from Pataudi to Wadekar to Venkat (briefly, and for World Cups) to Bedi to Gavaskar.

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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby Daanav » Sun Apr 29, 2018 8:22 am

raja wrote:I think you might have got Danny Morrison confused with Chris Martin.

2.36 average in 71 Tests; HS of 12*.
http://www.espncricinfo.com/newzealand/ ... 37700.html

I've heard about that partnership of Chandra with Subramanyam - was before my time.

You are right. It was Chris Martin that I was thinking about. I recognised his bald head in the picture. His batting made Chandra look like Bradman by comparison.

Speaking of Morrison though, he was called the "Duck Man" for his record number of ducks in Tests. Having said that, he once stood with Nathan Astle for almost 3 hours for the 11th wicket to deny England victory in a Test about 20 years ago. Great guy Morrison; glad he is the voice of IPL!

Back to Chandra, I had the privilege of listening to the commentary live on radio to that last wicket partnership with V Subramanyam. Even though the match was being played in Madras, the local crowd got into the thrills after a while as VS took their bowlers to the cleaners and beyond. One of my fondest memories of a bygone era in cricket.

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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby Daanav » Sun Apr 29, 2018 8:39 am

Raja, about that 'scooter accident' - I don't think it had anything to do with it. I recall that cricketing era very well and Chandra did NOT miss many Ranji or Duleep matches during his absence from the Indian cricket team.

During the 1966-7 season, there were odd and inexplicable incidents where Chandra not only did not bowl, but was not on the field. When West Indies played South Zone in Bangalore during their 1966-7 tour, he was in the team but only bowled one over in the WI first innings following cries of "we want Chandra Sekhar" from the crowd. True, Prasanna was going great guns and took 8 wickets but that still did not explain Chandra's lack of bowling. Then he went off the field in WI second innings and did not bat during SZ's second, when they were skittled out for 62. As I left the grounds, I saw Chandra riding off on his motorcycle.

Then there was the incident where he did not bowl at all during Madras' second innings the aforementioned Ranji Trophy match with Mysore.

But his troubles really started during India's 1967-8 tour of Australia and New Zealand. Midway through the Australian leg of the tour, Chandra was sent home, ostensibly on disciplinary grounds. There were rumours at the time of alcohol indulgence. Back home, he continued to play Ranji Trophy matches and was also in the South Zone team against Australia in their 1969-70 tour of India but not considered for the Tests despite the fact that India were struggling. Then he was bowling well during the 1970-71 domestic season but excluded for the 1971 tour of West Indies (Gavaskar's rise to fame). In fact, the Indian team was originally scheduled to go directly from the Caribbean to England in 1971 but then the itinerary was changed and they returned home first. It became big news when Chandra was included for the England tour and the rest is history.

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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby raja » Sun Apr 29, 2018 11:01 am

Wow, this is all news to me.
Need to find out more.
I started following the game only from the summer of 1974 - that disastrous tour to England, to be precise.

The typical story of that time is that he got injured, and therefore missed playing cricket.
But if, as you say, he did play domestic cricket and was only shut out from international cricket, then it is all very intriguing.
Do you know on what disciplinary grounds he was sent back from that 1967-68 tour to Australia?
This article, while talking about another person, makes a fleeting reference to an "injured" Chandrasekar on that tour.
https://www.mid-day.com/articles/clayto ... s/16800194

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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby Daanav » Sun Apr 29, 2018 4:20 pm

raja wrote:Do you know on what disciplinary grounds he was sent back from that 1967-68 tour to Australia?
It was definitely on disciplinary grounds but exactly what, no one seemed to be sure at the time. Mind you, I was 12 years old at the time and not mature enough to read between lines. I know that Pataudi and one other player were involved but in what capacity, I don't know. I certainly recall that alcohol was mentioned by several people and even the suggestion that Pataudi got away with something. It is possible that 3 players were found inebriated at an inappropriate time and two of them were Pataudi and Chandra. The latter might have ended -up as the fall guy.

I don't recall if Chandra played domestic cricket in the still ongoing 1967-8 domestic season after his premature return from Oz. He might have done (can you check?). But he was fully active during the 1968-9, 1969-70 and 70-1 seasons, when he was ignored by Indian selectors.

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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby Paddles » Wed May 02, 2018 4:45 am

Daanav wrote:
raja wrote:I think you might have got Danny Morrison confused with Chris Martin.

2.36 average in 71 Tests; HS of 12*.
http://www.espncricinfo.com/newzealand/ ... 37700.html

I've heard about that partnership of Chandra with Subramanyam - was before my time.


Speaking of Morrison though, he was called the "Duck Man" for his record number of ducks in Tests. Having said that, he once stood with Nathan Astle for almost 3 hours for the 11th wicket to deny England victory in a Test about 20 years ago.


That was the first test of the series and his last test match. He was promptly dropped never to play for NZ again. Talk about bittersweet.

The same fate was shared by Monty Panesar in 2009 Ashes first test doing much the same thing to salvage a draw against Australia. Only to be dropped. But Monty managed to earn a recall in 2012.
"Your inclination to assume and contradict is typical of Narcissism which is nothing about being pretty like the Narcissus fable."

HAHA!

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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby Daanav » Wed May 02, 2018 9:14 am

In the 1960s Indian international cricketers were more approachable than later and as a kid I have met V Subramanyam, Prasanna and of course Chandrasekhar. Chandra was an odd character - rather very private and sometimes seemingly in his own world. I played High School cricket on the same grounds where Bangalore's City Cricketers - Chandra's club before he became famous - practiced and got to speak some senior players who knew and played with the man. One of them, nicknamed "Anku Ram", once told me that Chandra sometimes stopped in the middle of team conversation and simply walked away without explanation. But that did not affect his bowling prowess and so no one minded.

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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby bolero » Mon May 07, 2018 8:03 am

As a kid, I heard a lot about the Indian spin greats - Bedi , Prasanna, Chandra and Venkat.

The hairstyle kept by Chandra / Venkat etc was also a prevalent fad those days.

However, when I started watching active cricket, all of them had retired.

I had to be content watching Maninder Singh, Hirwani, Ravi Shastri, Arshad Ayub etc. Sivaramakrishnan played for a short time.

Later, Kumble made his debut in 1990.

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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby Daanav » Mon May 07, 2018 9:39 am

What those of you under 60 years of age now may not understand that the "cricketing atmosphere" in India in those days - the earlier part of Chandrasekhar's career - was a lot different from now. For starters, we had no TV and so listening to the running commentary on the radio was something everyone did. While walking along the street, it was quite usual to stop a complete stranger with a transistor radio to his ear and ask the score. Likewise, going to cricket matches, even Ranji Trophy ones, was something of an event; we bought score cards and kept our own scores during the match.

Early on his career, B S Chandrasekhar was very much part of this atmosphere. I recall a Duleep Trophy match between South Zone & North Zone in Bangalore in 1966 when Chandra was fielding at long leg, close to where we were sitting. There were quite a few cheers when M L Jaisimha called him to bowl and after Chandra took a wicket, he was cheered all the way back to his fielding position at the end of the over. Despite all that adulation, he remained humble and approachable, even though he did not say much.

Those were the days. The atmosphere began to change by the late 60s and now it is completely different.

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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby squarecut » Mon May 07, 2018 1:27 pm

Stopping a stranger with transistor radio and asking him for score- that was prevalent till early 1980s.

During my school days (1970s), I recall returning back from school in 1976 and stopping near a home to listen to commentary of an India vs New Zealand test. New Zealand was down to last few wickets. I and my mates peered through the window and asked the person inside- what is the score ?

Today, it would be considered invasion of privacy, but that person did not mind. He gave us the score. Time was running out and the New Zealand tailenders were putting up stiff resistance. The man with the transistor opined that the ball needed to be handed over to Chandrashekhar or else the match was going to end in a tame draw. After a few minutes, we left and walked towards our respective homes. When I reached home some half an hour later and switched on the radio, India had won the match, and indeed it was Chandrashekhar who had done the trick. :)

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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby Daanav » Sun May 13, 2018 9:33 am

Yes, but I had the opportunity to be a cricket fan in the 60s as well as later and can see the difference clearly. Up to around 1967 international and domestic cricket still retained that 'traditional' feel to it and many school students lived and breathed cricket. For example, someone seeing B S Chandrasekhar walking along MG Road in Bangalore would be talked about for a couple of days at least. Pataudi or Jaisimha visiting Bangalore for a Ranji Trophy match was a big enough event to make more than a few of us create excuses to miss school and attend at least for a day (not appropriate I know, but there it is) and we would be listening to the Ashes commentary from Australia at 7 am in the morning. That sort of enthusiasm began to fade by the late 60s and although fandom was still there, it was not the same.

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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby Daanav » Mon May 13, 2019 7:11 pm

This one is for Raja, Squarecut and anyone else interested. As update on B S Chandrasekhar

A few days ago I spoke to someone who is now 73 years old (and of very clear mind) who is a great fan of 'traditional' cricket and of B S Chandrasekhar. We discussed BSC in great length and remembering the discussion on these forums from a couple of years ago, I asked him about it. I know that he had followed Chandra's career over the years.

He is absolutely certain that Chandra was sent back from Australia during the 1967-8 tour for disciplinary reasons and NOT any injury, although that was used as a cover story in some media. Apparently, Chandra, Pataudi and one other unidentified player were caught inebriated when they were not supposed to be drinking and since they could not disrupt the whole team, one man had to be the fall guy and it was Chandra. After returning to India, he did play in some Ranji games in the same season and certainly in the next two while not even being considered by India.

My senior friend went on to say that in his and many others' opinion, Chandra did have some sort of problem throughout his career that affected his performance as a bowler. Although there is no definite evidence, it is now believed to have been alcohol. Chandra was a very nice man but somewhat gullible and subject to be influenced by high living. Don't forget that he was not even 19 when he made his international debut and it is possible that success might have affected his thinking. In the mid-60s he was considered almost as a bowling magician in India and leaving him out of a First Class Mysore XI was unthinkable. Yet, there were games in which he was part of the team and yet bowled very little or not at all. My friend and his contemporaries think that if Chandra had a stronger and more stable personality, he would have been #1 bowler of all time. That might be a figure of speech but look at how great batsmen like Viv Richards could not figure out Chandra bowling at his best.

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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby raja » Tue May 14, 2019 7:59 am

Thanks, Daanav.
This is very much possible.
In any case, in those days, media was very much limited - so you only probably got news as was given to you by the captain or team management.
In today's world, it would be very difficult to get away with a story - at that time it would have been easier.
Besides, I guess the taboo associated with alcohol in those days was much more.

Sad that Chandra didn't play to his potential.
He will always be seen as a match-winning bowler (which he was), but he could have been so much more.

He was my favourite bowler when I was in high school.
He could be very erratic at times, especially when compared to Bedi, but he could also produce that unplayable delivery to break any partnership.

Ok, now that you've brought up the subject, another question.

From what I've read, Chandra had a scooter injury in the late 60s - which kept him out of the game right till the 1971 tour of England.
So he missed lots of games (including the entire 1969-70 season against New Zealand and Australia and the 1971 tour of Windies.

Was that scooter injury due to him being drunk or something?
Also, could his alcohol habit have been a reason for him missing some of these games?

In particular, the tour of the Windies in 1971.
Was he fit, but not considered?
If he was considered such an ace bowler, why would he not be considered for the tour?

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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby Daanav » Tue May 14, 2019 5:13 pm

raja wrote:
Ok, now that you've brought up the subject, another question.

From what I've read, Chandra had a scooter injury in the late 60s - which kept him out of the game right till the 1971 tour of England.
So he missed lots of games (including the entire 1969-70 season against New Zealand and Australia and the 1971 tour of Windies.

Was that scooter injury due to him being drunk or something?
Also, could his alcohol habit have been a reason for him missing some of these games?

In particular, the tour of the Windies in 1971.
Was he fit, but not considered?
If he was considered such an ace bowler, why would he not be considered for the tour?


Right. I can tell you that Chandra played a few remaining Ranji games in 1967-8 after he was sent home from Australia.

He certainly played in Ranji and Duleep trophy games in 1968-9 when India did NOT have any international season. An England visit was on the cards but never materialised. That disruption of international cricket in the late 60s had something to do, at least in part, of the advent of the all professional game which was not liked by everyone.

Chandra definitely played for Mysore in Ranji and for South Zone in Duleep Trophies games in 1969-70. He was chosen for the Australia vs South Zone game in Bangalore which I attended on all 3 days. I clearly recall Bill Lawry hitting a six each off Prasanna, Chandra and Venkataraghavan on his way to a century in the first innings. Chandra was not even considered for the Indian team even though he bowled well in Ranji games.

Here is the score card of that aforementioned Oz vs SZ game. http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/1727 ... ia-1969-70

I don't know about any scooter injury. There might have been one but it could not have been serious, certainly not career-affecting. I know that during the West Indies tour of 1966-7 he had a motorcycle and did not bat at all in the SZ second innings when they were shot out for 62. I left the ground when Milka Singh was out and saw Chandra heading off on his Mo-bike with the match still not over!

That scorecard is more than interesting: http://static.espncricinfo.com/db/ARCHI ... N1967.html

At that time, my contemporaries and I were too young to read between the lines and the adults did not speak openly about someone who had attained iconic status in Bangalore. But looking back now, there were some really odd traits in an otherwise very likable and highly talented bowler.

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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby Daanav » Tue May 14, 2019 9:03 pm

Updating on this, I am old enough to know that "unfit" was an official excuse used to cover-up for other reasons why certain players were unavailable in those days. Politics played some part of course but more often than not, it was something personal. In Chandra's case this happened quite regularly even at Ranji level, sometimes in the middle of a game in which he was playing (recall that memorable game with the last wicket century partnership between V Subramaniam and Chandra against Madras? Chandra did not bowl in the latter team's second innings).

Looking back at what I still clearly remember about B S Chandrasekhar and combining it with present knowledge, I have a strong feeling that he had Asperger Syndrome.

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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby squarecut » Wed May 15, 2019 6:38 am

Chandrashekhar's scooter injury was in 1980s, after his playing days were over. He had walked with crutches for considerable time, several months, may be more. It was at that time that I realised the fact that cricket was not a game that paid well during his days. It was only from 1990s onwards that cricket became a viable career option for a top cricketer. Chandrashekhar was driving a scooter because that is what he could afford.

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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby Daanav » Wed May 15, 2019 7:02 am

That makes more sense.

Chandra's career really had 2 phases. The second phase from 1971 onwards was more 'normal' and there are not many unusual things to write about there. But the more mysterious and interesting part is from 1964, when he burst into the scene as a gawky 19 year-old till the unofficial suspension in 1968 and a few years later. It makes me wonder if he received some form of counselling in the late 60s.

The young Chandrasekhar was really odd. I watched many Ranji and a few Duleep games with him playing and he gave the impression that the team had 10 players plus himself. While fielding he would stand somewhere between square leg and long leg (occasionally the leg slip) looking completely cut off from what was going on. He seldom made eye contact with anyone but was quite a good fielder, perhaps the only right hander in history who threw the ball from the deep with his left arm. When the players went in for lunch or tea breaks, he would stroll in on his own and likewise remain largely aloof during the on-field drinks breaks. Because of his fame, the audience would try to draw his attention when he was fielding in the deep but he seldom responded. Finally, there were those inexplicable absences from the field, including not bowling at all even when he was uninjured and where his services could have turned the game. Chants "We want Chandra-sekhar!" from an uncomprehending crowd were very common in those days.

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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby raja » Wed May 15, 2019 8:52 am

squarecut wrote:Chandrashekhar's scooter injury was in 1980s, after his playing days were over. He had walked with crutches for considerable time, several months, may be more. It was at that time that I realised the fact that cricket was not a game that paid well during his days. It was only from 1990s onwards that cricket became a viable career option for a top cricketer. Chandrashekhar was driving a scooter because that is what he could afford.


Yes, I remember this very well.

But there was also this story that he had a scooter accident in the late 60s, and that kept him out of cricket.
But as Daanav has pointed out, he did play Ranji/Duleep games during that period, so unless he got the injury either side of this, we don't know that this is true.

Even the opening post on this thread says

"The first few years saw his bowling suffer because of some deplorable fielding — especially close to the wicket. In 1967, he travelled to England, picking up 57 wickets in all, 16 in the Tests, in spite of catches frequently slipping through fingers.

However, he suffered a leg injury during the next season. And when he was progressing towards recovery he fell off his scooter along his commute to work. The accident led to his missing the home seasons and the tours that followed, before the rousing comeback of 1971. "

So the question still remains - did he have a scooter accident in the late 60s at all? And was it serious enough for him to miss a significant amount of cricket (including international cricket)?

https://www.cricketcountry.com/articles ... apon-26491

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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby raja » Wed May 15, 2019 9:23 am

Daanav wrote:
raja wrote:
Ok, now that you've brought up the subject, another question.

From what I've read, Chandra had a scooter injury in the late 60s - which kept him out of the game right till the 1971 tour of England.
So he missed lots of games (including the entire 1969-70 season against New Zealand and Australia and the 1971 tour of Windies.

Was that scooter injury due to him being drunk or something?
Also, could his alcohol habit have been a reason for him missing some of these games?

In particular, the tour of the Windies in 1971.
Was he fit, but not considered?
If he was considered such an ace bowler, why would he not be considered for the tour?


Right. I can tell you that Chandra played a few remaining Ranji games in 1967-8 after he was sent home from Australia.

He certainly played in Ranji and Duleep trophy games in 1968-9 when India did NOT have any international season. An England visit was on the cards but never materialised. That disruption of international cricket in the late 60s had something to do, at least in part, of the advent of the all professional game which was not liked by everyone.

Chandra definitely played for Mysore in Ranji and for South Zone in Duleep Trophies games in 1969-70. He was chosen for the Australia vs South Zone game in Bangalore which I attended on all 3 days. I clearly recall Bill Lawry hitting a six each off Prasanna, Chandra and Venkataraghavan on his way to a century in the first innings. Chandra was not even considered for the Indian team even though he bowled well in Ranji games.

Here is the score card of that aforementioned Oz vs SZ game. http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/1727 ... ia-1969-70

I don't know about any scooter injury. There might have been one but it could not have been serious, certainly not career-affecting. I know that during the West Indies tour of 1966-7 he had a motorcycle and did not bat at all in the SZ second innings when they were shot out for 62. I left the ground when Milka Singh was out and saw Chandra heading off on his Mo-bike with the match still not over!

That scorecard is more than interesting: http://static.espncricinfo.com/db/ARCHI ... N1967.html

At that time, my contemporaries and I were too young to read between the lines and the adults did not speak openly about someone who had attained iconic status in Bangalore. But looking back now, there were some really odd traits in an otherwise very likable and highly talented bowler.


Thanks, Daanav.
Interesting insights.

So it looks like there was a lot of mystery surrounding Chandra, esp in his first few years.
Missing games.
Or playing, but inexplicably not bowling.
There, but not there types.
I remember him only from 1974 (that horrible England tour).
This would have been during his Phase-2 (as you put it).

Still don't know why, if he was picking wickets in 1969-70, he didn't get picked for the West Indies tour of 1971.
I've read that there was some politics surrounding cricket selection at that time.
The Merchant - Pataudi politics.

It was before my time but I've always been intrigued by it.
A whole lot of players made their debut in the late 60s - in that 1969-70 home season. (Mohinder and Vishy in the Aussie series and Solkar, Ashok Mankad, Gandotra, Chetan Chauhan, Ajit Pai, Ambar Roy in the NZ series).

What I've heard is that some of the older players (like Borde) were eased out as Merchant wanted to blood some youngsters.
Apparently, even for the captaincy, it was Merchant's casting vote as Chairman of Selectors that saw Wadekar captain, replacing Pataudi.

Tell us more about cricket in the late 60s.
It has always fascinated me.

Also, why was Mohinder not picked for many seasons after making an impressive debut in 1969-70?
And Chauhan too made a comeback in 1976-77, but missed out for 2-3 years before that.

There must have been some politics involved. :-)

Don't disappoint me by saying there wasn't. :-)




Btw, while looking at that scoreboard, came across this article about that Aus vs South Zone game you mention here.
http://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/ ... lians-1969

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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby raja » Wed May 15, 2019 9:28 am

Btw, this piece gives a reason why Vijay Merchant gave his casting vote for Wadekar, instead of MAK Pataudi.
I don't think Merchant would have been so petty.
More likely, this is gossip, no?

"Pataudi lost his captaincy in a rather queer and what seems to be an old-fashioned movie story of vendetta.
In 1946, due to the differences in selection committee, Vijay Merchant lost captaincy to the Nawab of Pataudi Sr.
After a quarter century, In 1971, when there was a deadlock as to who should be the captain of the Indian team, Merchant, now as chairman of selectors, put his casting vote in favour of Ajit Wadekar instead of the reigning captain Mansur Ali Khan, still only 29!
It is still a topic for hot discussion in cricketing circles!"

https://www.news18.com/blogs/india/e-r- ... 46087.html

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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby raja » Wed May 15, 2019 9:29 am

Btw, this thread has now veered into broader terrain than just Chandra. :-)

But I guess that's ok - let's use this for all Indian cricket before 1974. :-)

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Re: On Chandra, and Indian cricket pre-1974

Postby raja » Wed May 15, 2019 9:31 am

Changed the title of this thread. :-)

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Re: On Chandra, and Indian cricket pre-1974

Postby Daanav » Wed May 15, 2019 12:22 pm

There are so many points raised here and so I'll try to answer them AFAIK without quoting you. One think to remember is that in 1966-7 I was 12 years old and so some of the more subtle issues are from the perspective of a youngster and not an adult.

For starters, we were all cricket mad in ways that never happen today. There were fewer games, no limited overs cricket and we all followed the Sports & Pastime magazine avidly.

Chandra might have had a scooter accident in the late 60s but if he injured his leg, it would certainly have been minor. I certainly don't recall any prolonged absence due to that but with him being excluded occasionally by Mysore or South Zone teams only to pop up again for the next game points to something other than injury. I checked further after my last post - by the time Chandra was sent back from the Oz tour of 1967-8, Mysore were already out of Ranji Trophy and the Duleep matches for that season had been completed before the tour. Therefore, it is quite likely that there were no First Class games left for Chandra to plat in 1967-8.

That injury must have been in 1968-9 when India played no international cricket. Chandra himself missed a few games but kept reappearing here and there. I recall that season well for another reason - a distant cousin a year younger than I was involved in a major traffic accident and spent months convalescing at our house. We talked a lot of cricket during that time and Chandra was certainly one of his favourite players.

Australia and NZ toured India in 1969-70 and I have already proved to you that Chandra did play a lot First Class cricket in that season, including being part of the South Zone team against Australia. But he was completely ignored for the international games - not even in the 16 shortlist - so much so that we youngsters thought that he had been banned permanently by the Indian national team. Everyone believed that it had something to do with that misdemeanor in Australia 2 years earlier. Once again, I went to a few Ranji games and Chandra was very much in it.

He continued to be active in domestic games in the 1970-1 season and for reasons which I mentioned above, we did not even expect him to be chosen for the 1971 Spring tour of the West Indies - and so no one was surprised when he was left out. India were originally supposed to go to England directly from the Windies but that plan changed when the dates of the Indian tour of England were postponed a bit. They came home victorious from the Windies and all of us were very very pleasantly surprised when "'Sekhar" as the newspapers called him sometimes was included in the England 16. It was very big news to us, talked about days in schools.

There was quite a lot of politics and changes in the cricketing atmosphere during the late 1960s in India. A major reason was the advent of the all-professional game which did not suit players like Pataudi, Abbas Ali Baig, Hanumant Singh, Jaisimha, Kunderan etc, whereas Borde, Sardesai, Engineer, Wadekar and many upcoming young players were happy. By 1969-70 Borde had already past his sell-by date and so his phasing out was not unexpected. In a parallel but different political issue, Pataudi and similar people lost their Royal titles and so "Nawab of Pataudi Jr" was henceforth referred to as Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi. Many former players like Baig, Kunderan etc, some only in their early 30s, allowed their First Class careers to fade while others hung on a bit albeit shadows of their former selves. Venkat and Bedi blended easily into the new system and Chandra got a new lease of life in 1971. Prasanna hung around for a few more years but was never the bowler that he was in the 1960s, one whom none other than Gary Sobers said was the best spinner he had ever faced. The era of Vishwanath, Gavaskar etc had started but Indian cricket as a whole had lost something that it never regained.

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Re: On Chandra, and Indian cricket pre-1974

Postby givemeahug786 » Wed May 15, 2019 2:12 pm

i liked vishy more than Yashpal sharma and Mohinder Amernath.i remembered his Square cut
he has mastery for that particular shot.i remembered his many great knock for india including test century on debut 0 and 137 with 25 fours.Debut FC innings with Double plus his 97 not out vs WI at Madras vs Andy Roberts & comp.
his contribution when india successfully chase 404 in 4th innings were remarkable.Married with Gavaskars sister Kavita >> Vishy one of great talent for india at number 4.

he re-called english keeper at bombay test when he lead india (umpire given eng keeper out ) Keeper went on to hits 100 india lost that test.
BCCI not treat him well after the tour of pakistan
he was Left out never called back
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Re: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: The man who turned his disability into a lethal weapon

Postby givemeahug786 » Wed May 15, 2019 2:13 pm

Katto wrote:Pat Cummins has a missing finger


WTF?
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Re: On Chandra, and Indian cricket pre-1974

Postby Daanav » Wed May 15, 2019 4:16 pm

One of the great characters of Indian cricket from the 1960s that Raja and others might have missed seeing was the late Budhi Kunderan, wicketkeeper batsman for India and Mysore. He appeared in international cricket in the early 1960s, competing with Faroukh Engineer for the position of Wicketkeeper-batsman. Partly due to the latter fitness issues at the time, Kunderan became the first choice WK for the next 6 years or so. But his inconsistency with the bat and confrontations with authority made him eventually lose his place to Engineer and by 1970 Kunderan was preparing to move to Australia, where he eventually settled.

Kunderan was an extremely colorful character and with him around you never got a dull moment. At a batsman, he was terribly inconsistent and unpredictable; he could get out flashing outside the off stump off the first ball from a second rate bowler but on his day was capable of destroying the best. He scored what is even today one of the most memorable Test centuries in Madras during England's 1963-4 tour of India. His batting style was wild and frequently contained cross-batted strokes (which were less acceptable in those days) that earned him the title "koltay" locally. I once saw him destroy Charlie Griffith in his prime on his way to a century in a First Class match during the Windies 1966-7 tour.

As a wicket keeper, he was very enthusiastic, often with grossly exaggerated reactions while gathering the ball. On one occasion he did a complete 360-degree roll while gathering a long throw from the deep simply to enliven the atmosphere. He did his stumpings and run outs with theatrical gestures, grinning broadly at the victim.

I had a personal encounter with Kunderan early during the 1967-8 Ranji Trophy season - I think it was October 1967. After the second day of the 3-day match in Bangalore between Mysore and Madras, the match hung in balance. I was a spectator and after the day's play was over, we went over to one of the local cinemas for the evening show. When there was a bit of excitement among other audience at the cinema, I saw that Kunderan, who played for Mysore had arrived at the cinema in company with the Madras opener K R Rajagopal.

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Re: On Chandra, and Indian cricket pre-1974

Postby squarecut » Thu May 16, 2019 5:48 am

Daanav wrote:I had a personal encounter with Kunderan early during the 1967-8 Ranji Trophy season - I think it was October 1967. After the second day of the 3-day match in Bangalore between Mysore and Madras, the match hung in balance. I was a spectator and after the day's play was over, we went over to one of the local cinemas for the evening show. When there was a bit of excitement among other audience at the cinema, I saw that Kunderan, who played for Mysore had arrived at the cinema in company with the Madras opener K R Rajagopal.


I had a similar experience in Secunderabad when I was posted there during 1990s. I was taking tea in a restaurant in platform number 1 of Secunderabad Railway station. I found a person looking familiar and wearing chappal sipping tea adjacent to me. I took a closer look and found that he was Shivlal Yadav, a former off spinner for India and an official of Hyderabad Cricket association at that time. :)

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Re: On Chandra, and Indian cricket pre-1974

Postby Daanav » Thu May 16, 2019 8:31 am

Two other cricketers that I have actually met as a kid are EAS Prasanna and V Subramanyam. It was off season in 1965 when VS had a small fracture of his arm and was in a cast. Our house was behind a local private X-ray clinic and when I heard that these two were coming, I went around for a look at was introduced to both. Prasanna had driven VS in for the latter's X-ray.

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Re: On Chandra, and Indian cricket pre-1974

Postby raja » Thu May 16, 2019 11:10 am

Very interesting, Daanav.
Thanks for so much information.

You are right - Kunderan was before my time.

In fact, most of the supposedly colourful/interesting cricketers of the late 60s/early 70s were mostly before my time.
Jaisimha, Baig, Durrani, MAK Pataudi, Engineer, Kunderan, Abid Ali - all considered characters in their own way.

I started following only from the 1974 England tour onwards (which is also why I changed this title thread to pre-1974). :-))

By then, all of these, except for Engineer and Pataudi had already finished their international careers. They were still playing domestic cricket, but were largely at the absolute fag end of their careers.

Even Pataudi had just those 3 Tests against Windies in 1974-75 to play - and he was a pale shadow of his former self by then anyway.
Engineer played on that 1974 tour of England, then the home series against West Indies (got a pair at the Wankhede), played the World Cup in 1975 - and that was it.
Abid had that tour of England - he didn't do badly either, but was never picked for Tests after that.

I felt very short-changed by it all.
Would much rather have had Jaisimha as my opener than Anshuman Gaekwad. :-)

What made me feel far worse is that I started following cricket just at the time Sobers ended his international career.
And Rohan Kanhai too had played his last Test, though he did play in World Cup 1975.

But it's great to read about cricketers of the 60s.

Thank you.

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Re: On Chandra, and Indian cricket pre-1974

Postby raja » Thu May 16, 2019 11:13 am

Now that we've got Abid Ali also on the radar, what did you make of him, Daanav?

His Test career ended rather abruptly, didn't it?

Ok, he was 34-35, but he was still doing well.

It's not like there was a great all-rounder waiting in the wings in 1975.

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Re: On Chandra, and Indian cricket pre-1974

Postby Daanav » Thu May 16, 2019 11:45 am

The problem with Abid Ali was that he was a good all rounder at Ranji Trophy level but not really international standard. If he was around today, he would never get even close to the national team.

But India had a serious dearth of pace bowlers in the mid-sixties. Ramakant Desai was overworked and already planning early retirement when he was recalled for the 1967-8 Australian tour. That tour was also introduction of Abid Ali into the international scene and while he had a couple of good batting innings, he never took off as a bowler either then or at any time later in his career. In fact, his only job as an opening bowler seemed to be to scruff up the ball just enough for the spinners to come on. Frankly, you cannot blame the selectors for squeezing him out at the first chance because he had not done anything worthwhile with bat or ball despite being a very willing hard worker. The situation was not fair on either the team or the individual.

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Re: On Chandra, and Indian cricket pre-1974

Postby raja » Fri May 17, 2019 4:26 am

Before the big 4 (Imran, Kapil, Hadlee, Botham), all rounders were not held to a high standard, I think.
The fact that they could "bat a bit and bowl a bit" was good enough to be called an all-rounder. :-)

Abid Ali, Eknath Solkar, Rusi Surti, V Subramanya fall in this category, I suppose.

I'd say Durani and Bapu Nadkarni were at a higher level.

At a world level, there were the likes of Sobers (in his very own league) and Illingworth and Titmus.

When I read about Abid Ali, I read about his tireless energy and excellent close-in fielding (next only to Solkar in the side).

Considering quality of Indian fielding at that time, this had to count for something. :-)

But yes, overall, possibly more workmanlike than having the ability to run through a side.

Was a big hitter too, right?

Would have done well in the IPL. :-)

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Re: On Chandra, and Indian cricket pre-1974

Postby Daanav » Fri May 17, 2019 5:19 am

"Workmanlike" would be an apt description for Abid Ali on the field. What he lacked in real talent he made-up by his tireless energy and enthusiasm.

He was never more than a mediocre bowler even at Ranji level and playing for India, as I said before, he and Solkar were only expected to get the ball ready for the spinners. Any wickets would more than likely be due to batting errors by the opposition and were considered as a bonus.

Abid was marginally better as a batsman playing for Hyderabad and could occasionally pitch in with good cameos, including as a makeshift opener. But in general these were few and far between and most of the time he got out for low scores. If he had played for IPL, he probably would have got in the occasional batting contribution but if he had bowled, you can be certain that his 4 overs would have very regularly gone for over 50 runs.

If he had put concentration and real effort into it, Salim Durrani could have been a really good all-rounder both for Rajasthan and India. The problem was that a lot of the time his approach was too languid and he seemed distracted by other things. He was NOT a bad fielder but made so little effort that he would have made today's Chris Gayle seem like a gazelle by comparison. Durrani's case - lots of talent but not enough effort - was a complete opposite to that of Abid Ali.

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Re: On Chandra, and Indian cricket pre-1974

Postby raja » Fri May 17, 2019 11:58 am

Thanks, Daanav.
I wonder if we'd have had IPL in the late 60s (say 1969), who would have been picked in an auction, and who not?
I'll open a separate thread for this.

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Re: On Chandra, and Indian cricket pre-1974

Postby Daanav » Fri May 17, 2019 1:10 pm

Cricket in the 1960s in India was quite different to what it is now. At the time India were very much the poor cousins of World Cricket and often lost even domestic series. England seldom sent a full strength team to tour India. Fans took pride with tiny achievements - a six by Durrani of the then much feared Charlie Griffith in the opening Test of the WI 1966-7 series in Bombay was a big talking point for a week. Listening live to it, I thought the commentator was going to pass out with excitement.

The fielding was terrible and dropped catches were common. Dilip Sardesai was the worst and on one occasion dropped 6 catches in an innings - I don't recall all the details but that must be a record. There were newspaper cartoon about his catching inability.

But while international games involving India were usually one-sided (except at home against NZ), Ranji and Duleep games were usually more exciting at watchable as the teams were more balanced and guys like Kunderan, Subramaniyam, Jaisimha etc were in their element.

The victory in the 1971 series away against the formidable West indies changed the outlook and expectations in India.