Indian cricket has seen a few stars and some more. But not one of them invokes the same beautiful feeling that Gundappa Ranganath Vishwanath does. Mention the name of the Boy from Bhadravathi and everybody—critics, contemporaries, friends, foes, rivals, relatives—break into an adjectival overdrive.
Five feet and two inches of timing. Team spirit. Style. Selflessness. Grit. Civility. And above all the gentlemanliness that lesser mortals can only aspire. What better way to mark the day Vishy turns 60 than to recount the genius in the words of his colleagues, compatriots and co-workers on the cricket field.
Sunil Gavaskar in DNA:
“Vishy played it tough without any overt show about it and played it fair. Look at the number of times he bailed out India out of a hopeless situation and took them to victory. He did it without thumping his chest or jumping up and down on getting to the century mark but with just a quick look up at the skies and then raising his bat shyly to applause that the crowd most spontaneously give him. In fact, no Indian player has warmed the cockles of the crowd’s heart as Vishy did. Those at the ground or those at the watching it on TV or hearing about it on radio would feel a sense of joy on Vishy’s achievements before or since has done.”
Bishen Singh Bedi in DNA:
“Vishy was a great team man and had an excellent sense of humour. I have not heard anyone say something bad about him. He was an artist and a gem of a batsman. He was like classical music of the highest order. I would say he was the Bhimsen Joshi or Ustad Allah Rakha of cricket. I remember the 97 knock against West Indies in Madras. What a knock it was. He is one batsman who cannot be compared to anyone else.”
Erapalli Anantarao Srinivas Prasanna in The Hindu:
“He has been one of the most outstanding batsman I have ever seen. It is also significant that in his birthday week, he was named for the C.K. Nayudu award.”
Anil Kumble in The Times of India:
“India has produced a number of profound batting stars, but I have often felt that Vishy never got his due, in spite of scoring over 6000 runs in Test match cricket. He did play during an era of former greats such as Sunil Gavaskar, and comparisons are never fair, but Vishy had carved his own niche among great batsman in India and around the world. Another prominent feature was his exemplary conduct and good nature, which has left a mark on anyone who has interacted with him, on or off the field. He constantly encouraged me during the period I was dropped from the Indian team, and guided me into maintaining self belief and determination.”
Rahul Dravid on rediff.com:
“He was a genius. All those great players who have played with and against him continue to rate him very high. I myself have seen videos and films of some of his outstanding innings. I must say he was an exceptional stroke-player. I think he was an artist with an unmistakable style of his own. He had terrific balance and you couldn’t find fault with his technique or shots.”
Anshuman Gaekwad in DNA:
“Vishy was a magical batsman to watch. We have had many partnerships. It was great to watch him from the other end. He could bat in any conditions. His most memorable knock was when Andy Roberts had come to India for the first time. India were 30 for 3 and Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi got injured. Vishy and I were then involved in a 129-run partnership and in the end we won. It was a tremendous knock from him on a lively Eden Gardens wicket.”
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