Cricket legend Gundappa Viswanath has said he can never forget Andhra, which catapulted him into the cricket hall of fame, and the affection Andhra has been showering on him till this day.
Replying to a felicitation here on Tuesday, the little master from Karnataka said he could never forget the double century on debut in Ranji trophy he scored in Vijayawada in 1967 while playing for Mysore, nor the honour this day. He was amazed how A. Prasanna Kumar, who covered, described the Karnataka innings.
“It was like it was yesterday. It all started for me in Andhra. The first Ranji match gave a lot of confidence to face greater bowlers in the Test arena,” he stated. He described the Andhra new ball bowlers N. Venkata Rao and Rana Pratap Gupta as Griffith and Hall respectively on the day.
Though one many feel Viswanath’s 97 not out at Chepauk against Clive Lloyd’s battery of fast bowlers spearheaded by Andy Roberts as one of his bests, the master batsman himself does not think so. For, he thought after he settled down, Andy Roberts despite being very quick seemed to reserve his best for the batsmen at the other end.
Viswanath considers his century on debut against Australia in 1969 against Bill Lawry’s men as one of his best, where he timed and hit the ball sweetly and started playing his strokes with ‘Tiger’ Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, India’s captain, encouraging him to hit century, the master recalled.
The cricket maestro thinks the younger players of today were privileged to enjoy all facilities provided by the BCCI unlike during his days.
President of Visakhapatnam District Cricket Association and former Mayor D.V. Subba Rao described Viswanath as an all-time great whose stroke play was sheer poetry. Test, the longer version of the game, spoke for stamina, art, talent and exhibition. He said fans during the past were fortunate to see great batting displays of Viswanath, which were absent today.
Earlier, Prof. Prasanna Kumar described Viswanath’s Ranji trophy debut vividly and said Viswanath synthesised the three greats of Indian cricket – Ranjithsinghji, Vijay Merchant and Vijay Hazare.
Vice-president of VDCA P.R. Narayanaswami, who presided, thanked Viswanath for accepting to be felicitated. VDCA secretary K. Parthasarathy welcomed the gathering. Former Goa captain Angle recalled his association with Viswanath.
Several former top players of Andhra like MN Ravi Kumar and Kamaraju along with many present day players, VDCA office-bearers and others were present.