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Harsh Thakor

The Little genius Vishy turns 70 today-A tribute

Was Gundappa Vishwanath a truly great batsmen or just a very good one?  

10 members have voted

  1. 1. Was Gundappa Vishwanath a truly great batsmen or just a very good one?

    • Great
    • Very good
    • great but not all-time great


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Today we wish the legendary Gundappa Vishwanath a great 70th birthday.Here I wish to play the maestro a handsome tribute.

 

For sheer prowess or creative genius arguable no Indian batsmen could not equal if not surpass the legendary Gundappa Vishwanath.Vishy took batting wizardry to depths of the divine reminding you of a musical composer.His best batting took virtuoisty in the game to it's highest zenith.At his best he may have joined the Viv Richards.Tendulkars and Laras.Vishy's strokes posessed the grace of the touches of a painters brush and the imagination of a poet,taking the art of batting to another dimension.Some of the strokes he executed were his very own creation like his stroke which blended a flick,hook and a pull.His square or late-cutting resembled a magician performing.He blended his divine artistry with very sound technique thus being close to the most consummate batsmen of all.In my view simply the Indian equivalent of Rohan Kanhai.

 

Quoting a paragraph in 'The Citizen' today below

"Viswanath’s tenures at the crease could be compared to that of a musician at a concert. Like Ravi Shankar and Bismillah Khan in their arts, he held you spellbound with his matchless craft. You watched him with rapt attention as you would listen to the two others. He was always a great favourite with the crowd, who cheered him loud and long every time he came to the wicket, for they knew that while he was at the crease, they would witness batting in its highest art form. I watched Viswanath play several innings and not once can I remember the spectators booing him for slow scoring, though a Srikkanth or a Sehwag he was not. He was always watched with more than just keen interest. Even a defensive stroke - normally a dull thud of bat against ball – was a thing of beauty and grace when he played it. He sculpted his runs at the rate of roughly 25 an hour not with monotonous regularity but with strokes of ethereal beauty and grace. Seeing him execute some of his shots, which were the epitome of elegance, one was reminded of the work of sculptors, which is the work of perfection. There were touches of Vijay Hazare when he drove and shades of Vijay Manjrekar when he cut. While these strokes were predominant in his repertoire, he was also a daring hooker and had the most attractive leg glance one could hope to see."

 

India never lost a test match when Vishwanath scored a century.On a bad wicket or fast track he overshadowed even his brother-in-law Sunil Gavaskar.His unbeaten 97 at Madras v West Indies in 1974-75 is rated by Wisden amongst the top 10 test innings ever and even his 124 on the same venue against West Indies is ranked amongst the top 100 innings of all time.In those innings Vishy took batting artistry to regions of the sublime,simply the epitome of cricketing perfection.He bissected the most impregnable gaps with the skill and precision of a surgeon or sculptor.Vishy was also instrumental in some of India's famous wins like at Madras v West Indies in 1974-75 and 1978-79 ,Port of Spain in 1975-76 and at Melbourne in 1980-81.He was also a class act at Dunedin in New Zealand in 1975-76 on a wet pitch when scoring 79 and 83 blending the skills of an architect and a surgeon.Vishy also had the ability to take India out of the depths of despair to vase tests like at Delhi in 1981-82 when scoring a classical 107 and at Lords when scoring 112 in a historic match-saving partnership with Dilp Vengsarkar of 210 runs.He also had the ability to make staggering or mammoth scores like when scoring 222 v England at Madras in 1981-82 and 179 at Kanpur v West Indies in 1978-79.Both Andy Roberts and Dennis Lillee rated Vishy a better player on fast ,bouncy tracks than Gavaskar.Gavaskar himself rated Vishy to be the best batsmen he saw in his time.In matches won Vishwanath averaged 49,more than Gavaskar.To turn or win games Vishy in my view was the most impactful Indian batsmen of his era.Above all Vishy scored runs when India most needed them.

 

It is sad that we could hardly see Vishy much in the one day version of the game with his amazing skill to improvise.His 75 at Edgbaston in the 1979 Prudential World cup against an all-conquering Wist Indies pace attack ,ranks amongst the best batting counter-attacks ever against the great Calypso quartet. Sadly he never did true justice to his enormous talent getting out often to extravagant strokes or carelessness.If he wished or pursued bating records he would have averaged over 50 and scored possibly even 10 more test centuries.

 

.Possibly inconsistency denied Vishy a place amongst the all-time great batsmen and he may have just been edged by Viv Richards and the Chappell brothers for a place in the middle order of the 1970's world xi.Still before the advent of Viv Richards in 1974-75 and the advent of Ian Chapell towards the end of the 1970s Vishy may have made the world xi at no4 or 5 spot.

 

I would place Vishy just a notch below Colin Cowdrey,David Gower,Clive Lloyd ,Ted Dexter or Martin Crowe and virtually the equal of Zaheer Abbas,Mark Waugh and possibly V.V.S.Laxman.

 

For sheer batting talent I would place Vishy on par with Denis Compton ,Majid Khan or David Gower and only behind Rohan Kanhai,Brian Lara,Viv and Barry Richards ,Don Bradman and Wally Hammond.Amongst Indian batsmen I would only place Tendulkar,Gavaskar,Dravid and Kohli ahead oh Vishwanath.

 

In handling express pace I rank Vishy the best ever attacking batsmen from India and arguably even the entire sub-continent.

The batsmen who batted most like Vishy was the legendary West Indian maestro,Rohan Kanhai,close to the most consummate batsmen of them all.Other batsmen very similar were Kalicharan David Gower,Zaheer Abbas,Mark Waugh and Azharrudin.

 

 

Edited by Harsh Thakor
paragraphing and minor addition

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Greatest Asian batsman ever on tough wickets.

The 2nd most clutch Indian batsman of all time behind Laxman.

Didn't give a * about personal milestones or stats boosting, the greatest entertainer and crisis man rolled into one. 

A more prized wicket than Gavaskar for significant period of time their careers overlapped.

One of the greatest artists and shotmakers of all time.

'Vishy 100->India won't lose' was the mantra.

Greatest square cut in the history of cricket. 

Finest gentleman the sport has seen till date, too honest to be a captain. 

 

Happy Birthday Maestro !!!!

Edited by Gollum

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The greatness of Vishy is that I won't mind him as number 4 in all time India XI when the other claimants for that spot are SRT/Kohli. One player for whom stats don't do justice, against quality bowling and on treacherous tracks he can make even the elite tier 1 ATGs look like club players. 

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Eden Gardens old timers do love Sachin, Kapil, Pataudi, Srinath, 'hometown boy' Dada etc but they love 3 Indian cricketers in particular- Azhar, Laxman and Vishy. What the former 2 have done in Eden is well known, 'out of the world' resume. Vishy failed more than he succeeded there but one test match stands out which has made him such a cult figure for Calcutta/Kolkata cricket fans. 1975 India vs WI (Pataudi vs Lloyd, Viv's debut series) and we were trailing the series 0-2. 52 in 1st innings and 139 in 2nd innings....he stamped his name on the Eden turf with that 139.

 

Hardly anyone has taken the art of batsmanship to a higher level than what Vishy did in that innings. His battle against Andy Roberts in particular stood out, after that match the WI legend called him a greater batsman than Gavaskar (now his brother-in-law) and Greg Chappell...quite a few ATGs (including a certain Don Bradman) later on rated him as the best in the business but Roberts was a man of few words, very reserved either in praise or criticism. His square cuts earned their legendary reputation in that series, no matter how much Lloyd tried he couldn't stop the boundaries square of the wicket, most of them were hardly visible to naked eye. One particular shot stood out where Vishy was almost on all 4s as he cut a full pitched wide delivery between deep point and third man, ball raced to the boundary before either fielder could move....a very well known and oft repeated anecdote (among many others) for anyone visiting Eden. We won that match and cut the deficit by 1. 

 

In a later edition of Wisden's Almanack the writers chose a batsman for each shot, like Kanhai for hook, Viv for pull, Chappell for back foot drive, Gavaskar straight drive etc, Vishy had maximum shots in that selection including his famous cut shots...he had a variety of cut shots for the same delivery like how Roberts had variations in his bouncers and Gupte with his googlies. It's a pity that so few Indians today know about the great man, there are quite a few like him who reached the pinnacle and contributed massively to Indian cricket but lie forgotten now, but don't want to digress and bring the names of other Indian legends. This thread is about Vishy, let's stick to that and good on @Harsh Thakor for remembering him. 

Edited by Gollum

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Apologize for a factual inaccuracy in previous post, we were 0-2 down before the Calcutta test and on the back of his 139, we made it 1-2. Corrected it now, I got confused with the order of tests because there was another special knock that series. 

Edited by Gollum

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Alongside VVS, Vishy is the greatest match-winning batsman from India in Tests. His Top 5 performances in a match-winning cause:

 

52 and 139 vs WI Kolkata 1974/75

97 and 46 vs WI Chennai 1975 (IMO his greatest performance in Tests. Also the highest ranked sub-100 innings in Wisden's list IIRC)

41 and 112 vs WI Port of Spain 1976 (world record 4th innings chase at the time)

124 and 31 vs WI Chennai 1979 

114 and 30 vs Australia Melbourne 1981 (Arguably our finest win in Australia as we beat a side feat. Lillee, Chappell, Border etc to level the series)

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Very Happy Birthday.

 

Very good player imo. Scoring runs in 1970's was very tough. Sunny, Boycott, Viv, Greg Chappell and Dennis Amiss were the only handful ones who were scoring runs for fun in that decade. But Vishy was most wristy batsman of those times. He was also more attacking as compared to Sunny, whcih would also be his downfall or lack of big innings. His square cut was too good. Vishy played majority of the career in that decade and i think he did very well to average 41.93. Don't think it was his ceiling average, because at times he did try for attacking shots and got out in tests. Also a calm cricketer.  His knee was problematic which has troubled him in few series.

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He has played so many legendary knocks that I don't know where to begin, will take me hours and hours to do justice to his greatness. OP has written a really nice tribute (don't agree with the rankings, however respect his personal taste) but I feel there are at least 10 knocks of his, each could be expressed via an essay. Only want to add that after that famous 139 when we were 0-2 down came another epic knock which levelled the series. Those days Chepauk had one of the fastest, liveliest pitches in the world, lot of bounce and zip....a far cry from the pitch in recent times, pitch changed character in the 80s.  A low scoring match in which Vishy scored a famous 97* (lot of hooks sans helmet to go with the sublime cuts) in the 1st innings when Roberts was breathing fire and delivering a fast bowling masterclass (7fer, 12fer in match). It fell just short of a 100 but most connoisseurs of the game regarded it as the finest played by an Indian at home till Laxman's 281. Not to demean other greats but very very few like Vishy could have so many sub 100 scores rated so highly, artistry plus the circumstances in which they came...like his twin 80s against peak Hadlee in NZ the following year.

 

I won't say he underachieved, because he played for the joy of batting, was an artist and had creativity as a bigger priority than stats column...our very own Kanhai. May be that's why he was so clutch, the less you think about milestones, the less you are invested in fear of failure the more justice you can do to the art in its truest form. After he lost his fluency/flow he never tried to wriggle his way back in, he had enough class and ability to make a strong return but once he couldn't unleash his creative side he found no motivation to come back, merely plodding runs and making numbers, earning fame/money etc wasn't his style. 

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GRV is a prime example of how you don't judge or rate a player based on his cricinfo stats page. Kids these days will look at that average, 100s column and dismiss his overall standing. Batsmen like him are to their discipline what Mikhail Tal is to chess, stats wise Tal may be 14th or 15th ranked among the 16 undisputed world champions but when you delve deeper and put yourself in that historical time frame, see the circumstances in which his victories came, learn to appreciate the beauty and creativity of his games, listen to what peers say, what the other world champions say...that's when you realize his importance. Ditto for cricketers like Trumper, Doug Walters, Kanhai, Vishy etc...those who place them on a pedestal aren't fools, that's all I am saying.   

Edited by Gollum

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17 hours ago, Gollum said:

GRV is a prime example of how you don't judge or rate a player based on his cricinfo stats page. Kids these days will look at that average, 100s column and dismiss his overall standing. Batsmen like him are to their discipline what Mikhail Tal is to chess, stats wise Tal may be 14th or 15th ranked among the 16 undisputed world champions but when you delve deeper and put yourself in that historical time frame, see the circumstances in which his victories came, learn to appreciate the beauty and creativity of his games, listen to what peers say, what the other world champions say...that's when you realize his importance. Ditto for cricketers like Trumper, Doug Walters, Kanhai, Vishy etc...those who place them on a pedestal aren't fools, that's all I am saying.   

and kids like you believe too much perception and nostalgia.  One-two good innings dont make anyone great.  Such innings just create perception and an average of 42 reveals that he failed to deliver such innings consistently.  He could at best be called a mercurial batsman. what former cricketers say cannot be taken for gospel.  No one is going to say bad things in the public.

Edited by rkt.india

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21 hours ago, Gollum said:

GRV is a prime example of how you don't judge or rate a player based on his cricinfo stats page. Kids these days will look at that average, 100s column and dismiss his overall standing. Batsmen like him are to their discipline what Mikhail Tal is to chess, stats wise Tal may be 14th or 15th ranked among the 16 undisputed world champions but when you delve deeper and put yourself in that historical time frame, see the circumstances in which his victories came, learn to appreciate the beauty and creativity of his games, listen to what peers say, what the other world champions say...that's when you realize his importance. Ditto for cricketers like Trumper, Doug Walters, Kanhai, Vishy etc...those who place them on a pedestal aren't fools, that's all I am saying.   

Brilliant post.Statistics just do not do him justice or always place a batsmen in true light or perspective.Best examples are Ian Chappell,Mark Waugh,Majid Khan and Rohan Kanhai in addition to Vishy.Many rtaed Kanhai above Sobers and Ian ahead of bother Greg.Majid at his best was in the very top class.

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4 hours ago, rkt.india said:

and kids like you believe too much perception and nostalgia.  One-two good innings dont make anyone great.  Such innings just create perception and an average of 42 reveals that he failed to deliver such innings consistently.  He could at best be called a mercurial batsman. what former cricketers say cannot be taken for gospel.  No one is going to say bad things in the public.

Never forget his remarkable consistency  when India faced a crisis.Vishy turned or won more games than Gavaskar and on many an occasion resurrected  India from the grave.His best 10 innings were classics.Vishy averaged 6 more runs than Sunny in winning causes.It was not one ot tow knocks but several great innings which above all  served the cause for India.Remember his best innings versus West Indies,Australia ,New Zealand and England which were scored when the chips were down.Half a dozen of them could be rated with the all-time classics.

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22 hours ago, Jimmy Cliff said:

Alongside VVS, Vishy is the greatest match-winning batsman from India in Tests. His Top 5 performances in a match-winning cause:

 

52 and 139 vs WI Kolkata 1974/75

97 and 46 vs WI Chennai 1975 (IMO his greatest performance in Tests. Also the highest ranked sub-100 innings in Wisden's list IIRC)

41 and 112 vs WI Port of Spain 1976 (world record 4th innings chase at the time)

124 and 31 vs WI Chennai 1979 

114 and 30 vs Australia Melbourne 1981 (Arguably our finest win in Australia as we beat a side feat. Lillee, Chappell, Border etc to level the series)

Congrats sir You hit the very nail on the head.Great post

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22 hours ago, Gollum said:

He has played so many legendary knocks that I don't know where to begin, will take me hours and hours to do justice to his greatness. OP has written a really nice tribute (don't agree with the rankings, however respect his personal taste) but I feel there are at least 10 knocks of his, each could be expressed via an essay. Only want to add that after that famous 139 when we were 0-2 down came another epic knock which levelled the series. Those days Chepauk had one of the fastest, liveliest pitches in the world, lot of bounce and zip....a far cry from the pitch in recent times, pitch changed character in the 80s.  A low scoring match in which Vishy scored a famous 97* (lot of hooks sans helmet to go with the sublime cuts) in the 1st innings when Roberts was breathing fire and delivering a fast bowling masterclass (7fer, 12fer in match). It fell just short of a 100 but most connoisseurs of the game regarded it as the finest played by an Indian at home till Laxman's 281. Not to demean other greats but very very few like Vishy could have so many sub 100 scores rated so highly, artistry plus the circumstances in which they came...like his twin 80s against peak Hadlee in NZ the following year.

 

I won't say he underachieved, because he played for the joy of batting, was an artist and had creativity as a bigger priority than stats column...our very own Kanhai. May be that's why he was so clutch, the less you think about milestones, the less you are invested in fear of failure the more justice you can do to the art in its truest form. After he lost his fluency/flow he never tried to wriggle his way back in, he had enough class and ability to make a strong return but once he couldn't unleash his creative side he found no motivation to come back, merely plodding runs and making numbers, earning fame/money etc wasn't his style. 

If he did full justice to his ability he would have averaged 10 runs more.He under achieved in the sense that his concentration wavered unlike Gavaskar,Dravid or Sachin.At his best to me in the Viv Richards class,which you explain.

Edited by Harsh Thakor

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23 hours ago, Gollum said:

Eden Gardens old timers do love Sachin, Kapil, Pataudi, Srinath, 'hometown boy' Dada etc but they love 3 Indian cricketers in particular- Azhar, Laxman and Vishy. What the former 2 have done in Eden is well known, 'out of the world' resume. Vishy failed more than he succeeded there but one test match stands out which has made him such a cult figure for Calcutta/Kolkata cricket fans. 1975 India vs WI (Pataudi vs Lloyd, Viv's debut series) and we were trailing the series 0-2. 52 in 1st innings and 139 in 2nd innings....he stamped his name on the Eden turf with that 139.

 

Hardly anyone has taken the art of batsmanship to a higher level than what Vishy did in that innings. His battle against Andy Roberts in particular stood out, after that match the WI legend called him a greater batsman than Gavaskar (now his brother-in-law) and Greg Chappell...quite a few ATGs (including a certain Don Bradman) later on rated him as the best in the business but Roberts was a man of few words, very reserved either in praise or criticism. His square cuts earned their legendary reputation in that series, no matter how much Lloyd tried he couldn't stop the boundaries square of the wicket, most of them were hardly visible to naked eye. One particular shot stood out where Vishy was almost on all 4s as he cut a full pitched wide delivery between deep point and third man, ball raced to the boundary before either fielder could move....a very well known and oft repeated anecdote (among many others) for anyone visiting Eden. We won that match and cut the deficit by 1. 

 

In a later edition of Wisden's Almanack the writers chose a batsman for each shot, like Kanhai for hook, Viv for pull, Chappell for back foot drive, Gavaskar straight drive etc, Vishy had maximum shots in that selection including his famous cut shots...he had a variety of cut shots for the same delivery like how Roberts had variations in his bouncers and Gupte with his googlies. It's a pity that so few Indians today know about the great man, there are quite a few like him who reached the pinnacle and contributed massively to Indian cricket but lie forgotten now, but don't want to digress and bring the names of other Indian legends. This thread is about Vishy, let's stick to that and good on @Harsh Thakor for remembering him. 

A truly beautiful post sir.Feel we are sitting with each other.

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