You don’t have to know where G.R. Vishwanath lives. Ask anyone, especially a school kid or a college student in Rajajinagar, a suburb of Bangalore; he will only be too glad to walk all the way to show you the house.
Vishwanath himself, looking very smart in his casuals, greeted us. His room breathed cricket, kit, and photos and was all very quiet, to the point of brooding. GR Vishwanath speaks only when spoken to. Born on February 12, 1945, he started playing cricket at a very young age. Three wickets were hastily drawn against a neighbor’s wall in charcoal, using an old tennis ball and a homemade bat.
He did not play regular cricket until his high school days, where, in spite of his good performance, he was an old tennis ball and home eleven because he was too puny!
“Who was your hero, Vishwanath?”
Neil Harvey, whom I watched playing in Bangalore when I was fifteen, impressed me with his cool and faultless style. First-class cricket came to him in 1960 when he played in the Ranji Trophy, and the same year he joined the State Bank. Reminiscence, lie fell that his performance against Kent, where he got a hundred, was his best, next only to the thirty-three he scored in the final Test.
Of course, I was very sad to get out four short of victory; the honor of scoring went to Abid Ali.” Therefore, when asked to describe the bowling that he faced, he felt that he faced ball after ball on the stumps or on and just away. One has to have a lot of patience, footwork, and timing.
“Did you have an apprehension about the proverbial fast bowling?
“None, not me, had gotten over the psychological disadvantage after the West Indies tour.”
“What about the weather?”
“Surprisingly, it was sunny and we hardly lost five days of play due to rain.”
“Did you attend any coaching camps in your school days”?
“No, I picked up the game watching and playing.” Of course, I must mention that Manjrekar gave me a few batting tips, which have helped me a lot.”
“And what made us win?”
He thought for a minute, “improved fielding, especially at close ranges, good bowling, and batting. Teamwork and, of course, superb captaincy
“What about the English tail-enders?”
“They were just great’.
Just then, his father came out to meet us. He was conducting prayer inside and at once stuck to us with his simplicity and humility. G. Ranganath was a stenographer on the Electrical Board and was himself a weekend cricketer. GR Vishwanath gave him very anxious moments in his school days because of his marked preference for cricket pitches over classrooms! But now he is justifiably proud of his son.
“GR Vishwanath, did height trouble you against your rather lack of mighty bowling?” “No, even though. I had to face bouncers.” After a delightful cup of coffee, we took leave of him. He was busy packing up to go to Delhi to receive his Padmashree.