The era of India's slow bowlers September 12, 2011

When spin was king

For much of the 1960s and '70s, India's bowling attack consisted almost entirely of spinners who were varied and highly skilled. Just how good were they?
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India have always featured prominently in any discussion about spin bowling, but never was this emphasis on spin greater than in the 1960s and 1970s, when four of their most celebrated slow-bowling exponents played together. There were high-quality spinners from India before - Subhash Gupte scalped 149 wickets at 29.55, and was rated better than Shane Warne by no less a player than Garry Sobers; Vinoo Mankad snared 162 at just over 32 and also contributed mightily with the bat; while Bapu Nadkarni was the king of thrift, taking 88 wickets and conceding 1.67 runs per over. However, when Bishan Bedi, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, Erapalli Prasanna and S Venkataraghavan broke into the team in the 1960s, they established such a hold over the Indian bowling attack that for the next decade and more they became the core of the bowling unit, in all countries and conditions, to such an extent that India's seam and swing bowlers became almost redundant.

It was a diet by spin for opposition batsmen, and yet there was plenty of variety in the menu to choose from. Bedi was the classical left-arm spinner with a smooth action and fantastic deception; Chandrasekhar was as unorthodox as Bedi was orthodox, bowling sharp topspinners, googlies and legspinners at almost medium pace; Prasanna and Venkataraghavan were both offspinners, but while Prasanna was guileful and crafty, Venkat was accurate and relentless. Together they defined the Indian bowling attack, on turning tracks at home and in seaming conditions abroad.

The overall stats for three of those four spinners are pretty similar: Bedi led in terms of matches played, wickets taken and bowling averages, but Chandrasekhar and Prasanna weren't far behind. Venkat's stats suffered in comparison to the other three - he averaged less than three wickets per Test - but his career economy rate of 2.27 shows he was tough to score off.

Chandrasekhar's average was slightly higher than Bedi's, but his strike rate was easily the best among them all. At his best he was probably the most unplayable of them, and he was the only one among the four who averaged more than four wickets per Test. India didn't win too many overseas Tests during that time, but when they did, Chandrasekhar had a significant role to play in each: in five overseas wins he took six in an innings five times, and averaged 17.14.

Career stats of India's four spinners
Bowler Tests Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM Wkts/ Test
Bishan Bedi 67 266 28.71 80.3 14/ 1 3.97
BS Chandrasekhar 58 242 29.74 65.9 16/ 2 4.17
Erapalli Prasanna 49 189 30.38 75.9 10/ 2 3.86
S Venkataraghavan 57 156 36.11 95.3 3/ 1 2.74

Apart from Venkat, the other spinners did pretty well overseas too. Chandrasekhar, Bedi and Prasanna all averaged less than 34 in away Tests, which is significantly better than India's top spinner today: Harbhajan Singh's away average is 38.83. The only bowler among the quartet who didn't have much success abroad was Venkat, averaging more than 44 and taking only one five-for in 25 Tests.

The four spinners, home and away
Bowler Home - Tests Wickets Average Away - Tests Wickets Average
Bishan Bedi 30 137 23.99 37 129 33.72
BS Chandrasekhar 32 142 27.69 26 100 32.66
Erapalli Prasanna 22 95 26.94 27 94 33.85
S Venkataraghavan 32 94 30.64 25 62 44.40

Between December 31, 1966 and the end of 1978, India played 68 Tests, of which at least three of these four spinners played in 55. (In one Test, against England at Edgbaston, all four played but India lost by 132 runs.) In the 55 Tests, India's record read thus: won 14, lost 25, drew 16. It doesn't look all that imposing, but it's a whole lot better than India's Test record before they came along: in the 12 years before these four started playing together, between the beginning of 1955 and the end of 1966, India had won only seven out of 56 and had lost 19. The win-loss ratio thus changed from 0.37 to 0.56, an improvement of 51%.

Among those 14 wins were some pretty significant ones. In 1971, they won a Test in the West Indies for the first time, and followed that with their first win in England. On both occasions they won the series. The win in Port-of-Spain in 1976 is remembered mostly for the run-chase of 403, but the spinners did their job too, with Chandrasekhar taking eight wickets in the match and Bedi five. In Auckland in 1976, Chandrasekhar and Prasanna combined to take 19 wickets in the match as India won by eight wickets. And then there were the two wins in Melbourne and Sydney in 1977-78 - albeit against a depleted Australian team - which brought India back in the series after they lost the first two Tests. Overall, of the 14 Tests that India won, six were overseas.

India, before and during the spin quartet
Period Tests W/L/D W/L ratio Bowling ave
Jan 1955 to 30 Dec 1966 56 7/19/30 0.37 36.41
At least 3 of spin quartet 55 14/25/16 0.56 32.86

During this period when the spinners were in full flow, the role of pace in the Indian bowling attack was reduced to a bare minimum. In the 68 Tests between 1967 and 1978, spin contributed 766 wickets, an average of more than 11 per match. No team came close to that average, with Pakistan's 6.46 being the next best. Spin also contributed almost 78% of the wickets that Indian bowlers took during this period.

Team-wise stats for spinners in Tests between Dec 31, 1966 and Dec 31, 1978
Team Tests Spin wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM Spin wkts per Test Total wickets
India 68 766 30.58 77.8 42/ 4 11.26 987
England 112 575 29.10 81.0 26/ 6 5.13 1755
Australia 91 417 34.71 88.0 12/ 1 4.58 1509
West Indies 76 364 39.02 105.6 14/ 0 4.79 1148
Pakistan 46 297 32.09 79.7 11/ 2 6.46 637
New Zealand 54 204 40.53 101.3 4/ 0 3.78 725

And in the 55 matches when at least three of them played together, their numbers were pretty identical to those listed above - an average of about 11 wickets per match and 30 runs per wicket.

India's bowling when at least three from the spin quartet played
Tests Spin wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM Spin wkts per Test Total wickets Percentage
55 635 30.60 76.8 35/ 4 11.54 786 80.79

The four Indian spinners were among the best during this period, but there were a few others who were in that bracket. England's Derek Underwood led the way in terms of both wickets and averages, taking 264 at an excellent rate of 24.34 runs per wicket. Bedi was next in terms of wickets, but Ashley Mallett, Australia's offspinner, had excellent numbers too, averaging less than 28 for his 125 wickets. West Indies' Lance Gibbs was the other offspinner in this list, taking 172 wickets in 47 games.

Spinners in Tests between 31 Dec 1966 and 31 Dec 1978
Bowler Tests Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM
Derek Underwood 72 264 24.34 70.3 16/ 6
Bishan Bedi 64 259 28.52 80.0 14/ 1
BS Chandrasekhar 46 199 29.39 63.4 15/ 1
Erapalli Prasanna 47 185 30.16 75.3 10/ 2
Lance Gibbs 47 172 33.22 99.6 8/ 0
Ashley Mallett 35 125 27.95 73.0 6/ 1
S Venkataraghavan 35 99 35.39 93.4 2/ 0
Intikhab Alam 30 98 32.63 75.6 5/ 2

Playing four spinners in the same XI wasn't a luxury India could afford, though, so three in the side was the staple. Here's a look at how the spinners and the team fared when various combinations of three spinners played.

Bedi, Chandrasekhar and Prasanna
In the 24 Tests that Chandrasekhar, Bedi and Prasanna played together, India won seven and lost 12. Four of these wins were in two five-Test series when India fought back from 0-2 deficits to draw level, only to then lose the final match. The trio helped India beat West Indies in Kolkata and Chennai in the 1974-75 series, before they lost the last match in Mumbai, while that sequence of results was repeated in Australia in 1977-78 - wins in Melbourne and Sydney to draw level, followed by defeat in Adelaide to lose the series.

Among the three bowlers, Chandrasekhar and Bedi had identical numbers, taking just over 100 wickets at excellent averages. Chandrasekhar's best was in that Melbourne game, when he took figures of 6 for 52 in each innings to finish with match figures of 12 for 104 - his best in his 58-Test career. Bedi took two six-fors as well, but in two matches, and with hugely contrasting results - 6 for 71 against England in Bangalore in 1977 (a match in which Chandrasekhar took six as well), and 6 for 226 in the Lord's drubbing in 1974.

Among the three, the bowler with the least impressive stats in these 24 Tests was Prasanna, with only 61 wickets at an average of 40. His only five-for was against West Indies in that Chennai Test in 1974-75. And six times he finished wicketless in an innings despite bowling 20 or more overs.

Overall, in the 24 Tests that all these spinners played, they accounted for 266 out of 346 wickets taken by the Indian bowlers - a percentage of 76.88.

Tests that Bedi, Chandrasekhar and Prasanna played together
Bowler Tests Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM
BS Chandrasekhar 24 103 27.81 60.1 8/ 1
Bishan Singh Bedi 24 102 28.34 71.7 5/ 0
Erapalli Prasanna 24 61 40.01 101.8 1/ 0
Together 24 266 30.82 74.19 14/ 1

Bedi, Chandrasekhar and Venkataraghavan
Bedi, Chandrasekhar and Venkat played together 18 times, and of those Tests, India won four and lost seven. A couple of those wins were especially famous: in 1971 at The Oval, India won a Test, and a series, for the first time in England; and in Port-of-Spain in 1976, India chased down 403, at the time the highest fourth-innings total in a win.

Among these three, Chandrasekhar was again the bowler who was the most influential in the two wins: at The Oval his 6 for 38 destroyed England in their second innings, while in Trinidad his 6 for 120 kept West Indies down to a manageable 359 in their first innings. Overall, though, Bedi was the most successful in these 18 Tests, with 85 wickets at 24.96. Venkat played a strictly supporting role in most of these matches, taking only 39 wickets at more than 40 each. Overall, these three bowlers took 208 out of 262 wickets taken by all Indian bowlers in the 18 Tests.

Tests that Bedi, Chandrasekhar and Venkataraghavan played together
Bowler Tests Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM
Bishan Bedi 18 85 24.96 74.2 5/ 1
BS Chandrasekhar 18 84 29.25 65.3 6/ 0
S Venkataraghavan 18 39 43.82 118.8 0/ 0
Together 18 208 30.22 79.01 11/ 1

Bedi, Prasanna, Venkataraghavan
Prasanna didn't do too well when he played alongside Bedi and Chandrasekhar, but his performances lifted when Venkataraghavan was around. In 13 Tests that he played with Venkat and Bedi, Prasanna took 61 wickets at less than 28. Venkat himself didn't do too badly: though he took only 41 wickets, his average was the best among the three. Bedi was relatively less successful in terms of wickets, but his economy rate of 2.04 runs per over was the best among the three.

In these 13 Tests, India won only two and lost seven. One of the wins was against West Indies in Port-of-Spain in 1971 - Sunil Gavaskar's debut Test. The three bowlers together picked up 145 wickets out of 181 that the Indian bowlers took - a percentage of 80.11.

Tests that Bedi, Prasanna and Venkat played together
Bowler Tests Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM
S Venkataraghavan 13 41 27.19 68.8 2/ 0
Erapalli Prasanna 13 61 27.86 67.5 4/ 1
Bishan Bedi 13 43 34.11 100.0 2/ 0
Together 13 145 29.53 77.6 8/ 1

And finally, a look at the batsmen who excelled against India during this period. No one dominated them like Zaheer Abbas on India's tour to Pakistan in 1977-78. In five innings his scores read thus: 176, 96, 235*, 34*, 42. In fact, that series hastened the end for the three spinners who played in that series: Chandrasekhar averaged 48.12, Bedi 74.83 and Prasanna 125.50. Prasanna didn't play any Tests after that, Chandrasekhar played five and Bedi six. Venkataraghavan was around for much longer - till 1983, but in his last four series he wasn't much of a force, averaging more than 50 in each of them. In fact, in his last 14 Tests he managed only 23 wickets.

The era of the four Indian spinners ended with a bit of a whimper, but while it lasted it was glorious.

Batsmen with highest averages against India between Dec 31, 1966 and Dec 31, 1978 (Qual: 500 runs)
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Zaheer Abbas 3 583 194.33 2/ 1
Charlie Davis 4 529 132.25 2/ 3
Garry Sobers 7 836 83.60 3/ 4
Viv Richards 9 909 69.92 4/ 2
Doug Walters 7 540 60.00 1/ 5
Alvin Kallicharran 12 1071 59.50 3/ 6
(Click here for the full list of batsmen.)

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • samrao on September 14, 2011, 15:56 GMT

    It is difficult to compare players of different era .The better statistics of the current spinners only confirms that statistics can be deceiving. The number of matches were few in the past and I am sure if the quartret had played now the statistics would have been much better. Physical fitness and fielding is much superior now.Present day spin bowling appears unimaginative and mechanical. Thats why a bowler like Shane Warne or Murali ( and noew Swann) give so much pleasure to the spectators. Thats why past spinners still command admiration from those who have seen them play and still are considered superior to recent bowlers.

  • bumsonseats on September 14, 2011, 8:48 GMT

    i know they were great spinners. but at that time there was no netural umpires. like me anyone who remembers those times. there could be absolute shockers in some descisions. dpk

  • Sydney66 on September 14, 2011, 8:40 GMT

    @Graeme_Pollock: Just out of interest; who was more likely to get your wicket with an 'unplayable ball'? Prasanna or Chandra? And hence, what is more important to an Indian team that lacks the class of someone like Dennis Lillee, Malcolm Marshall, or Imran Khan (no disrespect to Kapil Dev): strike-power and unpredictability, or variety?

  • Percy_Fender on September 14, 2011, 4:34 GMT

    As someone pointed out,the close in specialist fielders to the then Indian spin combination were made up of Solkar,Abid Ali,Wadekar and Venkat himself. They were not just ordinary fielders. They anticipated and dived to catch the ball like the famous one taken by Solkar to I think a Chandrasekhar delivery of one of the English batsmen in the 1971 Test that we won in England.In later years I saw this on TV and was totally taken in by the sheer agility of this group of players. They were never unfit as we see nowadays.They used to run a lot I suppose as the great West Indian fast bowlers used to. I feel that it is the Gym culture which is causing fitness problems.This needs looking into. I am sure if the present lot of spin bowlers had that level of close in fielding, Indian spin would have been very good even today.I have seen Shahbaz Nadeem of Jharkhand and Barghav Bhatt. Both have good flight and variations to decieve batsmen.and look like Test bowlers.It is not so gloomyafter all.

  • PeterCook on September 13, 2011, 20:23 GMT

    AsherCA - kind of agree but Dravid? Dravid scored 3 hundreds and cannot be blamed at all for India's miserable performance. In fact, without Dravid, India would have lost by record margins in at least 2 of the tests against.

  • m_ilind on September 13, 2011, 16:12 GMT

    Chandra was a real match-winner. He had captured the hearts and imagination of the Indian fans with his mesmerizing spells! He could run thru a batting side within a session once he found his line and length. People used to chant "Chandra Chandra" just to get the captain to give him a bowl.

  • StatisticsRocks on September 13, 2011, 16:02 GMT

    The point of this article is WHAT? We Should have more spinners

  • on September 13, 2011, 15:46 GMT

    What the article misses is the genius of Salim Durani, whose magic spell was responsible for India's first ever series win in West Indies !

  • AsherCA on September 13, 2011, 15:16 GMT

    I fully agree with m_ilind - at least 30% if not half the success of those spinners was an entity called Eknath Solkar at shortleg. Give our today's spinners the same level of support in the close-in cordon & I dare say these bowlers will also become as successful. However, that would mean batsmen have to work. The Indian media does not like that. The media talks about the Indian bowling being bad becuase they don't get wickets - I am surprised anyone even turns up to bowl - remember their support structure - Fielders - drop sitters, misfield & worse - think nothing about over-throwing to show-off when there is no chance of a runout ! Team Management - makes them scaptegoats for everything including non-performance by Indian batsmen who rested at home for 2 months, just because the batsmen in question were media favorites (Dhoni never had the guts to call a spade a spade & say Sachin, Dravid, Lakshman & Raina not getting runs was the reason we lost the test series) !

  • spinkingKK on September 13, 2011, 13:21 GMT

    Its really amazing to know how India was playing with 4 spinners in a test team!! It's just wonderful. I don't care that India didn't win many matches. But, to be competitive with that soft bowling machine was a great achievement. I have also read that Indian soccer team played an olympics semi-final or quarter final against France, playing bare-footed and nearly won it. India always showed to the world that you don't have to use brute force to make an impact. Just the mind over the matter is what is needed. The way India plays sports is a fairy tale in itself.

  • samrao on September 14, 2011, 15:56 GMT

    It is difficult to compare players of different era .The better statistics of the current spinners only confirms that statistics can be deceiving. The number of matches were few in the past and I am sure if the quartret had played now the statistics would have been much better. Physical fitness and fielding is much superior now.Present day spin bowling appears unimaginative and mechanical. Thats why a bowler like Shane Warne or Murali ( and noew Swann) give so much pleasure to the spectators. Thats why past spinners still command admiration from those who have seen them play and still are considered superior to recent bowlers.

  • bumsonseats on September 14, 2011, 8:48 GMT

    i know they were great spinners. but at that time there was no netural umpires. like me anyone who remembers those times. there could be absolute shockers in some descisions. dpk

  • Sydney66 on September 14, 2011, 8:40 GMT

    @Graeme_Pollock: Just out of interest; who was more likely to get your wicket with an 'unplayable ball'? Prasanna or Chandra? And hence, what is more important to an Indian team that lacks the class of someone like Dennis Lillee, Malcolm Marshall, or Imran Khan (no disrespect to Kapil Dev): strike-power and unpredictability, or variety?

  • Percy_Fender on September 14, 2011, 4:34 GMT

    As someone pointed out,the close in specialist fielders to the then Indian spin combination were made up of Solkar,Abid Ali,Wadekar and Venkat himself. They were not just ordinary fielders. They anticipated and dived to catch the ball like the famous one taken by Solkar to I think a Chandrasekhar delivery of one of the English batsmen in the 1971 Test that we won in England.In later years I saw this on TV and was totally taken in by the sheer agility of this group of players. They were never unfit as we see nowadays.They used to run a lot I suppose as the great West Indian fast bowlers used to. I feel that it is the Gym culture which is causing fitness problems.This needs looking into. I am sure if the present lot of spin bowlers had that level of close in fielding, Indian spin would have been very good even today.I have seen Shahbaz Nadeem of Jharkhand and Barghav Bhatt. Both have good flight and variations to decieve batsmen.and look like Test bowlers.It is not so gloomyafter all.

  • PeterCook on September 13, 2011, 20:23 GMT

    AsherCA - kind of agree but Dravid? Dravid scored 3 hundreds and cannot be blamed at all for India's miserable performance. In fact, without Dravid, India would have lost by record margins in at least 2 of the tests against.

  • m_ilind on September 13, 2011, 16:12 GMT

    Chandra was a real match-winner. He had captured the hearts and imagination of the Indian fans with his mesmerizing spells! He could run thru a batting side within a session once he found his line and length. People used to chant "Chandra Chandra" just to get the captain to give him a bowl.

  • StatisticsRocks on September 13, 2011, 16:02 GMT

    The point of this article is WHAT? We Should have more spinners

  • on September 13, 2011, 15:46 GMT

    What the article misses is the genius of Salim Durani, whose magic spell was responsible for India's first ever series win in West Indies !

  • AsherCA on September 13, 2011, 15:16 GMT

    I fully agree with m_ilind - at least 30% if not half the success of those spinners was an entity called Eknath Solkar at shortleg. Give our today's spinners the same level of support in the close-in cordon & I dare say these bowlers will also become as successful. However, that would mean batsmen have to work. The Indian media does not like that. The media talks about the Indian bowling being bad becuase they don't get wickets - I am surprised anyone even turns up to bowl - remember their support structure - Fielders - drop sitters, misfield & worse - think nothing about over-throwing to show-off when there is no chance of a runout ! Team Management - makes them scaptegoats for everything including non-performance by Indian batsmen who rested at home for 2 months, just because the batsmen in question were media favorites (Dhoni never had the guts to call a spade a spade & say Sachin, Dravid, Lakshman & Raina not getting runs was the reason we lost the test series) !

  • spinkingKK on September 13, 2011, 13:21 GMT

    Its really amazing to know how India was playing with 4 spinners in a test team!! It's just wonderful. I don't care that India didn't win many matches. But, to be competitive with that soft bowling machine was a great achievement. I have also read that Indian soccer team played an olympics semi-final or quarter final against France, playing bare-footed and nearly won it. India always showed to the world that you don't have to use brute force to make an impact. Just the mind over the matter is what is needed. The way India plays sports is a fairy tale in itself.

  • contrast_swing on September 13, 2011, 12:15 GMT

    So as the numbers show the spin quartet or triplet was not so great as we tend to think of them... Indian spinners average and 30.58 few runs here and there will not mean much. I wish Rajesh could do some significance analysis...

    Perhaps because India had nothing else they thought their spinners were the best but they forgot to check that they all average 28+. Not a good number if you are bowler...

  • peterhrt on September 13, 2011, 12:00 GMT

    Bedi and Chandra were well equipped to succeed on good pitches. That was the key. The only other Indian spinner one can say that about to the same degree is Gupte in the 1950s. Prasanna had one good tour of Australia and ran through some weak New Zealand batting, but achieved little else abroad. Venkat was primarily a defensive bowler. So were Nadkarni, Shastri and Mankad. Kumble was king on his own turf but nothing like the same threat elsewhere. Harbhajan's impressive tally of victims is set against a relatively small impact on the stronger opponents away from home. It is Bedi and Chandra who have established India's reputation for high-class spin bowling on true surfaces. In fact Bedi can reasonably be considered the finest orthodox finger-spinner from any country on all wickets.

  • Herbet on September 13, 2011, 10:53 GMT

    Apart from the brief interlude provided by Kapil Dev (not that brief I suppose), India relied almost entirely on spinners right from the 60's up to he mid nineties when they often played all three of Kumble, Chauhan and Raju in the same team and had medium pace batsmen like Prabhakar or Ganguly open the bowling with Srinath! I am just reading Mike Brearley's book at the moment and there is a funny bit in it where in the 70's India picked the 3 spinners and had Gavaskar open the bowling, and asked him to bang in half tracker bouncers for a couple of overs to take the shine off the ball as quickly as possible so the spiners could come on straight away! I don't think such dependency or reliance on a certain type of bowling is healthy, as sometimes, like most of the time in England, quick bowlers are a much better choice.

  • Cric_info_pak on September 13, 2011, 5:35 GMT

    Well these spinner were good because tht time only pakistan n india play spin good, and pakistan did not play with india for long time ...... when they played their career got over because they were not tht good ....

  • on September 12, 2011, 19:44 GMT

    Though I agree that India improved when these spinners were playing but it was still miserable. The reason they were playing together was that India did not have a single decent fast bowler. Today India is doing much better as a unit because some quick bowlers (like Zaheer, Ishant and pthers) have done well in recent past. All these spinners were taken to pieces by Zaheer Abbas and Imran Khan during Pakistan visit - and that was the end of their career. They were good spinners but there is no way you can call them greats!

  • Graeme_Pollock on September 12, 2011, 19:32 GMT

    @Sydney66: Prasanna was chosen over Chandra because he was the best offspinner available. Kumble was chosen as the specialist leggie so Prasanna was selected to give the attack more variety

  • on September 12, 2011, 18:16 GMT

    Well it may look impressive at that time. It was the time when Indian pitches were tailor made for spinners and India never relied on fast bowler. From Kapil Dev's era started that art of fast bowling and now we have lack of good spinners. If you look the Bedi, Venkat's figures it does not look so impressive when you compare it with Kumble and Harbhajan's achievement. Also why still people say about Bishen and Prasanna. Except Chandrashekar other 3 were not instrumental at overseas.

  • US_Indian on September 12, 2011, 17:15 GMT

    One big reason for their success was the way they were handled by successive captains like pataudi and wadekar. Second and the most important reason for their success was availability of specialist fielders mainly close in fielders like slips, forward short leg, backward shortleg, silly point and gully and we had geniuses like Solkar and Abid Ali and you add Gavaskar, wadekar, venkat, vishwanath, pataudi and not to forget the best wicket keepers we ever had Farokh engineer and syed kirmani.. means we diddnt had much fleet footed outfielders but excellent close in fielders and now we can hardly see the spinners plotting the downfall of any batsmen and no specialist fielders as such with ageing dravid not the same slips fielder he once was and i dont see any specific fielder specilising in any given position, the result is showing. Earlier guys like doshi had to wait to get in and shivalkar/goel/abdul jabbar didnt even get a chance to get an india cap-such was the quality-look at Bhajji

  • NairUSA on September 12, 2011, 17:10 GMT

    The focus here is on the wily 4! Dilip Doshi was also a competitive spinner and had contributed in some of India's wins. Time for India to unearth at least 3 decent spinners as the medium pacers are not bringing home the bacon. At some point in time, it seems as if some of our youngsters decided to become medium pacers rather than spinners because it was not fashionable to be a spinner.

  • m_ilind on September 12, 2011, 16:02 GMT

    They were also helped by some excellent close-in catching by Solkar, Wadekar, Abid Ali, and Venkat himself.

  • Punter_28 on September 12, 2011, 15:51 GMT

    People talking bad about Bedi here and comparing him less favourably with Venkatapathy Raju must be real jokers...they have not seen him at his best. Having seen him live and that too coming to bowl after just 2 overs of new ball, in my opinion, he is the greatest left arm spinner ever. Otherwise, a person no less than sobers would not have called him, " Bachelor of Arts & Master of Spin" ...I have never seen a spinner with smoother action than him, 2-3 steps and the guile and flight was amazing. Mind you, he had taken 100 + wickets in the English county on more than one occasion. He was a leading spinner in the county where the conditions were less favourable.

  • inswing on September 12, 2011, 15:42 GMT

    @Sydney66 - I am guessing Prasanna was preferred over Chandra in the all-time XI because he was more consistent. Chandra was great when he was on, but used to go for a lot of runs and was ineffective when off. Can be devastating but not considered 'reliable'. Prasanna was more troubling all the time.

  • Percy_Fender on September 12, 2011, 12:20 GMT

    I am pretty optimistic of the trio of Mishra, Ashwin and Jadeja for the future. The important thing is that all three are pretty decent batsmen with Jadeja being of the Mankad vairiety of big scores and batting in any position.The thing in those days was that when someone made his debut they went on and became very good. Prasanna played his first Test in 1961 against England,then went to West Indies and played one Test there. Then he gave up cricket for his studies,came back in 67 and still took 100 wickets in 20 Test matches.Chandra made his own debut in 64 and lasted till 78, while Venkat came in 65 and went on till 78 as well.Bedi, came in 67 and went on till 78. It is this longevity that surprises me.They all said good bye after the mauling they got in Pakistan from Zaheer, Miandad and the rest. Of course those were the days when there was no neutral umpiring ! I think the trio that I have named above will be the faces of Indian spin in the next 10 years.

  • Graeme_Pollock on September 12, 2011, 12:20 GMT

    This article just underlines the need for quality pace bowling to win matches consistently. The most telling statistic is that despite the presence of such legends in the squad, India could not maintain a win-loss ratio of greater than 1 during this period. Outstanding spinners, by themselves, are not going to make you world #1. On the other hand, outstanding pace bowlers, even backed up by average spin bowlers, have a good shot at getting you the #1 ranking.

  • SSSVP on September 12, 2011, 11:49 GMT

    @Shrikant Desai: Still if you calculate number of balls per wicket....it clearly shows the picture. Bedi used to bowl 30 overs a day.....

  • on September 12, 2011, 11:26 GMT

    Excellent article about the "Spin" kings of Indian Cricket. One thing is certain that their basics were perfect with exceptional skill, which cannot be compared with present day spinners (not even the greats of Shane Warne or Muralidharan) Brings back those nostalgic moments!!!!

  • Nutcutlet on September 12, 2011, 11:08 GMT

    @Shrikant Desai. I'm always suspicious of statements like..'considered the greatest sla of all time/ the world has ever produced.' Bedi was a fine, even great bowler for his era, but there were great sla bowlers that belong to other eras. Amongst Englishmen, the is a strong case for Headley Verity. To my mind there are only two 'greatest evers': Bradman as a batsman and Sobers as an allrounder.These two are above discussion. The rest we can argue about!

  • on September 12, 2011, 9:35 GMT

    I was not surprised to read a horrible comment about Bishan Singh Bedi. The writer had no cricketing knowledge or is biased ,B.S. Bedi is still considered as THE GREATEST LEFT ARM LEG SPIN BOWLER the world has ever produced.It is just like selecting 7 Indian players in All Time Great World Team.See how this so called Greats perform in England now. Article is great but,I think one name is missing and that is of Ghulam Ahmad.

  • nearlyman on September 12, 2011, 9:32 GMT

    While it is good to compare the quartet with the best spinner of the day, it would be good that we call a spade a spade and actually rate them vis a vis our best bowler of all times, home and away:Anil Kumble.In comparison with genius, the pretenders fade away.

  • Sydney66 on September 12, 2011, 9:27 GMT

    I'm now wondering why Prasanna was chosen over Chandrasekhar in the ESPN All Time Indian XI? Most of Chandra's stats are better than Prasanna's by a significant margin. Does anyone know?

  • SSSVP on September 12, 2011, 7:51 GMT

    If you consider, number of balls they bowled (especially Bedi), then we will come to a conclusion, even Venkatpathi Raju was better than Bedi, forget about comparing with Kumble or Harbhajan.

  • mehulmatrix on September 12, 2011, 7:24 GMT

    Very nice article with a peep into the past. Like the analysis of different aspects of the game,beyond only win/loss and country/club support mentality.Inspite of limited exposure,facilities they were pretty good.Sad that India doesnt have good spinners since kumble. Harbhajan is always over-rated i think.Mishra and Ashwin have a much better promise, heart & attitude to learn.

  • on September 12, 2011, 6:40 GMT

    Today's spinning scene in India is a shade of what was back in 1970s... I fail to understand what is happening to this trade which has served India very well in the past. After Anil Kumble'r retirement India's spinning Unit has looked extremely weak. Lost are those when we had 4 world class spinners in our ranks. We barely have 2 good spinners now.

  • drdatla on September 12, 2011, 5:16 GMT

    what about durrani .hewon afew matches on his own in 60s.

  • ultimatewarrior on September 12, 2011, 3:34 GMT

    In 1960's there may be slow wickets but today India require 4 quick bowlers.....unfortunately India have never luxury of even 2 genuine quick bowler at same time....does India have won more matches than matches lost during those 18 matches......or even in that decade....India is generally produced great players of all moulds but not fast bowlers...and if u see long cricket history no team has good show without fast bowlers....altogether i agree this was the only team(in 60's) that was having respect even without a single fast bowler...

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  • ultimatewarrior on September 12, 2011, 3:34 GMT

    In 1960's there may be slow wickets but today India require 4 quick bowlers.....unfortunately India have never luxury of even 2 genuine quick bowler at same time....does India have won more matches than matches lost during those 18 matches......or even in that decade....India is generally produced great players of all moulds but not fast bowlers...and if u see long cricket history no team has good show without fast bowlers....altogether i agree this was the only team(in 60's) that was having respect even without a single fast bowler...

  • drdatla on September 12, 2011, 5:16 GMT

    what about durrani .hewon afew matches on his own in 60s.

  • on September 12, 2011, 6:40 GMT

    Today's spinning scene in India is a shade of what was back in 1970s... I fail to understand what is happening to this trade which has served India very well in the past. After Anil Kumble'r retirement India's spinning Unit has looked extremely weak. Lost are those when we had 4 world class spinners in our ranks. We barely have 2 good spinners now.

  • mehulmatrix on September 12, 2011, 7:24 GMT

    Very nice article with a peep into the past. Like the analysis of different aspects of the game,beyond only win/loss and country/club support mentality.Inspite of limited exposure,facilities they were pretty good.Sad that India doesnt have good spinners since kumble. Harbhajan is always over-rated i think.Mishra and Ashwin have a much better promise, heart & attitude to learn.

  • SSSVP on September 12, 2011, 7:51 GMT

    If you consider, number of balls they bowled (especially Bedi), then we will come to a conclusion, even Venkatpathi Raju was better than Bedi, forget about comparing with Kumble or Harbhajan.

  • Sydney66 on September 12, 2011, 9:27 GMT

    I'm now wondering why Prasanna was chosen over Chandrasekhar in the ESPN All Time Indian XI? Most of Chandra's stats are better than Prasanna's by a significant margin. Does anyone know?

  • nearlyman on September 12, 2011, 9:32 GMT

    While it is good to compare the quartet with the best spinner of the day, it would be good that we call a spade a spade and actually rate them vis a vis our best bowler of all times, home and away:Anil Kumble.In comparison with genius, the pretenders fade away.

  • on September 12, 2011, 9:35 GMT

    I was not surprised to read a horrible comment about Bishan Singh Bedi. The writer had no cricketing knowledge or is biased ,B.S. Bedi is still considered as THE GREATEST LEFT ARM LEG SPIN BOWLER the world has ever produced.It is just like selecting 7 Indian players in All Time Great World Team.See how this so called Greats perform in England now. Article is great but,I think one name is missing and that is of Ghulam Ahmad.

  • Nutcutlet on September 12, 2011, 11:08 GMT

    @Shrikant Desai. I'm always suspicious of statements like..'considered the greatest sla of all time/ the world has ever produced.' Bedi was a fine, even great bowler for his era, but there were great sla bowlers that belong to other eras. Amongst Englishmen, the is a strong case for Headley Verity. To my mind there are only two 'greatest evers': Bradman as a batsman and Sobers as an allrounder.These two are above discussion. The rest we can argue about!

  • on September 12, 2011, 11:26 GMT

    Excellent article about the "Spin" kings of Indian Cricket. One thing is certain that their basics were perfect with exceptional skill, which cannot be compared with present day spinners (not even the greats of Shane Warne or Muralidharan) Brings back those nostalgic moments!!!!