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Face to Face

  EAS Prasanna
  TA Sekhar
  Madan Lal
  Shivlal Yadav
  Roger Binny
  DK Gaekwad
  Vijay Hazare
  Kiran More
  Eknath Solkar
  Madhav Apte
  Karsan Ghavri
  Ajit Wadekar
  Balwinder Sandhu
  Baloo Gupte
  Polly Umrigar
  Chandra Nayudu
  CD Gopinath
  Mushtaq Ali
  Mansur Pataudi
  Maninder Singh
  Chandu Sarwate
  Chetan Chauhan

EAS Prasanna (Part I)

Meet EAS Prasanna Face to Face as part of CricInfo's video/audio interview series.

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EAS Prasanna
"He (Worrell) congratulated me that I bowled exceedingly well. The next morning, he hammered me which I accepted! That (West Indies) tour was an education for me."

[ Complete profile of EAS Prasanna ]

On his rise from university to state to Test cricketer in the 1961/62 season

Yes I know it is a sort of meteoric rise because very few people had anticipated it. I played in the juniors to start with and was provided a chance to play against Hyderabad in the Ranji Trophy, the first time six youngsters were inducted into the state team. I came out pretty successful with 3/15 and we got the first innings lead. More important was the match against Madras where I got seven wickets. Then I was called upon to play for South Zone against West Zone in Bombay and for the first time on the Brabourne wicket, two off spinners succeeded: Kripal Singh and myself. In those days I was doing my engineering at the National Institute of Engineering (NIE) in Mysore, so that actually prompted me to be inducted into the Combined Universities XI under Ajit Wadekar in Pune against Ted Dexter's touring side. Myself and one Viswanath, another colleague of mine from Mysore who was also an engineering student, both of us took some wickets and there was a big write-up about the spin combination of Prasanna and Viswanath. Looking into the circumstances then, he had some very constructive advice from his parents and took up engineering in all seriousness. Somewhere along the line, I was wavering, and I was always not too shrewd a person in the sense that I was not firm- minded but easy-going. That prompted me to continue to play cricket. Then I was called to play for the President's XI under Pataudi. It was the first time I saw him and Pataudi was quite impressed with my bowling because I was one person who used flight as a weapon. [Audio]

On his Test debut against England

I played for South Zone against the touring England side where I picked six wickets. That prompted the Indian selectors to select me in Madras (for the fifth Test) even though I had already been called to Calcutta (for the fourth Test) as a replacement. I was there in the 14 and that was the first time I saw a Test. I fielded for about 10-15 minutes, so I got a feel of the Test atmosphere. Subsequently, as I said, I was called for the South Zone match and I was induucted to play. Let me tell you very honestly, I never felt like I was playing for India at all because even though there was a lot of hype, I never felt the pressure of Test cricket. One thing that gave me a lot of confidence was that when I was not picked for the Delhi Test, Pataudi cross-checked with Ghulam Ahmed, who was on the selection panel, because he felt that I had the potential. That was a great compliment. I bowled about 6-7 overs and got only one wicket when my captain Nari Contractor caught Geoff Millman at backward short leg. But I played a very useful knock, scoring 17 runs. [Audio]

On his selection for the West Indies tour in the teeth of family opposition

On the fourth day of the Test there was a big event in MA Chidambaram's house (then BCCI president) where the Indian team was announced to tour West Indies. It came as a shock when I was selected because I was doing my engineering and I knew with the background I came from that education was a top priority. I did put up a big smile at the party but inside I was shaken up. When I came back my father was very angry. He knew the importance of education and he wouldn't talk to me. Chinnaswamy (then BCCI secretary) knew my father's reluctance to allow me to tour West Indies. Being the first Mysorean to play for India in the truest possible sense other than PE Palia (who was not a native Mysorean) it was a pride for us. Somewhere along the line Chinnaswamy saw that it reached the ears of Chamarajendra Wodeyar, ruler of the state, and used him to convince my father. Being a public servant himself, he had to accept the directives. [Audio]

On the impression he made on West Indies skipper Frank Worrell

Ghulam Ahmed was the manager and he really looked after me very well. I owe a lot to him and miss him now because his guidance was immense. I was a novice and never looked like a cricketer at that point of time because I didn't have any sophisticated gear. He made me look like a cricketer. The first thing he did when we landed in London was to take me out and equip me and out of my pocket allowance I had to spend 90 per cent of my money. I played a few tour games before the first Test but my big chance came when I was asked to play at Kingston (in the second Test). I picked up three wickets - Kanhai, McMorris and Rodriguez. I remember that day because I could bowl at Gary Sobers and Sir Frank Worrell and without my intention - whether my bowling was that good or he was kind to me as a youngster I do not know - I had Sobers under control. He was dropped a couple of times and at the end of the day, he was not out with 60 odd. He congratulated me that I bowled exceedingly well. The next morning, he hammered me which I accepted! That tour was an education for me. [Audio]

On the five years he spent in oblivion

Unfortunately I had to give my word to my father before I left for West Indies that I'll do my engineering because in those days we played for love of the game, there was not much of monetary gain. To my bad luck I lost him, so I had to keep up my word to him whether he was there or not. That's where I missed five years of my precious time. Had this misfortune not assimilated on me at that particular moment, I would have made a big, big stride because I was really bowling well and my confidence level had gone up so much. I had a setback in my cricketing career as well as a setback in my lifestyle because I was the only earning member. I was in oblivion for five years, so to say, and after completing my engineering, got a job for 300 odd rupees which I accepted because of my economic conditions. But I'm grateful to my organisation, ITI which supported me well in my comeback trail. I was always among the wickets in the Ranji Trophy and I played a tour game against West Indies in Bangalore in 1966/67 and picked up eight wickets in an innings which brought me back in the limelight. In the third Test I took five wickets, we should have won that match but somehow they drew it. From there I went on the English tour where many people felt I had a very moderate success. But I did bowl well in the first two Tests where I should have been rewarded at least 2-3 wickets but I was gaining in experience. In the third Test at Edgbaston on a good wicket, I picked seven wickets and I was the Horlicks man. In those days they used to give Horlicks awards and I was given the Best Bowler prize. [Audio]

On his sensational show in the twin tours to Australia and New Zealand in 1967/68

I was picked for the Australia and New Zealand tours and I came back with 49 wickets in eight Tests which not many have done on overseas soil. They followed us to India, so we played 16 Tests back to back, so to say and I picked up another 46 wickets in India. Ninety five wickets in 16 Tests, I think is not a bad performance. I think that was something remarkable. I'm very proud of it that I could do something for India. [Audio]

On the injury he sustained in the second Test in West Indies in 1970/71

I was not actually injured, no. I took four wickets in the Jamaica Test and we forced the West Indies to follow on for the first time ever. The West Indies press had given no chance to us but we followed it up with a win in the second Test. There was no injury at all as far as I can think of but anyway it happened. I always believe that no one is indispensable, so I was dispensed with. [Audio]

EAS Prasanna: [Part II]

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