Srinavasan Venkataraghavan, the off spinner from Tamil Nadu, became
Venkat almost from the moment he entered the Test team in 1964-5, taking
six wickets against New Zealand in Calcutta. Even his Indian team-mates
baulked at his full multi-syllabic South Indian name, and Venkat he
stayed as player, Indian captain, and later one of the top Test umpires.
Only teammates at Derbyshire, where he played from 1973-5, demurred,
christening him 'Rent-a-Caravan.' Venkat would have had a fuller Test
career had he not been part of a quartet of great Indian spinners.
turning wickets in India could not demand more than three at a time, so
he would find periods when selectors preferred Chandra, or Bedi, or his
fellow off spinner Prasanna. Bedi, Chandra and Venkat played together
for the first time against West Indies at Calcutta in 1966-7. Probably
Venkat's greatest triumph was his 8-72 and 4-80 against New Zealand at
Delhi in 1964-5, but he also took 3-59 and 6-74 against New Zealand in
Nagpur in 1969-70, and 5-95 against West Indies at Trinidad in 1970-1,
when India won by 7 wickets.
In England in 1971 he took 13 wickets in
the three Tests at an average of 26.92. He took seven wickets against
Pakistan in Calcutta in 1978-9 and seven more in Madras. He was captain
in England in 1979, and in five Tests in all. He was also captain in the
first two World Cups, in 1975 and 1979, but failed to take a wicket in
the 72 overs he bowled in the competition. (Bob Harragan)