February 12, 2014

Playing hookey for Shorty

If you were a cricket fan born and raised in Bangalore in the '70s and '80s, chances are you did everything in your power to watch Gundappa Viswanath bat
38

Gundappa Viswanath delighted even in the briefest of cameos © Getty Images

The call always arrived after dinner. Located in the living room, the telephone offered little privacy. Pesky and nosy busybodies (siblings and parents) were always hovering and any spilling of the beans now that half the school day had been kissed goodbye would create mayhem. Poker face and minimalist was the way to go.

The voice never wasted time on pleasantries; straight to the point:

"Did you go?"

"Mmm…"

"How much?"

"27"

"Brilliant?"

"Two flicks. One cover drive. A leg glance. Two back-foot cuts behind point. Later than God. Where were you rotting away?"

"Had a chemistry lab report to finish, dude. That son-of-Hitler professor would have killed me if I didn't."

"Sure. Rot in hell, will you?"

The details could wait, to extract maximum envy the next day. The mind was still preoccupied by the manic dash that morning. Plus the nagging prospect of Sanskrit or biology homework (depending on the classes that had been skipped) that still lay waiting. But an unscathed escape from the morning's clandestine mission was at hand. Soon it would be bedtime.

****

It required meticulous planning as you snuck out of school. The time of day mattered. If it was afternoon, you chose the Lal Bagh-JC Road route. Past the Victorian Town Hall, skirting Cubbon Park to arrive at the roundabout at Queen Victoria's statue. If it was morning, it was Ashoka Pillar, Double Road - past Syed Kirmani's house - to Richmond Circle and up St Mark's Road to what is now Anil Kumble Circle. Turning left to reach the statue of Gandhi.

The Gandhi and Queen Victoria statues still stare eye to eye in front of the KSCA (also known as Chinnaswamy) Stadium, Bangalore.

Slide the rickety bicycle to a stop at the makeshift parking lot housing a hundred-odd bicycles, scooters and motorcycles in the shadows of the cavernous stands - if the match was on inside. Or pull up at the boundary ropes if it was at the KSCA matting wickets outside.

Look around. Unnecessary, for the scattered crowd was the same. The same lot of elderly gentlemen, middle-aged businessmen with leather cases, anxious looking twentysomethings, and of course the throng of students with satchels and backpacks slung over their shoulders. Regulars.

A State Bank of India v Syndicate Bank match, perhaps.

To that entire generation of cricket newbies from Bangalore, he would always be the shy smile and exquisite late cut at the end of the bike ride. Best savoured alone, leaning over handlebars at the boundary ropes on a sunny afternoon

Formalities and etiquette are nothing in such situations. Fortunately, utterly redundant. The person next to you will do:

"Kulla"? ["Shorty?"]

"Not yet. Just one down"

Whew.

Kulla: "Shorty" in Kannada, the language of Bangalore. A small word. For a short person. A word used literally and casually in the language. As a term of endearment, too. An affectionate grandfather ruffling his grandson's hair, saying, "Yeno kulla?" ["What's up, little one?"]

Such an appropriate word for him.

****

No one called him Gundappa back then. Just Viswa. And in Bangalore, he was always kulla. If you were born there, you were automatically enrolled as a member in the Brotherhood of the Fellowship of Kulla. A membership you took for granted. Never missed meetings - over lunch boxes at school, or in office cafeterias. Over breakfast, lunch and dinner at home. Lounging around neighbourhood coffee houses and pubs. At parties, weddings and funerals. Always conducted dreamily and cheerfully. Like everything about him, nothing was screamed out. But it was everywhere. You just breathed it in.

And when it was a match at the KSCA…

No paltry physics lecture was going to be an impediment. Of course, you went. And they came from all corners of the city, young and old. Tracking the progress of the match in local newspapers, meticulously calculating odds on the timing of his arrival at the crease. Oh, six-down and Sudhakar Rao still batting for Syndicate Bank on 70? Skip the morning then; late afternoon looks promising. Lie to the boss. Lie to the wife. Hop on the bicycle and scoot the hell out of school and arrive at the stadium sweating. Desperately seeking out the scoreboard, heart in mouth.

For he never guaranteed a big window. Especially in matches with little on the line. Many were the days when you got there, out of breath, and glared at the scoreboard as it sheepishly conveyed the news: three-down, last batsman (No. 4) out for 32! Glance at the grey-haired gentleman smiling and still shaking his head. As you made eye contact: "Monkey mischief! He must have been bored. Tried to hit four boundaries in an over and got out caught and bowled. But the three fours…"

You could hop back on the bike and go off. Or try to get something for the effort: some piece of kulla. So you did. Sidled over to the stern-looking retiree and started up a conversation. Mentioned - well, let us see, Pataudi? And then leaned back and let it wash over.

The stories, oh the stories. Perhaps the one about Tiger concocting a fake kidnapping on a train in Viswa's first year for India. The gullible rookie falling for it, reduced to a hysterical wreck. It never got old. And the look of affection on the storyteller's face never faded. You rode back smiling. There was always next week - a Moin-ud-Dowlah Cup match, perhaps.

And the Ranji Trophy matches. Headaches galore: to go on Saturday or Sunday? Grab lunch packed by mom and gang up on the bus. Those matches were something else, you know: Sunny, Kapil, Bedi, Mohinder, Venkat, Shastri, Patil, Gaekwad, Vengsarkar, Srikkanth… everyone. Basking in the sun in packed stadiums. Getting lucky sometimes. A rapid-fire 30, studded with improbably delicious shots. Perhaps a 70 - all grace and panache. Or he and Brijesh Patel trying to one-up each other in audacity against a cowering Hyderabad attack. Bliss.

Also hit and miss. Like the day the Karnataka openers dug in like armadillos, batting out two sessions. As the light turned golden and shadows lengthened, a bunch of us embarked on a salvage operation - a pitch invasion. Slipping through a gap in the fence near the BEML stand, hoofing it to the middle to congratulate Roger Binny on his fifty. Or you eschewed such theatrics and took the easy way. Looked around and picked the closest avuncular gent. Mentioned the 97.

Now, Chepauk at full capacity (like on that day) was at best close to 30,000. To date, two generations of south Indians who have lived within striking distance of Chennai have been lying through their teeth (and are still at it), claiming to have been at the stadium for that masterful knock against West Indies. As would this uncle in the row behind. That was always good for a half-hour.

The years passed. Not much changed other than the bicycles, traded in for Bajajs and Hero Hondas. The rituals and habits remained intact. We now bided time sitting at outdoor restaurant patios near the stadium, sipping endless coffees. Trying to time it and get there as the second wicket fell. Zipping home soon after, still grinning at the 20-minute recital he had put on.

Our failure rate too didn't change much. Like one Saturday, under blue skies and blazing sunshine, 25,000 of us sitting down with Tamil Nadu six down. Picture us five hours later: as L Sivaramakrishnan raised his bat on bringing up his century. Foiled by L Siva-friggin-Ramakrishnan, for god's sake!

Yes, there was Lord's, Melbourne, Port-of-Spain, Calcutta, Chennai and more. And moments like Bob Taylor in Mumbai. But to that entire generation of cricket newbies from Bangalore (none of whom were in Chennai for the 97, mind you), he would always be the shy smile and exquisite late cut at the end of the bike ride. Best savoured alone, leaning over handlebars at the boundary ropes on a sunny afternoon. Inhaling sharply as he leaned into a poetic front-foot cover drive to a ball on leg stump. Looking around and seeing others from the fellowship nodding heads and smiling. Lost in their own thoughts.

But always smiling.

Sriram Dayanand is a writer based in Canada

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • TheBangalorean on February 13, 2014, 14:44 GMT

    Great article! Consider me an enthusiastic lifetime member of the Brotherhood of the Fellowship of Kulla! I remember a match at the IISc gymkhana grounds where he toyed around with Sudhakar Rao. This was when he was still trying to make a comeback into the Indian team. After he had batted and was in the makeshift pavilion (just a series of steps which were covered) with no access restrictions I mustered the courage to approach him and wish him the best in his quest to get back into the Indian team. He just smiled and nodded before signing an autograph (which, to my utter and bitter chagrin, I lost). I wonder if he ever reads these articles about him on Cricinfo and if he knows how much he is loved and adored by fans worldwide. I just loved Ravi Shastri's quote "I love Gavaskar but worship Vishwanath." Amen to that!! Vishy, if you ever read this, may God bless you with good health and enable you to score a century in the inning of life.

  • harshthakor on February 12, 2014, 12:35 GMT

    When batting it looked like Vishy was making curves on board.We were reminded of a painter Rembrandt.Vishwanath simply took the art of batting to another dimension executing strokes which would be almost inconceivable for any contemporary batsmen of his time to produce..Arguably no batsmen ever posessed as good wristwork and his game was literally touch art.Above all he was a master in a crisis and on bad wickets like when scoring 97 n.o in 1974-75 against West Indies at Chepauk and 83 and 79 at Wellington in 1975-76.He also played an instrumental role in India's historic 4th innings winning run -chase at Port of Spain in 1975-76 and in test wins down under in 1977-78.Arguably he played great fast bowling better than any Indian batsmen ever,relishing the likes of Andy Roberts or Jeff Thomson.

    With Denis Compton,Zaheer Abbas and David Gower Vishwanath ranks amongst the best batting stylists of all time.In many ways he was the Indian equivalent of the maestro Rohan Kanhai.

  • harshthakor on February 12, 2014, 12:17 GMT

    Vishwanath was a technician and poet rolled into one.Few batsmen in the game ever surpassed Vishy's creative genius or artistry who would rank amongst the 10 most talented batsmen of all time.Vishy's strokes posessed the grace of a violinist and the skill of a magician.Above all he was on top when the chips were down and the bowling was at it's best.At Chepauk against West Indies on the fastest of tracks in both 1974-75 and 1978-79 he gave 2 of the finest batting exhibitions ever witnessed in test cricket.It is ironic that India never lost a test when Vishy scored a hundred and in matches won he averaged 6 more than his contemporary,the great Sunil Gavaskar.Vishy at his best joined the league of the Viv Richards .He could have averaged around 55 had he done justice to his ability.He had a unique hook,pull and flick shot combined into one and could manouvre the best of deliveries to the fence.His square cutting was sheer genius bissecting the most impregnable of fields.

  • on February 17, 2014, 0:47 GMT

    Vishy, the only one of his ilk, transcended all barriers! It was enough for us to hear Raju Barathan or Tony cozier describe his walk to the middle, taking guard and stance and wait for the bowler! If he gets out to the first ball itself, doesn't matter. We have lived our day! We did not have TV then. Still we could feel every second of the 'Little Master' on the field!

  • on February 14, 2014, 14:19 GMT

    Brilliant article, brings back some great memories of Vishy. I am from Madras and I loved watching Vishy. Many fans mentioned several great innings of Vishy, but the most endearing feat was when he recalled Taylor in the Jubilee Test (the only one which he captained). For fans now who don't know that event, and who cant understand batsmen walking, to recall an appeal which was given out by the ump is a grand gesture. Also India lost that game which could have been avoided if Taylor was out. But Vishy was a GENTLEMAN to the core and didn't mind the situation of the game, he stuck to his principles. I wish we all learn from that incident.

  • on February 14, 2014, 13:21 GMT

    I have yet another incident (Jan 1980)about another shorty of his time. Who else other than SUNIL M GAVASKAR.

    It was open Campal stadium and Gavaskar, fresh after thrashing victory against Imran Khan's Pakistan at Chennai was on the way to Mumbai,was playing a match in Arlem trophy. I occupied compound pillar near sight screen to view master's batting.Bowler was Maharashtra's much hyped Panduranga Salgaonkar. First ball was a fierce bouncer which was avoided just moving his head by an inch or two. The ball brushed his cap which he adjusted. Next ball was damn on off stump which was sent to mid off boundary even before the well built Pandu could look back.There was thunderous applaud. Next ball, very similar, was stopped right under the tip of the bat and the crowd was mesmerised.

    However there was an anti climax when the local umpire ruled him out LBW which was not there and an irritated master stared at umpire as if to tell "people are here to see my batting not your umpiring"

  • Witty_Cricketer on February 14, 2014, 10:00 GMT

    Looks like a generation thing to me, Vishy was probably a great batsmen (because I didn't see him bat) but to belittle some of the modern day greats (Sachin/Dravid etc) just to show how good Vishy was, is just not on. But I also think we would be doing the same thing to Dravid/Sachin in about 20 years!!!!!!!

  • on February 14, 2014, 6:45 GMT

    viswanath played sterlier innings against faster bowlers under more difficult conditions than the other No4 batsman Tendulkar

  • on February 13, 2014, 13:02 GMT

    yes, Vishy was inconsistent...but he was a great player when the conditions were tough for batting..younger fans of cricket may not rate him since they see so many players with higher averages...but Vishy was never about averages and stats...he was about batting well under pressure and helping India win matches that we would have lost otherwise....

  • on February 13, 2014, 11:16 GMT

    He will always be in the all time best Indian Test XI as No3. Rahul Dravid played much more, scored much more but played with less pressure and had much more support. The 97 is the greatest knock ever played by an Indian. He always scored runs when the team needed them, always scored against the best teams and best bowlers. In 1974-75 when Andy Roberts was at his fastest, he was the only guy to tackle him head on. The rest of the batsmen either cowered or blocked. In the end, the selectors gave him a raw deal dropping him after Pakistan in 1982-83, a series when barring Gavaskar and Mohinder, every batsman flopped. He still had 4 years of cricket left in him. Above all, a fantastic human being. Was revered in Calcutta as the best, much much more than Gavaskar.

  • TheBangalorean on February 13, 2014, 14:44 GMT

    Great article! Consider me an enthusiastic lifetime member of the Brotherhood of the Fellowship of Kulla! I remember a match at the IISc gymkhana grounds where he toyed around with Sudhakar Rao. This was when he was still trying to make a comeback into the Indian team. After he had batted and was in the makeshift pavilion (just a series of steps which were covered) with no access restrictions I mustered the courage to approach him and wish him the best in his quest to get back into the Indian team. He just smiled and nodded before signing an autograph (which, to my utter and bitter chagrin, I lost). I wonder if he ever reads these articles about him on Cricinfo and if he knows how much he is loved and adored by fans worldwide. I just loved Ravi Shastri's quote "I love Gavaskar but worship Vishwanath." Amen to that!! Vishy, if you ever read this, may God bless you with good health and enable you to score a century in the inning of life.

  • harshthakor on February 12, 2014, 12:35 GMT

    When batting it looked like Vishy was making curves on board.We were reminded of a painter Rembrandt.Vishwanath simply took the art of batting to another dimension executing strokes which would be almost inconceivable for any contemporary batsmen of his time to produce..Arguably no batsmen ever posessed as good wristwork and his game was literally touch art.Above all he was a master in a crisis and on bad wickets like when scoring 97 n.o in 1974-75 against West Indies at Chepauk and 83 and 79 at Wellington in 1975-76.He also played an instrumental role in India's historic 4th innings winning run -chase at Port of Spain in 1975-76 and in test wins down under in 1977-78.Arguably he played great fast bowling better than any Indian batsmen ever,relishing the likes of Andy Roberts or Jeff Thomson.

    With Denis Compton,Zaheer Abbas and David Gower Vishwanath ranks amongst the best batting stylists of all time.In many ways he was the Indian equivalent of the maestro Rohan Kanhai.

  • harshthakor on February 12, 2014, 12:17 GMT

    Vishwanath was a technician and poet rolled into one.Few batsmen in the game ever surpassed Vishy's creative genius or artistry who would rank amongst the 10 most talented batsmen of all time.Vishy's strokes posessed the grace of a violinist and the skill of a magician.Above all he was on top when the chips were down and the bowling was at it's best.At Chepauk against West Indies on the fastest of tracks in both 1974-75 and 1978-79 he gave 2 of the finest batting exhibitions ever witnessed in test cricket.It is ironic that India never lost a test when Vishy scored a hundred and in matches won he averaged 6 more than his contemporary,the great Sunil Gavaskar.Vishy at his best joined the league of the Viv Richards .He could have averaged around 55 had he done justice to his ability.He had a unique hook,pull and flick shot combined into one and could manouvre the best of deliveries to the fence.His square cutting was sheer genius bissecting the most impregnable of fields.

  • on February 17, 2014, 0:47 GMT

    Vishy, the only one of his ilk, transcended all barriers! It was enough for us to hear Raju Barathan or Tony cozier describe his walk to the middle, taking guard and stance and wait for the bowler! If he gets out to the first ball itself, doesn't matter. We have lived our day! We did not have TV then. Still we could feel every second of the 'Little Master' on the field!

  • on February 14, 2014, 14:19 GMT

    Brilliant article, brings back some great memories of Vishy. I am from Madras and I loved watching Vishy. Many fans mentioned several great innings of Vishy, but the most endearing feat was when he recalled Taylor in the Jubilee Test (the only one which he captained). For fans now who don't know that event, and who cant understand batsmen walking, to recall an appeal which was given out by the ump is a grand gesture. Also India lost that game which could have been avoided if Taylor was out. But Vishy was a GENTLEMAN to the core and didn't mind the situation of the game, he stuck to his principles. I wish we all learn from that incident.

  • on February 14, 2014, 13:21 GMT

    I have yet another incident (Jan 1980)about another shorty of his time. Who else other than SUNIL M GAVASKAR.

    It was open Campal stadium and Gavaskar, fresh after thrashing victory against Imran Khan's Pakistan at Chennai was on the way to Mumbai,was playing a match in Arlem trophy. I occupied compound pillar near sight screen to view master's batting.Bowler was Maharashtra's much hyped Panduranga Salgaonkar. First ball was a fierce bouncer which was avoided just moving his head by an inch or two. The ball brushed his cap which he adjusted. Next ball was damn on off stump which was sent to mid off boundary even before the well built Pandu could look back.There was thunderous applaud. Next ball, very similar, was stopped right under the tip of the bat and the crowd was mesmerised.

    However there was an anti climax when the local umpire ruled him out LBW which was not there and an irritated master stared at umpire as if to tell "people are here to see my batting not your umpiring"

  • Witty_Cricketer on February 14, 2014, 10:00 GMT

    Looks like a generation thing to me, Vishy was probably a great batsmen (because I didn't see him bat) but to belittle some of the modern day greats (Sachin/Dravid etc) just to show how good Vishy was, is just not on. But I also think we would be doing the same thing to Dravid/Sachin in about 20 years!!!!!!!

  • on February 14, 2014, 6:45 GMT

    viswanath played sterlier innings against faster bowlers under more difficult conditions than the other No4 batsman Tendulkar

  • on February 13, 2014, 13:02 GMT

    yes, Vishy was inconsistent...but he was a great player when the conditions were tough for batting..younger fans of cricket may not rate him since they see so many players with higher averages...but Vishy was never about averages and stats...he was about batting well under pressure and helping India win matches that we would have lost otherwise....

  • on February 13, 2014, 11:16 GMT

    He will always be in the all time best Indian Test XI as No3. Rahul Dravid played much more, scored much more but played with less pressure and had much more support. The 97 is the greatest knock ever played by an Indian. He always scored runs when the team needed them, always scored against the best teams and best bowlers. In 1974-75 when Andy Roberts was at his fastest, he was the only guy to tackle him head on. The rest of the batsmen either cowered or blocked. In the end, the selectors gave him a raw deal dropping him after Pakistan in 1982-83, a series when barring Gavaskar and Mohinder, every batsman flopped. He still had 4 years of cricket left in him. Above all, a fantastic human being. Was revered in Calcutta as the best, much much more than Gavaskar.

  • fannymae on February 13, 2014, 11:16 GMT

    Vishwanath stays close to my house in J P Nagar, Bangalore. I make it a point to drive past his house on my way to the office every day even though I don't have to take that route. Hoping against hope that I will get to see Vishy standing near the gate at lease once. Will he oblige me at lease once.

  • on February 13, 2014, 11:08 GMT

    vishy was a darling of Indians.there could not be better past time than watching him bat.

  • on February 13, 2014, 10:38 GMT

    I have a story as amazing. It was an Arlem Trophy match being played between 2 teams in 1980 or so, I don't remember team names but for players, definitely, at M P T Grounds Vasco Goa. It was 35Deg +temperature and on way back to room after my half office rushed to MPT grounds hearing loudest of cheers for a cricket match in Goa , those days. It was our own Vishy batting. The bowler was no less than Yograj Singh. I was standing at feets away from boundary line of square leg fence. There was a lightening delivery followed by some sound and Vishy was tapping his left pad to clean it up. But except for a staring Singh none in crowd knew where the ball was! Believe me it had reached boudary feets away from me and none knew it. When a spectator threw it in to ground only there was a roaring applaud that I can hear even today. The incident was seen to be believed.

  • on February 13, 2014, 8:44 GMT

    Remember watching at the ground ( Chepauk) his 222 vs Eng. 1981/82.Hit Paul Allott for a six over mid-off with a flick of the wrist that one uses to unlock one's car every morning!!

  • Longmemory on February 13, 2014, 6:37 GMT

    Beautiful piece of writing, thanks. In Madras, he was Vicchu to all of us, the one and only. In Ranji, you prayed that Vicchu got a hundred and TN won. Of course, when South Zone played the Duleep, you had no divided loyalties at all. I remember one Duleep match against North Zone and Vicchu decided to go after Bishen Bedi, who was up for the fight. In one over Vicchu cut him as late as ever for 4 and then hit an inside-out that soared over extra-cover for 6. Hitting sixers was not Vicchu's thing at all so this was extra special. He soon got out to someone else for a typically classy 30-odd. I still wish his battle with Bishen had continued - would have been great to see who came up trumps.

  • on February 13, 2014, 6:11 GMT

    What a mindblowing trip down memory lane. Thank you Sriram.

    Wondering whether our generation is going to talk like this about VVS someday?

  • myrealname on February 13, 2014, 4:36 GMT

    ¡Por Dios! This brought tears to my eyes for so many reasons - nostalgia, memory, pure aesthetics, overcoming the fear that greatness might be forgotten. "Two back-foot cuts behind point. Later than God." Dawkins' career might have taken a different path had he been witness. Thank you, Sriram.

  • on February 13, 2014, 3:37 GMT

    Superb article. I want to read the coverage written by NS Ramaswamy in Indian Express, on the brilliant 97 hit by Vishwanath against WI at Chepauk. Probably the poetry written by NSR matched with the masterly poetry essayed by Vishwanath. Can some reader dig out that piece and publish it.

  • on February 12, 2014, 19:39 GMT

    Fabulous piece. If he was "Viswa" in Karnataka, he was "Visu" to followers in TN! Even though TN vs Karanataka Ranji matches were hotly contested, TN fans cheered Vishy's knocks against them! I remember a fluent 88 in a washed out match when Karnataka managed all of 152 for 8 on the first day! (all 8 wkts going to TN medium pacer Mukund)

    After his epic 97 in Chennai, Vishy had the maximum following in Chepauk perhaps more than even Bangalore and matched only by Eden Gardens

  • on February 12, 2014, 17:58 GMT

    As a 5th grader I remember the 137 against Australia and then on I was a Vishy devotee. Th 222 against England is another memory. I watched him at wankhede in gr 7 and the 4 runs he scored against MCC stick in my mind more than Gavaskar's century. happy birthday to the great man

  • on February 12, 2014, 17:53 GMT

    When I first started reading this article, I was thinking will there be a mention of that brilliant 97 which my cousins always used to rave about watching in Chepauk. But your writing got me lost in it and it was a pleasant surprise to read about it. Brilliant article. As a chennaiite, we always want our teams to win against Karnataka. But Vishy is loved by us.He maybe from Bangalore but that innings at Chepauk, makes us privileged.

  • NVGRam on February 12, 2014, 17:03 GMT

    Thank you Sriram. Great timing of the article - coincides with Vishy's birthday. "Kulla" - he is - by a quirk of genetics. With his ethereal touch artistry (late cuts,square drives,etc.) & pristine purity of heart (confirmed walker,Taylor,...), he is a veritable giant - truly the tallest "Lambu" indeed. As mere mortals, we fans must thank the cricketing gods for bestowing on us the "gift" of Vishy. Here's wishing the great man a Very Happy Birthday.

  • on February 12, 2014, 15:22 GMT

    btw an admirable, romantic piece reserved for the Gods, Satya!

  • on February 12, 2014, 14:37 GMT

    "Happy Birthday Vishy " In 70s and early 80s' Gundappa Vishwanath' had been everything to me, he is the greatest Indian batsman. Once Bedi said "Vishy's batting is like listening to Ravishankar's Sitar & Bismila Khan's Shenoy". I have never seen anyone on par with his batting. Once Ravi Shastri said "I love Gavaskar but worship Viswanath". If you ask Krish Srikanth about Vishy even now, he would become emotional. I think only very few players like, Kalicharan, Gower, Hooper and Mark Waugh have some resemblance of that 'touch of class'. He had a unique hook,pull and flick shot combined into one and could manouvre the best of deliveries to the fence.His square cutting was sheer genius bissecting the most impregnable of fields. Vishy is the 'master of all strokes'and a 'True Little Master.'

  • cnksnk on February 12, 2014, 14:31 GMT

    Well I was there when he scored the 97. The session after lunch when Andy Roberts was I think bowling his fastest ( may be ever) with 6 fielders on the off and Vishy still scoring his silky boundaries. For all the centuries that Indian's have played before and after ( even any of Sachin's 100 centuries) are no patch on that 1 innings. Simply the best played by an Indian. If you do not believe it ask Sunny Gavaskar or any of the 35000 folks who were actually there. Proud to say I was there.,,,

  • on February 12, 2014, 13:34 GMT

    I was studying management in a reputed institution in Bangalore. And we didn't have a campus on our own. Our class opened out a cricket stadium near double road where first class matches were played and in late 70's Indian team was packed with brilliant karnataka players like Vishy, Binny, Prassana, Chandra, Brijesh. Kiri and the list goes and all these players never ignored playing the local matches. We used to talk to profs to reschedule classes whenever we see them play next door. This article brings back those nostalgic memories

  • Farce-Follower on February 12, 2014, 13:30 GMT

    Superb slice-of-life article. Felt like I was in the Bangalore of the 70s. Yes, Vishy was one of the most unassuming and brilliant cricketers ever. A virtuoso and a gentleman to boot. The template for other legends to follow.

  • on February 12, 2014, 12:02 GMT

    Great entertainer. No one can match his stylish batting. The caption for the photograph at the top is apt.

  • on February 12, 2014, 11:43 GMT

    Wishing G.R. Viswanath a HAPPY BIRTH DAYH. Nostalgic moments vividly expressed by the writer on Vishy as we all affectionately call him. G.R. Viswanath made headlines when he hit unbeataen 97 against a formidable West Indies at Chepauk and what a knock it prove to be. One of the best knocks in test cricket by Vishy. No doubt whenever he was among the runs, India won the test matches either in India or abroad. No one can forget his century at MCG in 1980 in the "infamous" walkout match by Sunny when he was given out LBW against Lillee. India still won that test and mind you Aussies boasted best team at that time and they were bundled out just for 83 runs thanks to Kapil's devils and we won the test. Such was Vishy's contribution in match winning knocks.

  • NarayanNallappa on February 12, 2014, 10:58 GMT

    For me in 70s and early 80s Vishy was every thing to me, he is the greatest indian cricketer. Once Bedi said Vishy batting is like Ravishankar Sittar or Bismila Khan Shenoy. I have never seen anyone batted like Vishy, Once Ravi Shastri said He loves Gavasker but worships Viswanath. If you Ask Krish Srikanth about Vishy he will start crying. I think only few players like, Kalicharan, Gower, Hooper, and Mark Waugh have some resemblance of that "touch of class "

  • on February 12, 2014, 9:24 GMT

    The other favorite past time of young kids in Bangalore was the Vishy Vs Gavaskar debate. GOD only how many fisticuffs I was involved in, all to determine if Gavaskar was ever better than Viswa. Tendulkar's and Dravid's may come and go, but Vishwa was and always will be Vishwa.

  • gopir on February 12, 2014, 9:02 GMT

    I remember a match between Karnataka and TN at the KSCA when we were waiting for him to come to the crease. He came in and stroked (the word "batted" doesn't do justice to him) his way to a 40+ (not sure) before he got out. Strangely enough, none of us talked about his dismissal. We only talked about the glorious batting all the way home.

    While Bangaloreans like me were natural well wishers, he was a favourite anywhere he went. In today's world of crores, commercials and cronyism, Vishwanath is a throwback to a fabulous era. It is unlikely that his 97 at Chepauk or the 400+ chase at Port of Spain can be repeated

  • ramli on February 12, 2014, 8:03 GMT

    Those were the days when cricket was mostly watched by people who had played the game ... and above all ... the legends were playing league cricket as well ... that is why the crowd was there for even a league match ... nowadays, there is an overdose of cricket on multiple TV channels .... and cricket is now watched by a majority who had not or would never play the game on their own ... SO, WINNING AT ANY COST IS THE KEY EXPECTATION NOWADAYS, NOT SO MUCH AS THE NUANCES A PLAYER BROUGHT TO THE GAME ...

  • on February 12, 2014, 7:59 GMT

    Lovely! Brought a tear to my eyes.

  • ARUP1962 on February 12, 2014, 7:52 GMT

    Brilliant article. With Vishy batting you were not worried as to who was with him at the other end. You only wanted him to stay. A Vishy 50 was worth thousand times more than all the hundreds scored by others. Keep such articles coming. You don't get such players nowadays.

  • ForTeamIndia on February 12, 2014, 7:20 GMT

    What an article! What an article! Let more of these come SIR. RESPECT to YOU.

  • vinudupa on February 12, 2014, 4:29 GMT

    what an article.....hats off to the writer for bringing back the old memories.....was in school......when India won toss.......then fake stomach ache and come back to listen commentary for the day ......in anticipation of second wicket going down and LEGEND arriving at the crease.......WOW those were the days........the ONE AND THE ONLY .......GUNDAPPA RANGANATH VISHWANATH......what a player

  • vaidyar on February 12, 2014, 4:20 GMT

    I don't know why, but this made me cry. What a lovely piece to start off the morning!

  • vaidyar on February 12, 2014, 4:20 GMT

    I don't know why, but this made me cry. What a lovely piece to start off the morning!

  • vinudupa on February 12, 2014, 4:29 GMT

    what an article.....hats off to the writer for bringing back the old memories.....was in school......when India won toss.......then fake stomach ache and come back to listen commentary for the day ......in anticipation of second wicket going down and LEGEND arriving at the crease.......WOW those were the days........the ONE AND THE ONLY .......GUNDAPPA RANGANATH VISHWANATH......what a player

  • ForTeamIndia on February 12, 2014, 7:20 GMT

    What an article! What an article! Let more of these come SIR. RESPECT to YOU.

  • ARUP1962 on February 12, 2014, 7:52 GMT

    Brilliant article. With Vishy batting you were not worried as to who was with him at the other end. You only wanted him to stay. A Vishy 50 was worth thousand times more than all the hundreds scored by others. Keep such articles coming. You don't get such players nowadays.

  • on February 12, 2014, 7:59 GMT

    Lovely! Brought a tear to my eyes.

  • ramli on February 12, 2014, 8:03 GMT

    Those were the days when cricket was mostly watched by people who had played the game ... and above all ... the legends were playing league cricket as well ... that is why the crowd was there for even a league match ... nowadays, there is an overdose of cricket on multiple TV channels .... and cricket is now watched by a majority who had not or would never play the game on their own ... SO, WINNING AT ANY COST IS THE KEY EXPECTATION NOWADAYS, NOT SO MUCH AS THE NUANCES A PLAYER BROUGHT TO THE GAME ...

  • gopir on February 12, 2014, 9:02 GMT

    I remember a match between Karnataka and TN at the KSCA when we were waiting for him to come to the crease. He came in and stroked (the word "batted" doesn't do justice to him) his way to a 40+ (not sure) before he got out. Strangely enough, none of us talked about his dismissal. We only talked about the glorious batting all the way home.

    While Bangaloreans like me were natural well wishers, he was a favourite anywhere he went. In today's world of crores, commercials and cronyism, Vishwanath is a throwback to a fabulous era. It is unlikely that his 97 at Chepauk or the 400+ chase at Port of Spain can be repeated

  • on February 12, 2014, 9:24 GMT

    The other favorite past time of young kids in Bangalore was the Vishy Vs Gavaskar debate. GOD only how many fisticuffs I was involved in, all to determine if Gavaskar was ever better than Viswa. Tendulkar's and Dravid's may come and go, but Vishwa was and always will be Vishwa.

  • NarayanNallappa on February 12, 2014, 10:58 GMT

    For me in 70s and early 80s Vishy was every thing to me, he is the greatest indian cricketer. Once Bedi said Vishy batting is like Ravishankar Sittar or Bismila Khan Shenoy. I have never seen anyone batted like Vishy, Once Ravi Shastri said He loves Gavasker but worships Viswanath. If you Ask Krish Srikanth about Vishy he will start crying. I think only few players like, Kalicharan, Gower, Hooper, and Mark Waugh have some resemblance of that "touch of class "

  • on February 12, 2014, 11:43 GMT

    Wishing G.R. Viswanath a HAPPY BIRTH DAYH. Nostalgic moments vividly expressed by the writer on Vishy as we all affectionately call him. G.R. Viswanath made headlines when he hit unbeataen 97 against a formidable West Indies at Chepauk and what a knock it prove to be. One of the best knocks in test cricket by Vishy. No doubt whenever he was among the runs, India won the test matches either in India or abroad. No one can forget his century at MCG in 1980 in the "infamous" walkout match by Sunny when he was given out LBW against Lillee. India still won that test and mind you Aussies boasted best team at that time and they were bundled out just for 83 runs thanks to Kapil's devils and we won the test. Such was Vishy's contribution in match winning knocks.