B S Chandrasekhar – Legendary Indian Leg Spinner!
B S Chandrasekhar is a former Indian cricketer who specialized in leg spin. Considered amongst the top echelon of leg-spinners, Chandrasekhar along with E.A.S. Prasanna, Bishen Singh Bedi and Venkataraghavan constituted the Indian spin quartet that dominated spin bowling in the 1960s and 1970s.
Born and educated in the city of Mysore, Chandrasekhar was infatuated with cricket from a very early age. Overcoming a polio attack which withered his right wrist as a child, he became one of the most successful leg spin bowlers in cricket history. An unorthodox bowler with an unusually long run-up, Chandrasekhar played in 58 Test matches, and collected 242 wickets in his career. Making his Test debut against England at Bombay in 1964, his most memorable performance was against England at The Oval on August 23, 1971 where he took six wickets for 38 runs, and helped India to a series win. Of the spin quartet, he was the most likely to bowl an unplayable delivery, and it brought India many laurels including its first victory in Australia. He was named as a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1972 and won the Wisden’s “Best bowling performance of the century” award in 2002, for his 6 wickets for 38 runs against England at the Oval in 1971.
Coffee With BS Chandrasekhar – Former Indian Leg SpinnerMe: Sundar Rajan G SBSC: B S Chandrasekhar
Me: You had a polio attack in your childhood and yet you managed to achieve your dream of playing for the country? How did you manage.. Can you talk about your early days?
BSC: I was born in Mysore on the 17th may 1945 and I had the attack of polio when I was 5 or 6. By the time I was around 10, my arm had largely recovered, though not to 100%. Like most children in the neighborhood, I enjoyed playing cricket with my brothers and friends.
Then we shifted to Bangalore in 1954 where I continued to play rubber ball cricket in the streets. It was in 1962 that I joined City cricketers just to enjoy leather ball cricket without any great expectations. Since I was playing for fun, I was able to try different styles of bowling. I tried left hand, fast bowling, and whatever else I felt that the famous bowlers at the time were doing.
In 1963, I started bowling leg spinners, the way I imagined Richie Benaud would, and succeeded in getting wickets regularly. In a short period of about 3-4 months, I reached the international level from the club level.
Me: Can you share 2 or 3 anecdotes about your most memorable moments in your cricketing days.. Especially some moments shared with the spin quartet..
BSC: It was a great experience climbing the ladder and reach the top of it. I was only 18 then and it was great to travel to different places in India and abroad and meet different people. That gave me a chance not only to meet the big people from different fields, but also a chance of meeting the prime ministers and Presidents of different countries. The entire experience itself of a person from Mysore meeting the queen of England and such “big” people was memorable for me.
On the cricket front, there was a time in ’76 in New Zealand when the umpiring was so bad that plum LBWs were not given several times in a row, even when it was obvious the batsman was out. My appeals were met with no reaction from the umpire. Then, I bowled the batsman out – and appealed to the umpire. When I appealed, the umpire said that the batsman is bowled. So I replied, “I know that he’s bowled, but is he out?”
Me: Thank you sir for sharing those amazing anecdotes.. You were a match winner abroad during the days when India wasn’t having a great record abroad.. You had 42 wickets in 5 test matches abroad.. How did you enjoy bowling aboard? Did you do anything differently?
BSC: I really enjoyed playing cricket everywhere. Since I was able to extract nip and bounce on any wicket, I didn’t try anything different on the foreign soil. I also had 5-6 different types of variations apart from the normal leg spinners which I utilized accordingly, depending on condition of the wicket. But again, this didn’t depend on the country.
Me: We have MRF Pace foundation for producing good fast bowlers.. Do you we must have similar academies for spin bowling to produce more spinners at the grass root levels? What other suggestions do you have to improve spin bowling in India?
BSC: Well they have the national cricket academy in Bangalore where they have camps for spinners also and they call spinners from India and other countries to come and coach the up and coming youngsters.
Me: Can you talk a bit about Sachin Tendulkar & Anil Kumble?
BSC: Without doubt both of them are greats. Both of them have survived for 20 years. They were able to adjust themselves in all 3 categories of the game successfully which is very difficult. Each category has different technique and different approach which one has to adjust accordingly and both of them have done it and were a very big success as well.
Me: A lot of us want to play cricket & represent the country.. But the slots are so few.. What is your advice for young & budding cricketers with high aspiration and odds so strongly against them?
BSC: I always recommend that you concentrate on your academics, unquestionably. The critical question to be answered here is whether the individual is confident of being Better than every other Indian in the population who is also equally interested in entering international cricket. If so, then go for it. If not, I would suggest concentrating on academics.
The odds of making it big in cricket are very small. Only 11 can play in a side. One has to contend with millions of people vying for those few spots. The odds of winning a lottery are probably better. Counting on making it big in cricket would be as risky as counting on winning a lottery ticket for your future.
Me: Thank you so much sir! It was fantastic having with you for this special edition of CWS! Thanks a lot for your time.