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 (, 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 at the forest college ground 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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.'

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Ezhuthurai Nathar Temple Innambur

Liberation from Stammering
A Prarthana sthalam to regain one’s Voice
The Lord’s Vimana is in the form of a sleeping elephant

Located 8kms from Kumbakonam off the Kallanai Highway is the ancient Ezhutharai Nathar temple in Innambur, a temple praised by Thiru Gnana Sambanthar and Thirunavukkarasarar. The base structure of the sanctum is a strong Karungal construction and there are several inscriptions dating back a 1000 years. Chozhas are said to have contributed to the temple and undertaken renovation in the 9th and 10th century AD

A sincere saivite devotee Sudasman took care of the accounts of the temple. The story goes that he once missed updating an entry and was summoned by the king the next day. Being the sincere devotee, that night he invoked the blessings of Lord Shiva. The next morning when he visited the king, he was told that the accounts were intact and that all entries were fine. While he was happy that he had got out of the awkward situation, he was surprised at this turn of events and wondered as to how this had happened. On return and on opening the door of the temple, Lord Shiva provided darshan to him as Ezhuthurai Nathar.

Liberation from Stammering
In Sanskrit, the Lord is referred to as Akshara Pureeswarar. He is said to provide solution to those with voice problem and stammering. A visit to the temple is believed to help those interested to develop their writing skills. As part of the process, one can visit the temple on any day and recite the relevant slokas as directed by Shivacharya.

Sun’s rays on the Lord
The Sun God’s rays falls on the Lord at 6.08 am on Avani 31, and Puratasi 1 and 2 as well as on 13th, 14th and 15th days of Panguni at 6.18 am. The town is named after the Sun God as Innambur (Suryan is referred to as Inan)

Unique Vimana
Another legend relates to the white elephant that was directed by Sage Agastya to invoke the blessings of Lord Shiva here for from a curse. After bathing in the sacred tank, east of the temple, the elephant found it difficult to enter as the steps were small. It is believed that Lord himself came down to the lift the elephant to enable the tusker to perform pooja at this temple. In memory of this event, the vimana is named as Gaja Pirashta Vimana, the sacred tank as Airavatha Theertham and the Lord as Airavateswarar. The Vimana is in a rare form – that of a sleeping elephant.

Performing an archanai on the full moon day for Nitya Kalyani at this temple is said to help the unmarried tie the wedding knot.

10 day Thiruvathirai festival
Thiru Kalyanam in Avani
Kodai Abishekam – 21 days in Chitrai 

The temple is open between 7am-12noon and 4.30pm-8pm. Contact Balasubramaniam Gurukal @ 94439 14958.

How to reach: Bus No. 6 every hour from Kumbakonam bus stand. Auto from Kumbakonam station will cost Rs. 125.

Srinivasa Perumal Temple, Innambur
½ km west of the Thevaram Sthalam is the Srinivasa Perumal temple in Innambur that is believed to have been constructed in the 17th century AD. 

The idol of the Lord was originally brought from Tirupathi to Navalpakkam from where it was secured and installed at this temple by the Veeravalli family.  

In decades gone by, the priest, Krishnamurthy Bhattachar from Pullam Bhoothangudi Valvil Rama Divya Desam (5kms west) would walk across the lush green paddy fields to perform pooja at this temple every day, such was his commitment to the Perumal of Innambur.
 The temple is open between 830am-1130am and 430pm-730pm.
Contact Sriram Bhattar @ 96008 23071