Friday, August 26, 2016

Krishnaswamy V

The TN opener from the 1970s who mentored several youngsters at IOB 
In the mid 90s, Kerala Ranji player KN Ananthapadmanabhan refused a four-fold increase in salary to move from IOB to India Cements. VB Chandrasekar, the then captain of India Cements, called in Ananthapadmanabhan to his house for a discussion but that meeting lasted just a minute.  Anantha told VB that  the love and care (at IOB) was extraordinary, it was like a family team and that he would not move for the lure of money.’ No amount of financial motivation could lure the leggie away from IOB.

That is  V Krishnaswamy (Kichcha to his friends) for you. The TN state opener from the 1970s had moved away from all cricketing activities to focus on a professional career at IOB in the early 1980s. And yet, from far away, he followed IOB cricket and took care of each of the cricket players like one of his own family. 

Just a year prior to Ananthapadmanabhan refusing this lucrative offer, it was Krishnaswamy who was instrumental in roping in Ananthapadmanabhan from a star studded Chemplast to IOB. Completely trusting Krishnaswamy, the then 23 year old leggie quit the job at Chemplast and remained without a job for almost 6 months while Krishnaswamy was convincing his management that Anatha was indeed a good long term pick for the team.

15years earlier, it was the same trust that had led collegiate cricketer NP Madhavan to choose IOB ahead of several other corporate offers and much stronger banks like SBI and RBI.

Bowl from 18 yards, please
B Kalyanasundaram (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2011/08/kalli-b-kalyanasundaram.html), the great fast bowler from the 60s and 70s, says that Kichcha once asked him to bowl from 18 yards in the nets. There were no helmets in those days and most of the league matches were on matting wickets. This showed the fearless side to his character and his keenness to gear up to the best of challenges. 

Aside of his fearless style of cricket, Kalli says that Kichcha was one of the most honest cricketers he had seen. ‘You could trust him completely and he personally took delight in seeing others succeed.’

The Early days in the 1960s
Krishnaswamy had no fear of fast bowling right from his days at PS high school in the late 60s. Before he had turned 15, he started scoring heavily in the third division league playing for CUC.  The very first year for the State schools was an outstanding one for Krishnaswamy and the amount of runs he accumulated earned him a place in the South Zone squad. He captained the state schools the next year and narrowly missed the flight to Australia with the India Schools team, one that comprised of Brijesh Patel and Karsan Ghavri, among others.

Huge Influence on his cricket
The one and a half month coaching camp organized by TNCA in the summer of 1969 under the stewardship of MJ Venkatesan made a huge impact on Krishnaswamy. Thanks to Venkatesan, he learnt the art of playing all around the wicket. Venkatesan would throw cricket balls at Krishnaswamy and get him to play a wide range of strokes both off the front and back foot on both sides of the wicket.

In 69-70, the year he joined Vivekananda College, he signed up for Bunts (in the first division), a team that provided him with the big early encouragement that is so critical for a teenager. The then captain KSS Mani had a lot of faith in Krishnaswamy and liked his fearless style of play. That season playing against a strong SBI side that included VV Kumar at his best, Krishnaswamy scored a fighting century. And then under the captaincy of his cousin S Venkataraghavan, he made a stroke filled 90 for TNCA XI against Jolly Rovers in the Buchi Babu final, a knock that earned him a place in the Ranji Trophy squad at the age of 17.

He was very consistent throughout his college days scoring several centuries during that phase. He also scored heavily for the Madras University including a stand out knock of 140 in a match where Sundaresan scored a double hundred. He followed that knock with a 90 against Bangalore University at Dharwar. It was the first of many big knocks against Karnataka who turned out to be his favourite opposition in the 1970s.

Ranji Debut @ 17
He made his Ranji debut in November 1970 against Kerala at Tellichery. The following year Madras University won the South Zone championship under his captaincy. Unfortunately, he had to miss the two most talked about matches in TN cricketing history – the Semi Final and Final in the 72-73 season (his university exams coincided with those two matches).

Soon after he completed his graduation, IOB offered him a job that Krishnaswamy took up with no second thoughts, even though he had offers from corporate giants SPIC and TVS as he felt that the bank offered better long term career prospects for him. He played for a decade for IOB and mentored many players during this period. 


The best match of his life
In January 1975, Krishnaswamy played the best match of his career, one that TN lost to unfancied AP by just one run. The loss still hurts him when he is reminded of that match. He was involved in a big partnership with TE Srinivasan in the low 4th innings chase but his dismissal triggered a collapse.

Best year in Cricket – Crucial knocks against Bedi/Shivalkar/Chandra
Margazhi of 1975-76 turned out to be his best month in first class cricket. In the Ranji match, he top scored against Hyderabad. A week later, on a turning pitch at Chepauk end of December 1975, he scored a top class half century against Bishen Bedi and Rajender Goel in the final of the Duleep Trophy that South Zone won.
A few days later, he scored another half century, this time against West Zone in the Deodhar Trophy Final and followed this in a couple of days with yet another 80 against Chandra and Prasanna, the fourth year in succession that he enjoyed success against Karnataka in the Ranji Trophy. He was in the Rest of India squad for the Irani Trophy match against Bombay in Delhi in 1976 but narrowly missed making it into the XI. That was the closest he came to national reckoning.

A wedding gift to his wife - His first Ranji century
Towards the end of his Ranji career, Krishnaswamy scored his first and only Ranji century in Coimbatore. It was a special match for Andhra was bowled out for just 29 runs. Krishnaswamy had just got married to his long time girl friend Radha and it seemed that he had decided to hand her a special wedding gift as he came up with a terrific century. In the process, he also put on a century stand with his opening partner for almost a decade V Sivaramakrishnan. He saw a future in banking and quit cricket before he turned 30.
Sivaramakrishnan has fond memories of their decade long association on the cricket field ‘Kichcha was immensely talented. I remember the year when he struck century after century for the college. He would simply dominate the bowling. In a match against Pachaiyappas College, playing normal cricketing shots the two of us put together a century stand in just 10 overs which was a rare occurrence in those days. His cover drive was a treat to watch and he was an excellent fielder in the cover region. I learnt a lot just by watching his game. He was a very meticulous person, had a systematic approach to the game and was a supremely confident person.’

Cousin Venkat and Krishnaswamy
In TN, it has always seemed that ‘we’ spoke more than warranted. In those years, there was a lot of gossip that went around including ‘stories’ on cousin Venkat playing a role in his selection. Venkat was his cousin and elder to him by almost 10 years. Krishnaswamy clears the air on this. 

He says that they had a cordial relationship but rarely discussed cricket at home so much so that Krishnaswamy has not even discussed the infamous knock of 36 NO by Gavaskar in 60 overs in the inaugural world cup in 1975 under Venkat’s captaincy, this even after 40 years. He says that much against the popular perception, Venkat was always well intended. He never carried grudges. He almost never cribbed. ‘To me, he has never said a bad thing about any player. On the field his expectations were high and he would let know his feelings in a very expressive way.  But he never spoiled anybody’s career.’

The ‘Sporting’ Love Story
It was December of 1972 and Krishnaswamy had just taken off his pads after his 15 minute batting stint in the University camp nets when his eyes fell on the star athlete, Radha, who was training at the Union ground. And they instantly hit it off so much so that she even trained him on fitness and weight training at the Rajaratnam stadium in the 1970s and was a regular at the Ranji matches that he played!!!
Well over four decades later, both of them past 60, still remain fitness fanatics. She still runs a full Marathon (42 kms) and takes part in leading marathons across the country. She has been a fitness trainer for the TN women’s cricket team for the last three years. Previously, she has been a fitness trainer for the Bombay U19 women’s team and currently trains marathon runners. At 63, Krishnaswamy is a regular at the gym at MCC and does a 2 hour fitness training session every day. No wonder he looks fit and strong.

A century soon after a serious Skull Injury
Kichcha with NP Madhavan, M Santosh Kumar and TA Sekar in Kerala

In 1983, after he had stopped playing and had gone on a posting to Gujarat, his employer IOB called for his cricketing services and he returned to Madras to play a few matches. At the Tirupanuthura tournament that season, his skull was broken facing a quick K Arun Kumar that required a major operation. And yet soon after, he took on TA Sekar (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2013/08/ta-sekar-fastest-indian-bowler-of-1980s.html) at his fiery best to score 170 in a league match at Marina on a matting wicket, his most memorable innings in cricket. Late H Sundaram was with Kichcha right through at the hospital in Kerala and it was he who brought Kichcha back by train to Madras. Sundaram was a great source of strength for him in those dark hours especially as Kichcha’s family did not even know about the injury till he reached home. 

Soon he had an overseas posting in Seoul (Korea) -1984-88 and achieved a steady rise in the Bank until his voluntary retirement in 2012 as GM. He then took on the role of President and COO at KVB in Karur for three years before returning to Madras last year.
                     
Big Mentoring Role at IOB
During the period of his cricketing career from the late 60s to the early 80s, he won the hearts of many of a colleague with his honest approach to life and his helpful attitude that the cricketers from that era are grateful for. In fact, he remained helpful to cricketers well past his playing days. He saw it as his duty to share his experiences with others in the team and to help them grow. The respect others (especially at IOB) had for him was so immense that he was a father figure and mentor to many of the youngsters of the era gone by. And almost all of them continue to cherish the memories from the decades gone by.

Ranji Cricketer NP Madhavan (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2016/05/np-madhavan.html) had been in prolific form as a collegiate cricketer in the mid 70s and had offers from multiple banks even as he was completing his graduation. It was Krishnaswamy who managed to convince Madhavan to join IOB. It was a time when Krishnaswamy was at the end of his Ranji career while Madhavan was trying to making his way into the Ranji squad as an opener. 

Madhavan heaps huge amount of praise on Krishnaswamy for playing a mentoring role in that early phase. 
‘Through those 3-4 years that I was at IOB, he motivated everyone in the team. He was personally very hard working. We used to discuss everything in practice and each of the players understood their respective roles. For a team that did not have big stars, it was his motivation and personal involvement that helped the players perform to the top of their potential that resulted in IOB performing very creditably both in the league as well as in the tournaments that we participated in. It was a golden period for IOB and a lot of credit for that should go to Krishnaswamy in the way he brought the team together.’

First player to give importance to fielding
Former Ranji Trophy winning captain Vasudevan (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2007/10/s-vasudevan-tn-ranji-winning-captain.html) played under Krishnaswamy’s captaincy for Vivekananda College in the early 70s. He calls him an astute captain and says that he brought out the best in every individual. Under his captaincy, Young Men’s Club, a team comprising of cricketers from different league teams, won many private tournaments.

'He performed extraordinarily at the college and university level. He was clearly the best opener in that phase with the amount of runs he scored. Even at the Ranji level, he did make useful contributions at the top of the innings.’

‘Kichcha was probably the first cricketer to give importance to fielding. He himself was a brilliant fielder and under his captaincy, the college team would have long sessions of fielding practice. It was also Kichcha who inculcated hard work as a daily routine and that really helped a lot of the budding cricketers of that time to progress into the next level.’

A Motivator, Mentor and above all a Honest Human being
He opened the batting for Tamil Nadu through the 1970s, most of the time with V Sivaramakrishnan with whom he had previously opened for the State Schools, Vivekananda College and Madras varsities. His record for Tamil Nadu may not be something to write home about, though every now and then he showed glimpses of his grit and determination, symbolized by his consistent knocks against Chandra, Prasanna and Vijayakrishna year on year through the first half of the 70s.

With the local matches being played on matting, there was a huge technical adjustment that was required to be made on turf wickets at the state level against top class bowlers.  There was not too much technical guidance in those days, especially in critical periods when players went through a downturn (a fact that L Sivaramakrishnan too touched upon as a critical factor for him when he went through that phase in the late 1980s).

Krishnaswamy has a philosophical view on cricket and life ‘One has to realize that it is one’s own performance that matters in the end. And one only has to look outside of himself to realize how blessed we are in our lives. ‘I could have wished/wanted to be Sunil Gavaskar’s opening partner for the life time of my career but I couldn’t be because of my own reasons’!!!

His best Knocks
Match winning 90 against Chandra/Prasanna on a rank turner at Chepauk in Feb 73
Half century against Rajender Goel and Bishen Bedi in the Duleep Trophy Final in Dec 75


Quitting Chemplast trusting Kichcha was the biggest decision of my life - Ananthapadmanabhan  

In the early 1990s, Leggie Ananthapadmanabhan was a tenant at Kichcha’s house in Mylapore along with a few other cricketers including UR Radhakrishnan (Kichcha was working in Ranchi at that time). When he returned to Madras, Ananthapadmanabhan moved to the next flat. Kichcha, who continued to track TN cricket closely even after his playing days, had heard of Anantha and his potential. Anantha was employed with Chemplast at that time. 

One day, Kichcha called on Anantha and asked if he would join IOB if he got an officer’s post and that he would pitch for it with the management. It was unheard of at that time – to get a direct officer posting for a cricketer (who had not even played Zonal cricket). But it was to take some time.

It was one of the biggest decisions he had taken at that time but he had great respect for Kichcha and trusted him and quit the job at Chemplast in March 1993. He was without a job for a few months but started playing for IOB in the league. Finally, the officer’s posting came in Aadi of 1993. He joined a month later in the 2nd half of August.

‘In the very first season, I got close to 50 wickets for IOB. Kichcha gave me a lot of confidence. He was a task master. He roped in his wife Radha for fitness training, something unheard in the bank circuit at that time. He used to come back from office at 5.15 pm and provide us with fielding practice. After having been at the bottom zone of the table the previous year, we were in the top four that year having beaten Chemplast, MRF and IC.

Later when he was posted to Delhi, he would often enquire about my well being and followed my progress.  He would even come to watch me during my zonal match in Delhi. He was really a father figure to me. During that period we went twice to Malaysia ( again unheard of for Banks in the city) and even won a tourney there beating a strong India Cements. We won the IPCL tourney beating the cream of corporate clubs in India such was the unity that he had forged in the team.
  
'Through that phase, Kichcha would constantly call me to ask if I required any particular player for the team and he would go out of his way to securing approvals. Such was his involvement with IOB cricket.'

20 comments:

Adithya Balasubramanian said...

Yet another brilliant write up! Joy to read. Thanks for sharing it.

Srikanth Srinivasan said...

Excellent narrative and inspiring story for all! Thanks Prabu for one more worthy article!

Anonymous said...

Read the piece mr.prabhu.excellant !.

lovely research and presentation.

congrats!

Anonymous said...

Superb story sir.

Anonymous said...

Prabhu,excellent article about Krishnaswamy.

I don't know him personally but have played against him a couple of times.What he lacked in flair he made up with his determination.

Keep writing.Someday I would like to see you author a book.You have it in you.God bless you.

affly,
Ramesh.N.S.

H IYAPPAN said...

Prabhu, excellent,nice article and analysis.

keep the good work going

Regards

H.IYAPPAN

Unknown said...

Nice and good article about my close friend Kicha .Kicha was was great friend and guide to his close friends.

Sundar said...

A lovely piece Prabhu.I was Kicha's team mate in IOB and it was always a pleasure playing alongside him. A real task master, he will leave no stone unturned to win, legitimate of course.With unquestionable integrity and loyalty to the institution both on and off the field, he made a good career with the bank retiring as GM.He was so obsessed with his career that even during Ranji Matches he use go back to the branch after the day's play and work late night.He also used to insist that we cricketers should also learn banking so that we can make a career out of banking after our playing days are over.It was only because of him guys like us were successful in our careers as well. We owe a lot to him.Guys like him are a rarity these days. MSundar

Anonymous said...

Another brilliant piece of article on Mr. V. Krishnaswamy the other day. But for you and your timely articles, I would not know about the heritage of cricket in TN as we are not always aware of all the players who have made an impact in TN cricket.

Sriram Krishnamurthy
Coach Wellington Club, New Zealand

Anonymous said...

Very nicely written da.

Promodh Sharma
(former Kunal Engineering/Rising Stars player)

PRabhu S said...

Ramesh Sir,

Thanks for your kind words and the blessings.

Prabhu

Anonymous said...

Very nice article . Brings out the true aspect of “ Love for the game “

I had heard about him but not to this extent …same talent from Mumbai might have progressed to greater height in terms of representing country etc ..,.but he seems to be a contended man and that’s more important

Anonymous said...

Brilliant... Thoroughly loved this one, as ever :)

(from Dubai)

Brigadier K Sampath ,( Retd) said...

Dear Mr Prabhu, it was a pleasure reading such wonderful blogs about my cousin Kicha. Incidentally my late elder brother Ramesh Sampath played with Kicha in TN University team and later against him in Ranji Trophy when my brother played for Kerala during the same period.

Anonymous said...

Very nice and more to realty than exaggeration.

His best knock was the one at Marina hitting many sixes of T A Sekar, some over covers, that too after a head injury.

How much we were all praying that he will not be hurt again even though he wore a helmet.

Nice article. well done.

Parthasarathy
IOB

Anonymous said...

I was still in the University when he was already a Ranji player. He would help us enormously during those days getting us to bowl in the Ranji nets and giving us a lot of confidence.

I remember in 1975-76 he came very close to national selection but could not make it.


He contributed a great deal for IOB and helped the fellow players. All the players liked him for his attitude.

TA Sekar

Anonymous said...

Kicha was a very good cricketer and a terrific human being.

During those days in the 1970s, I would leave office after 3pm and head to the nets.

He was always looking to improve his batting.I did throw downs for him after the nets and he would play many different strokes.

At the end of the nets session, late in the evening, he would drop me in his two wheeler at my house in Mylapore.

This became a regular feature during those days.

Ramji
(IOB/ Umpire)

Anonymous said...

I came to know V.Krishnaswamy through his cousin, V.Krishna Sampath, who was my classmate and a very close friend. I used to regularly visit Kicha's house in Sullivan Garden Road near Vivekananda College. I was in touch with V.K even after leaving Vivekananda College. He joined IOB and I Syndicate bank. It is very true that after his matches he used to work late hours in the bank. When I was transferred to Delhi, he was AGM in the Parliament Street branch of IOB and I used to visit his branch frequently. Since he is a man of few words people assume he is egoistic. Not at all. He is a down to earth guy. Inspite of his high position in his career he always remained grounded. Since I moved in to Mangalore from Chennai 8 years ago, I have lost contact with him. My contact number is 09008892757. My classmate and Kicha's cousin Krishna Sampath rose to become a Brigadier in the Indian Army. All the best to the cousins and their families.

H.Madhusudhan Bhandarkar said...

Sorry, I forgot to mention my name in my comments. I am H.Madhusudhan. Krishna Sampath should remember our association for a year in P.U.C. in Vivekananda College, Mylapore, Chennai. We used to sit next to each other in the classes. The year was 1969. I had last spoken to Brig. Sampath way back, if I remember, in 2001, when I took my Premature retirement from Syndicate bank and started teaching music. I presently take classes in guitar, keyboard, mouthorgan, harmonium and Western Music Theory. Although I miss Chennai a lot, I am leading a peaceful life teaching music.

H.Madhusudhan Bhandarkar said...

In 1984, When I was transferred to Hyderabad, I was thrilled to meet V.Krishnaswamy at the Chennai airport. He was leaving for Seoul, South Korea, for a 4 year stint. We wished each other best of luck. A memorable meeting.
H.Madhusudhan Bhandarkar.