Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Player and an Umpire

Srinivasaraghavan Venkataraghavan was born on 21st April 1945 at Madras. He was commonly known in the Indian cricket team as `Venkat’. The English media found it very difficult to pronounce his full name. Instead, they started calling him `Rent-a-Wagon’. Before he played professional cricket, he was a mechanical engineer. Srinivas Venkataraghavan was a right hand bat and a right arm off spinner. He made his test debut on 27th February 1965 against New Zealand. He came into the tests at the age of twenty and was selected to play against the touring New Zealand side. He made his mark as a world class spinner by taking twelve wickets in the Delhi test in 1965, leading India to victory. He played his last test on 24th September 1983 against Pakistan. He made his one day matches debut on 13th July 1974 against England at Headingley. He played his last one day match on 7th April 1983 against the West Indies. He played first class cricket between 1963 and 1985. Srinivas Venkataraghavan played 57 tests, scoring 748 runs and picking up 156 wickets with a best of 8/72. He played 15 one day matches and picked up 5 wickets. He played 412 first class matches and picked up 1,454 wickets. He played for Madras in the Ranji Trophy. He played for Derbyshire between 1973 and 1975. He has umpired in 73 test matches and 52 one day matches. He was honoured by the International Cricket Council in 2004 for his contribution to the game of cricket as he remains the only person in cricket to have played and officiated as an umpire in over fifty test matches. His test career was one of the longest of any Indian players along with Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar. Srinivas Venkataraghavan belonged to the famous Indian spin quartet. The spin quartet among themselves picked up more than nine hundred test wickets in the nineteen sixties and the seventies. He was a good close-in fielder and a useful bat in the lower order. He was the Vice Captain under Ajit Wadekar when India toured West Indies and England in that historic year of 1971. He played an important role in both the series where India was victorious beating the mighty West Indies and England on their home soil. He took five wickets in the Trinidad test and picked up thirteen wickets in the three test series in England. He led India in both the one day World Cup tournaments in 1975 and 1979 in which India could manage only one win against East Africa. Srinivas Venkataraghavan is remembered for his idiosyncratic manner of declaring a batsman out as an umpire with his right arm held out to his side and elbow almost bent to a ninety degree angle and his index finger raised hesitantly along with a gentle nod of his head. As an administrator, he participated widely by being the manager of the Indian team, a match referee and an umpire. He was known to be short tempered. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 2003.

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