Cricket was all he wanted - Remembering 'VB' Chandrasekhar through friends and teammates

Besides being an accomplished cricketer, V. B. Chandrasekhar was a fun-loving team-mate, an avid reader and a movie enthusiast.

File Photo: V. B. Chandrasekhar in action during the Duleep Trophy South Zone and Central Zone at Gymkhana Cricket Ground, Secunderabad on January 05, 1990.   -  The Hindu Archives

The image lingers. V. B. Chandrasekhar following Tamil Nadu's first division matches in early 2000 from the old pavilion of the Guru Nanak College ground.

The view from the window on the right side of the hall was brilliant; VB would pick his spot. And then, humour and wit, from him and the former TNCA joint secretary Dr. G. Natarajan, would be served along with tea and snacks.

Indeed, the laughter never stopped even as some key cricketing points were driven home. And tales from the past, with some spice added to them, would be brought back to life.

That was a period when VB was a retired cricketer. He was not holding any official position either, yet would turn up without fail for the first division games.

“He did not know anything else. Cricket was all he wanted,” Dr. Natarajan, who shared a close bond with VB, told Sportstar on Friday.

Yes, cricket was oxygen for VB. He also had other interests. The former Indian opener was a voracious reader and followed movies.

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Once he desperately sought the celebrated movie, The Insider, could not find the DVD, and was delighted when yours truly fetched it for him.

Not many knew VB could sing well, and render a few Hindi songs. He was a huge fan of  Mohammed Rafi and, in his home, you can spot old vinyl records of the legend with a silken voice.

M. Senthilnathan, VB’s room-mate during some Ranji Trophy games, said, “Once we decided to go to Thalapathi, the movie. We went in VB’s old Mercedes Benz, which had been there from his father’s time. VB was passionate about that car.”

Senthil added, “Once we reached the theatre we only got tickets in the third row. So from Benz to third row in the cinema hall! We decided to join those watching near us. We pulled back our legs back to the seat and began whistling loudly. It was great fun.”

VB was a smart thinker. “He converted the car park in his house into nets. And he practised on concrete pitches at home. It was something novel to us in those days,” said Senthil.

The two, from Coimbatore and Udamalpet, neighbouring cities, mock-fought on the ground and enjoyed the evenings, played for the Brijesh Patel-led Venkateshwara Paper Board team, which also featured Robin Singh and U.R. Radhakrishnan among others.

Senthil said, “While Patel was impressed with VB’s stroke-making ability, he always told him, ‘you also need to bat sensibly and build an innings'."

VB was a proud man, who stood his ground and never compromised. He could also make others laugh. That’s a rare combination. But then, VB was one of a kind.