Sunday, June 17, 2007

Old Cricket memories- My Favourite Tamil Nadu XI of the last 3decades

1. V. Sivaramakrishnan-the most consistent opener for TN and a brilliant close in fielder, who paid special attention to fitness.

2. K. Srikkanth- beat VB through the sheer excitement and tension he gave the spectators. He was also a people’s cricketer and hence had several die hard fans through the 1980s, while VB always seemed to take the other extreme(serious, tough). While the favourite XI is pure performance based, the choice of Srikkanth also has the fans in mind
( while he may have lasted only half an hour on many occasions, the happiness he gave fans during that short period was immense) and hence he scores over VB.

3. WV Raman- A beautiful spin talent of the 1980s like LS, turned into a top order bat and made runs big time for TN for a decade and over. Cannot over look him for the sheer number of runs he scored and the way he contributed to the top order

4. S. Sharath-For the sheer durability and fighting it out time and time again, a 100 times for TN, he finds a place in the XI. For a long while, he seemed to be in the shadow of others…first Robin and WV in the early 1990s, then Sriram, S.Ramesh and Badani. But like Raman, he finds himself a place with the weight of runs scored over a long period of time. And he was always a team man.

5. Abdul Jabbar- The grittiest middle order bat TN has seen. He saved the day for his side many a time. And took some wonderful catches fielding close in. Never really came close enough for National duties but his contribution to TN cricket has been invaluable.( No talk of TN cricket of late 1970s/80s can be concluded without a discussion on V. Shiv and Jabbar losing out on bigger laurels. Hats off to these two men who fought out many a battle for TN. It still seems that TN cricketers are given a raw deal at the national level)

6. Robin Singh- An automatic choice in the XI. He brought freshness into the team and should have changed the face of TN cricket and taken it to greater heights but unfortunately didn’t. TN laid low through the 1990s winning very little on the national scene. However, he should rank as the most aggressive TN cricketer of the last 3 decades- close in and out fielding, running between the wickets, determination when he batted. For all his branding as a one day cricketer, his record in Ranji and Duleep Trophy prove that he was ideally suited for the longer version of the game. Very few took note of the fact that Robin’s best innings’ were always in the longer version of the game

7. Bharat Reddy- TN has lacked good wicket keepers in recent times and Bharat Reddy sees off easily, competition from D. Girish, Babulnath and M. Sanjay, the only other names in consideration

8. S. Vasudevan- This possibly was the most toughest of the decisions along with the 2nd opener slot. Venkatramana and LS donned national colours. Venkatramana had a beautiful action and could turn the ball square and was instrumental in many a win for TN and was a very useful lower order bat. LS was potentially the most talented TN spinner. But for all his potential, LS made very limited impact even on the local scene. Vasu had formed a potent left-right combination with Venkat in the late 70’s, early 80s. For a decade, he held the TN spin bowling together (including when Venkat was away on test duty). And hence finds the 2nd spinner’s spot. Also, he was the TN Ranji winning captain in the late 1980s.

9. S. Venkataraghavan- Captain

The first name that comes to mind when one thinks of TN cricket is Venkat. He was the first TN cricketer to break into the national scene in a big way.He was the one broke the shackles of bad treatment to TN cricketers,not through war of words but through sheer determination and performance on the ground. While VV Kumar had been treated badly in the 1960s and did not play much of Test Cricket, it was Venkat who fought out and came back stronger every time- He was the one day captain under whom Gavaskar scored 36 in 60 overs-he still refuses to be drawn into that controversy-, he was the one who was dropped after being captain in the previous test, he also belonged to the period when there were 3 other famous spinners( not counting shivalkar and goel). And yet, he came back into the national team through performances on the field.

Venkat has been the quiet man of TN cricket.He came up the hard way. He also has stories of cycling 15 kms every day in the 70s to keep up this fitness levels. He set high standards for himself. He was one of the best close in fielders TN has had, though Robin and V. Shiv would run him close on that.

His performances in the 1970s were miles ahead of other TN cricketers and it remained so till Srikkanth burst on to the scene in the early 80s. Given this scenario, it was only natural that most others in the TN cricket scene were in awe of him( the first big national cricketer from TN). Many in the TN cricket circles have quietly questioned his 'contribution' and support to TN cricket after his playing days. That discussion will be reserved for another day.

Here it is suffice to say that Venkat played his cricket hard and professionally and is my choice for the Captaincy.

10. T.A Sekhar- The quickest fast bowler TN has produced, tall and lanky, he was a big fast bowling hope for TN cricket. Alas, the Indian slip cordon (and may be politics) let him down. And he never made it big on the national fast bowling scene

11. B. Kalyanasundaram- For the sheer energy and effort he put into fast bowling at a time when TN was not known for ‘FAST’ bowling. He beats Bharat Kumar and B. Arun to the final bowling spot

Those that missed out

VB Chandrasekhar- He has possibly been the most influential cricketer in TN in the last 15 years or so. And was also arguably a better opener and captain than Srikkanth. I first tracked him in the early-mid 80s during his CIT days. His century in the Irani trophy match (against Gopal Sharma and co) that won the match for TN will remain etched in everyone’s memory for ever. However, for sheer excitement and tension value(not necessarily the number of runs), one would have to include Srikkanth, though he did not play that many matches for TN because of his international duties. While VB has been possibly the best TN captain and the most influential player in recent times, Srikkanth scores over him for ‘early excitement’ and the freshness he introduced to opening batting in early 80s. It must be clarified that VB was no less brutal in his attack of opposition quickies.

His arrogance may have let him down on many occasions. Once while playing for Chemplast in a YSCA Trophy match at the RKM ground in T. Nagar ( this was a very popular summer tourney and that evening there was crowd in excess of 1000 watching, VB made a remark to the crowd watching the match from the road on the Eastern side that stands etched in memory for the wrong reason ' Only Vettis come and watch cricket. You are jobless and have nothing else to do. That is why you are here watching this match'.

(VB had just returned from NZ after failing in the one dayers earlier that season. It was a pretty damning statement from an international player)

** While on the topic of openers, I must make a mention of VV Sankupani, a cheeka replica in local cricket. He never made it to the top grade.

CS Suresh Kumar- For a while in the 1980s( when Srikkanth was away) the left-right combo of V. Shiv and CS formed a most formidable opening pair. However, V. Shiv’s consistency over a decade and his outstanding catching abilities meant that CS had to miss out.

TE Srinivasan- Possibly the most technically correct batsmen of his time in TN, TE could have played several more international matches than he ended up playing.(Like VB later, he was chosen for a very difficult international tour (Australia-NZ) and never again played for India. He loses out to WV Raman in this squad for the sheer number of runs scored by the latter. WV, who began as a bowler, became an all rounder and ended as one of the most prolific scorers for TN at the top of the order in the 1980s-90s. For the number of runs he scored and the way he converted himself into a top order batsman, one could not afford to miss out on WV.

PC Prakash-Solid batsman in the late 1980s. Lent stability to the batting order. Loses out in a strong middle order of WV, Sharath, Jabbar and Robin.

R. Madhavan- My favourite TN players of the early 1980s were the two Madhavans- NP and R. NP played a lot less than he should have for TN but the bearded left hander was a heavy scorer in the 1980s for a couple of seasons and was possibly a little unlucky to lose out on international duty. And for a batsman, quit cricket quite early(late 20s) to pursue his career.

M. Senthilnathan- During his school time in Udumalpet, I had opined that he would play for India. Such was his power and stroke play. At the U19 level, he was seen as a big find. And he was a brilliant fielder. But he disappointed. Like UR Radhakrishnan in the mid 80s, was a good cricketer from the districts.

D. Vasu- Brilliantly committed cricketer loses out to the other Vasu on the spin front and to allrounder Robin on the all rounder spot- Possibly the unluckiest and undeserving loser (of a place) in this XI. He would be the first reserve, should someone drop out. Could have figured as the 2nd fast bowling option(as he started as a fast bowler) but Kalli as an out and out quickie and a No. XI beat him to that.

L. Sivaramakrishnan- Still remember him featuring on the cover of Sportstar ( early 1980s) with a ‘leg spinner’s grip on the red cherry( he was still a school boy then) after having shot to instant fame in 1982. Who can forget his ball to dismiss Javed Miandad in WCC 1985 Finals. But for TN, he flattered to deceive and loses out to Vasu. Leg Spinner would have been nice for the team and he was a good fielder and a solid bat but his overall bowling performance for TN in the 1980s meant he did not find a place. Have heard many interesting stories of why he did not fulfil his potential but that’s for another story.

D. Girish- Could have played a lot more than he ended up playing. Was a good wicketkeeper batsman. Guess injury ended his Ranji career early

B. Arun
K. Bharat Kumar
M. Santosh Kumar
M. Venkatramana

Biggest Disappointment:

No player(debut in the last 15 years or so) except Sharath figures in this list and that shows the downhill TN has been through in recent times.

* VV Kumar did not figure in the time period…else would have obviously figured in the team


T.T. said...

You use the excuse of time frame, but no TN XI is complete without VV. I think he was still playing in 1977. Venkat owes part of his success to VV who had batsmen tied up in knots at the other end. Kripal Singh and Dalvi are two others who served TN with distinction, but probably fall outside your time line.

PRabhu S said...

Thanks much. I am so sorry about that. The reason i have chosen that year is because that was the time i started to follow cricket closely.

Yes, VV and Venkat would have been the two first picks in the team. VV, i think, retired in 75-76 or 76-77. Because he had just fallen outside the timeframe, i made the special mention at the bottom that VV was not considered for this XI.

There have also been a couple of others who have brought up Kripal and Satwender Singh. But think the two Singhs as well as Dalvi stopped playing for TN before 77-78(which is the starting season for the purpose of this XI)

PRabhu S said...

Raja, Ramesh-

Thanks for your comments. Have added specifics on Venkat.

dinesh said...


Nice job. Nobody but an ardent TN cricket fan, could have come up with this. Since you named this "My Favorite XI", you'd get a lot of slack on the criticisms :). I am going to take the liberty of questioning some of your selections.

Good decription on srikanth and you're right about the fact that he is not a walk in into the team inspite of his popularity at the national level. Consistency was clearly a question. VB was more consistent. Given a choice, i would have opened with W.V.Raman and opened up another batting slot.

Sharath, Raman and Robin singh should be walk ins. But in my eleven, I would have had sridharan sriram as the other batsman. I think he has been extremely consistent over the years. And it's difficult to drop somebody like T.E. as well.

WK - You're right - TN has seen so little from the WK position. The one name that comes up that you have left out would be Reuben paul. I think he had enough "dhil" to play for India and almost made the team on one occasion.

Venkat as the first spinner should be an easy decision. The 2 nd spinner is not an easy decision IMO, given the abundance in talent. Like TT says and (all his team mates would vouch for this), there can be no all time TN team without VV Kumar. Vasudevan was a handy cricketer, no doubt, but he was in the mold of suni joshi and was more of a work horse type bowler than a destroyer. Venkataramana and Sunil subramanian were better matchwinners than vasudevan, I thought. Also, Venkat's choice as captain is a no brainer. He is the most natural leader of all the players that have been mentioned here.

L.Balaji had much better potential than the other two pacers mentioned here. Injuries have cut his career short, but the damage he did in his relatively short career, I don't think can be matched. I think he should find a place !

All this said, I think you've done a great job putting this team together. Unfortunately, not many in out generation have followed TN cricket actively and it is refreshing to see some one (else) who has taken an active interest. I'll try to write a post on TN cricket myself.

I am going to forward this to my father, and I will be interested to see what he feels about being the 2 nd seamer in the team, and nearly losing out to bharath arun and bharath kumar :).

dinesh said...

Here would be my eleven for the same time frame.

1. V.Sivaramakrishnan
2. W.V.Raman
3. T.E.Srinivasan
4. S.Sriram
5. S.Sharath
6. Robin Singh
7. Reuben Paul
8. S.Venkatraghavan
9. L.Balaji

12 th man: D.Vasu

PRabhu S said...


Thanks much for the comments. When did you leave for the US. You still seem to be following cricket closely. Most of the guys who left for the US in the 1990s dont follow TN cricket anymore with interest.

1. As mentioned at the bottom of that list, VV Kumar falls outside the timeframe and hence was not considered(this is the XI of the last 30 years). Hence, request you to change the No.11 spot in your list. If it was not for the timeframe, VV Kumar would have figured. Given that VV Kumar cannot figure, who would be your 2nd spinner?

2. The pick on Srikkanth was not for the number of runs he scored but the way he scored and the entertainment value he provided in those days with his brand of cricket(though several times he has disappointed fans).But getting Raman to the top and TE at No. 3 is a nice thought(though i would be very uncomfortable not having Srikkanth in a TN XI of the last 30 years). My reasoning is that Srikkanth made a big contribution to TN cricket through his refreshing brand of cricket.I chose him because he was a fan's cricketer....

3. I am not sure if L. Balaji has made that big a contribution to TN cricket yet. My view is that he has made bits and pieces contribution - when he has been fit, he has done well. But he has been unfit for a longer period.

4. Comment from another person(Ramesh) too was that he did not like Bharat Reddy's keeping. And you have taken the plunge to replace him with Reuben Paul. For TN,i thought Bharat Reddy made a reasonable contribution in the mid/late 70s and early 80s to be the undisputed keeper of choice. I thought Reuben did not contribute enough for TN in the 1990s to displace Reddy...

5. nice one on the 2nd seamer bit:) though i thought TAS contributed enough in the 80s to merit the 1st seamer spot...will await your views.( you have ofcourse kept TAS away fm the team)

6.Sriram is an interesting choice. I have known him from his U13 days when he used to practice at the YMCA in the late 1980s. He was a brilliant left arm spinner with a beautiful flight and big turn--- The number of stumpings he used to get those days. And his achievements during his under 13 days should have taken him to bigger heights as a bowler. Several reasons given but he turned into a batting allrounder and then finally became a batsman. He was always a good batsman(even during the U 13 days) but to me he had the potential to become a great left arm spinner.And hence may be i continue to see him as the 'spinner' discounting all of his contribution as a batsman to TN cricket.

From an angry young kid then, he has mellowed down, thanks to AOL

PRabhu S said...

2 more comments have come in and both interesting ones. Hence posting it here:

1. The exclusion of LS from the XI . This came in from a very close follower of Karnataka cricket (among other teams) for several decades, who used to watch every ranji match that karnataka played. His reasoning:

a. Siva was the 2nd best Leggie of the last 30 years in India
b. Siva was ‘once in a generation’ kind of bowler

He goes on to say that Siva could turn the ball anywhere and, more interestingly, points out that even today, Siva is probably the biggest cricketing brand from TN after Venkat and Srikkanth and that his choice should not be based on the number of wickets he took or the ‘length of career’

( He, like a couple of others here, also pointed out to VV Kumar as an automatic choice)

Terrific points these. However, LS, after his big bang start in 1982 against Delhi as a Vidya Mandir school boy (after which he was chosen for the WI tour), did not really contribute much to TN cricket with his bowling. He played on contributing usefully with the bat. S.Vasudevan, M. Venkatramana and Sunil Subramaniam (as pointed out by Dinesh) all contributed a lot more for TN cricket in their time. If LS had been a little more consistent, he may have had a set of leg spinners rolling out of TN modeling his action etc…(like how Warne created a renewed interest in spin bowling)

Also, in this XI, Srikkanth had already taken a place for the ‘brand of cricket’ rather than pure on the field performance (in terms of runs, consistency, number of hundreds etc). Hence, including LS would have led to making a 2nd exception. The only way he may have fitted into this XI - to play with just one fast bowler and to have opened the bowling with Robin.

2. The other comment was regarding the exclusion of S. Ramesh, Hemang Badani, S. Mahesh, J. Gokulakrishnan and Cricketer cum Umpire Madanagopal

This selection tracked players over 30 years- their contribution to TN cricket and the influence they have had on TN cricket

For example, Mahesh and Gokul may have had to compete for a place against TAS, L. Balaji and Kalli, Ramesh with V. Shiv, Srikkanth, CS and VB for an opening slot (and Raman too, based on Dinesh’s comment). The two middle order names that he has mentioned against the likes of Jabbar, TE, PC Prakash, Sriram, Sharath, Robin…

All of these players, while they have contributed to TN cricket for some length of time in the 1990s and early part of this century and will have their own place in history, have not really done enough to fit into this XI

dinesh said...

Like I promised, I forwarded this to my father and this is what he had to say in an e-mail to me:

"Whoever has picked this team,I must congratulate him as he has sufficient data,interest and possibly some very good knowledge about Madras Cricket.

If you ask my personal opinion I feel the best XI would be the following.

1.V.Sivaramakrishnan. 2.K. Srikanth.3. TE Srinivasan.4.W.V.Raman 5. Abdul Jabbar.

6.S.Sharath. 7.D.Vasu. 8. H.Sundaram ( Wicket Keeper )


12th man: Robin Singh

In my view and having played for Madras for almost 12 years in a row,there cannot be a Madras all time great team without TE Srinivasan and V.V. Kumar.TE probably was the best batsman Madras or Tamilnadu has ever produced.He is streets ahead of many names indicated in the list.I have seen him playing spinners like VV,Venkat,Prasanna and Chandrasekar.He would clobber them as he had such wonderful technique.He was equally at ease playing fast bowlers as well.

As regards VV Kumar, even today at the age of 72 years,he can bowl better than Piyush Chowla. V V is very special and there is no era or age for him to get included in the team.He was a magnificent leg spinner and I consider myself very fortunate and privileged to have played along side VV for 12 years.

I have dropped TA Sekar because he was not consistent,injury prone and cannot bowl pace for long spells.Further he was not a good user of old ball and a poor fielder.Infact I would not have agreed on my choice in the team but for the fact that I could use the old ball well and bowl long spells.

Robin Singh cannot beat Vasu in batting,bowling fast or spin and for his sheer consistency and versatality,he is an automatic choice.A wonderful cricketer who should have played for the country long time ago.Vasu is a good fielder too though not in the same class of Robin.

H.Sundram is the natural choice for wicket keeping.He was very good in collection,anticipation,quick leg movements to the left ( natural left hander )and very comfortable in handling VV,Venkat and other spinners.Sundaram was a vey handy bat too. Technically better wicket keeper than Bharat.

If you really want me to add the keeper of all time then the place will automatically go to K.R.Rajagopal who was about the best in the business and he was an excellent opening bat too.His inclusion will definitely lead to dropping two players namely V.Siva or Srikkanth and H.Sundaram.

Mind you I have missed out players like Satwendar,L.Siva,P.S.Moses etc;It is a pity.

Any way please convey my thanks to the guy who picked me in the team and more importantly, atleast now my son Dinesh would get to know about his father's cricketing abilities."

PRabhu S said...


Hi! Truly insightful comments.
Do convey my thanks to your dad.

1 I have heard a lot about K.R. Rajagopal, the man from Tirunelveli, not just of his batting and keeping but also stories of how he would throw away his gloves (if a bowler bowled really poorly), then pick up the ball and get a wicket immediately. I havent seen him play, though.

The only contention, i would have, in the squad listed is the exclusion of Robin.

I thought he brought in a lot of freshness and value to the team(mid-late 80s,that continued through the 90s) that was previously not there in TN...running between the wickets, fielding, aggression, playing long innings under pressure, not that D.Vasu lagged behind in any of these.

Anyway, thanks again for the comments


Toranto said...

Why kumaran ramesh.p and wd balagi rao have not been diccussed


PRabhu S said...

Thanks for the comment.

I did think through WD and Kumaran, when I wrote the team but did not write about them in the 'missed out' list.

These were my reasons:

1.My thought process was that WD did not make any impact in Ranji cricket. I thought Sunil Subramaniam, D.Vasu, Ashish were way ahead of him during his time, plus Venkatramana was there throughout and LS too. My sense always was that WD didn’t contribute much for TN. With Venkat a certainty in that XI, the other spinner spot in my thought process was between S.Vasudevan/ D.Vasu, Venkatramana and LS. Hence, WD wasn’t even considered.

2. P. Ramesh didn’t figure in my thought process at all…. S. Ramesh, S. Sriram and Hemang also didn’t figure in the discussion list. Somehow given Jabbar’s 10+ years of consistent performance and his value to the team and his contribution under pressure, I thought Jabbar had to figure in a TN team of the last 30 years for his all round contribution(batting and fielding) and the stability he gave the middle order.

3. May be not discussing Kumaran was a mistake. Though, when I thought of him while writing the XI, my sense was that Kumaran did not contribute enough to TN cricket and also his Ranji stint was short- only a few years, as was WD Balaji Rao’s. From a fast bowling point of view, the few names that went through in my mind were Kumaran, L. Balaji, Mahesh and the two I mentioned in that list (Bharat Kumar and B. Arun) and of course D.Vasu(as fast and spin bowler). And I thought Bharat’s and Arun’s contributions were better than Kumaran’s. May be not. I may have been wrong there.

PRabhu S said...

Comment from Mr. B.Kalyanasundaram (former opening bowler of TN and one of the quickest TN has seen) - Tuesday 4th September 2007

" I played with TE Srinivasan for several years in the TN Ranji team and more importantly played with him for 8 years or so at Jolly Rovers and interacted with him closely during this time.

In my view, he is beyond doubt the best batsman TN has seen. Not only was his footwork excellent against the best of spinners of his time( Venkat, VV, Chandra, Pras...), he was also very good facing up to the quickies. It was a delight to watch him bat.

It was unfortunate that he did not go on to play more international matches than he actually did. He had a sharp tongue(many times said in a light manner but taken too seriously) and may be that went against him.

In my view, he should figure in the all time XI of TN. That's a name not to be missed."

jaganathan k said...

I am at a loss for words how the the authorised out on the finest of cricketers Micheal Dalvi. I am sure he should have donned the national colours If Ashok Mankad Gopal Bose Parthasarathy Sharma and Brijesh Patel could have played for India Dalvi surely needs a more exalted place With the western and Northern India calling the shots for selection and south having no say in the selection process some of the out of the world players were ignored If a shop lifter Sudhir Naik was selected then you van imagine he cloutBombay wielded in the selection process Ramnath Parker was hardly club class but played in a test against Tony Lewis's M C C Cheap way to gain a place.

PRabhu S said...

Don't know if you were asking me how I left him out or if you are making just making a comment on his outstanding capabilities.

If it was the former, I think that had chosen from players who had represented in 77-78 and after.

And Dalvi had moved on at that time.

Hence had not considered him.

Just last month I had written about his 175 in a Gopalan Trophy match in Salem in the 74-75 season -that was to be his highest ever score aganist a strong Ceylon team.


jaganathan k said...

P k belliappa does not find in the playing X I An excellent batsman and wicket keeper Satwendar Singh a gritty cricketer P Mukund an useful all rounder R Prabhakar a batsmen who can keep De fillers stand and think with his big hitting and a very useful medium pacer The brothers Sushil Haridoss Sunil Haridoss all gifted cricketers Kedarnath an excellent cricketer with tonnes of runs in the local circuit You have left out these cricketers because SriRam was supporting the Iyengar Maphia because he himself was one.Are Iyengars the only one who are born to play the game.You have showered eulogies and encomiums on Venkatesan Raghavan which he hardly deserves. R.Venkatesh and M Sanotsh Kumar were way ahead of him. Venkatesan was arrogance personified and became a cricketer by default. Please do not get influenced by the wrong elements.

jaganathan k said...

I am not sure about the yardstick you use to include a cricketer in the all time list northern cutoff year I only recapitulate those glorious moments I had spent watching these demigods playing from the packed stands be in a Ranji trophy Duleep trophy Irani trophy local league test match or an O DI said...

I am planning to visit SASTRA to pick my son on Monday Evening by 4.00 p.m. so i plan a visit to the temple on way. As i am starting on sunday morning by 6.00 a.m. from Chennai. Please tell me the temples i can visit. My wife want to visit Kumbakonam Ramasamy Temple, Vaduvur Ramr & Thillai Valaga Ramar. Please give me the route plan and other temples what i can visit.


PRabhu S said...

You may visit:

1st half

Sarangapani Koil
Nachiyar Koil
Uppilappan koil

2nd half

Pulla Bhoothangudi Ramar
Athanur Ranganatha
Nathan Koil Jagannatha Perumal

2nd day morning/1st half

Mannargudi Rajagopalaswamy
Vaduvur Ramar

Thanjai Maa Mani (three temples)
Punnai Nallur Ramar (Thanjavur)

You may keep Thillai Vilagam for the next trip


natalia said...

Very well written. It is not a easy job to prune down to 11 from a pool of 50+ outstanding cricketers who played across 3 decades. But your analysis on the selection is spot on.
Thoroughly enjoyed reading your article as well as the comments from very eminent people including Mr. Kalyanasundaram for whom I have great respect.

Lakshmi Narasimhan V

nivedhitha reddy said...

very nice blog circle of cricket