Music from the string quartet that raised the level of Indian cricket


India have had extra profitable spinners since the final of the spin quartet performed his ultimate Test in the 1980s; two of them, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh have claimed extra wickets than the 4 of them put collectively in almost the identical quantity of Tests mixed. Yet, the quartet had a romance and a vulnerability that has ensured their attraction has wafted over generations.

Three of the 4 rejoice important milestones over the subsequent few weeks. The oldest (and probably craftiest), Erapalli Prasanna turns 80 subsequent month, 5 days after his Karnataka teammate Bhagwat Chandrasekhar turns 75. Srinivas Venkatraghavan turns 75 too — subsequent week, actually. The child of the lot, Bishan Bedi celebrates his 74th birthday in September.

Winning mixture

From January 1962, when Prasanna made his debut, until September 1983 when Venkatraghavan performed his ultimate Test, a number of of the quartet performed in 98 matches. India received 23 of them. Which was large for a staff which had received solely seven of their previous 76 Tests.

Till they got here alongside, India had not received a Test overseas. Encouraged by skipper Tiger Pataudi, who believed that the greatest bowlers ought to play somewhat than a mix of nice spin and mediocre tempo, the foursome stamped their mark on the recreation.

Prasanna’s six for 94 led to India’s first win overseas, in Dunedin, 1968. Three years later, Venkatraghavan’s 5 for 95 was India’s greatest in Port-of-Spain as they beat the West Indies for the first time. Chandrasekhar’s six for 38 wrapped up the Oval Test and the sequence in England.

When India beat Australia for the first time, Chandrasekhar had figures of six for 52 and 6 for 52 in Melbourne in 1977-78. The solely participant to be a component of all these groups was Bedi who claimed 16 wickets in these victory Tests.

Poetry in movement

To communicate of the most interesting solely in phrases of numbers does them a disservice; it someway diminishes the sport too.

Those who by no means noticed Bedi bowl missed one of the nice sights of the recreation. It wasn’t simply poetry in movement, it was a selected sort of poetry — a love sonnet maybe, the place you needed to show the magnificence, splendour, longing, and sheer attract of the kind inside a selected quantity of traces. Discipline is an unacknowledged companion of artistry; right here artwork can not lose sight of its goal: to take wickets.

Shorter than the others, Prasanna flighted the ball extra and made it do issues in the air that appeared to point he had it on a string and will make it dance.

It is alleged of the greatest batsmen that they personal the 22 yards they play on. Prasanna owned the air above the 22 yards, inviting batsmen to step out solely to grasp the ball hasn’t reached, or to play again to an innocuous-looking supply solely to have it crash by way of.

Unpredictable

Chandrasekhar was a regulation unto himself, though that sounds far too aggressive for this most light of males (“I see god in Chandra,” Bedi as soon as mentioned). When he was on tune (actually, as he beloved to hum his good friend the playback singer Mukesh’s greatest), he was nicely nigh unplayable. Viv Richards has mentioned that the solely bowler who gave him nightmares was Chandra.

One of the nice cricketing events of the time was Chandra bowling to a full home at the Eden Gardens and the crowd going ‘bowled’ in keeping with his run-up. He claimed 35 wickets in opposition to England in 72-73, which stays an Indian file for the most wickets in a sequence.

Chandrasekhar usually mentioned he simply wanted a slip and brief legs — the others may area wherever they needed.

“When I am bowling well, the catches go there; if I am bowling badly, 22 fielders wouldn’t be enough.” Self-deprecatory humour was a speciality; but that mentioned one thing about the man. He was self-contained to a level uncommon in worldwide sportsmen, seldom needing others for his personal validation.

Astute and versatile

Had Venkatraghavan, tall and spare, been born a era earlier or later, he might need been a long-term captain of India, and one of the greatest.

He is a scholar of the recreation, one thing he emphasised when he returned as an umpire for 73 Tests after bowling off spin in 57. His reserve was mistaken for aloofness. But in a closed group he was unguarded, humorous and had sharp views on most issues. He was in the classical mould and bowled a imply leg-cutter.

For such a passionate cricket man, Venkatraghavan had time for different pursuits too. Classical music, historical past — he was the one participant to go to Mohenjo-daro on India’s tour of Pakistan — and in the early days, films.

He was too the fittest of the 4, a superb catcher at gully, and had a firstclass century to his identify.

Four males, so totally different, but so related; technically sound, and blessed with creativeness. Generous too. Coming collectively at roughly the identical time to raise Indian cricket to a level we now take as a right.

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