There was that unmistakable whiff of magic in the air. In a rare sighting together, India’s immortal spin trio of Bishan Singh Bedi, Erapalli Prasanna and Bhagwat Chandrasekar was given ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ by the Rotary Club of Madras East and Lanson Toyota at a pleasant function here on Saturday night.
The occasion was the silver jubilee year celebrations of Rotary’s Paul Harris Cricket Carnival. There were smiles all around as the awards were given away and the citations read.
A carnival and a celebration of spin bowling it indeed was when Bedi, Prasanna and Chandrasekhar destroyed line-ups in the 60s and 70s. “We had our time under the sun you know,” Bedi said nonchalantly.
And what time! Bedi’s left-arm spin and Prasanna’s off-spin had flight, dip, turn and guile. They would set the batsmen up, play on their egos. And their deliveries, so hard-spun, would make a hissing sound as they sliced through the air.
Chandrasekar, the unpredictable, would slice through line-ups with spin, bounce and variety. The leg-spinner’s quicker delivery would put several pacemen to shame, breach defences.
They were indeed the sunshine men.
“As we are here today, it is like we are bowling together again,” said Prasanna, the hint of mischief still visible in his eyes.
Bedi, a laughter lighting up his face and cricketing integrity oozing through his frame, said, “We were always together, always close. The bond has endured all through the years.”
And Chandra, modest despite deeds that would not be clouded by the mists of time, said, “Bedi and Prasanna were not just great bowlers but are wonderful human beings. We took joy in each other’s success. This is a memorable occasion for all of us.” His bowling was dangerous, but Chandra is as friendly as they come. “Winning and losing is not everything. It is how you play the game that counts,” said the feared match-winner. The words were typical of the man.
In a rare tribute, Bedi, arguably the greatest left-arm spinner ever, said, “You know I learnt a lot about spin bowling from Prasanna.”
Such was Prasanna’s craft that he would put a batsman’s technical and mental attributes under scrutiny. “All three of us were attacking bowlers. We always looked for wickets. We played our cricket like that,” he said. Prasanna quickly asked, “Where is Venkat (Srinivas Venkatraghavan was an integral member of the Indian spin quartet). I do not see him here. He was a fine bowler.”
The spin trio thanked former Kerala leg-spinner J.K. Mahendra for bringing them together for this event.
The night was filled with nostalgia. And why not?