V. V. Kumar delighted with BCCI award

“I am delighted that the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) has thought it fit to nominate me. It’s a wonderful moment," said V. V. Kumar, who has scalped 599 first-class wickets.

V. V. Kumar played two Tests for India, picking seven wickets at 28.85. But Kumar had a staggering 599 scalps in first-class cricket.   -  V. Ganesan

At his best, he could do magic on the arena, with his turn and bounce, flight and drift. If the leg-spinning maestro could not beat the batsman in the air, he would do so off the pitch.

V. V. Kumar was a phenomenal bowler who, sadly, did not get his due at the international level.

So when nominated for a special BCCI award on Monday, his outstanding contribution to Indian cricket finally received some recognition.

READ: Goel, Shivalkar nominated for CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award

“I am delighted that the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) has thought it fit to nominate me. It’s a wonderful moment. I am also very happy that Padmakar Shivalkar and Rajinder Goel have been nominated for the C. K. Nayudu award. They deserve it for what they have done for Indian cricket,” the 81-year-old Kumar told Sportstar.

He played two Tests for India, picking seven wickets at 28.85. Kumar should have figured in more Tests.  

“I was so thrilled when told that I would be playing for India against Pakistan in Delhi in 1961. Pakistan had a formidable line-up.”

Kumar was up for the challenge, scalping five in the first innings and two in the second. “I remember getting Imitiaz Ahmed in the first innings, he did not pick the googly. Then, I had W. Mathias brilliantly taken by Nadkarni at short-leg. In the second innings, I dived to my left and pouched a return catch off Javed Burki. It was a great feeling.”

Kumar played his next Test against England in Bombay, the same year. “I was only 70 per cent fit and was forced into playing that match,” the leg-spinner said. He never played for India again.

For Tamil Nadu, he formed a formidable spin combination with S. Venkatraghavan. When the two bowled in tandem, matches often concluded early.

Kumar had plenty of variations. “I could send down the leg-spinner, the googly, the flipper and two types of top-spinners, one that landed on the seam and bounced and the other, cross seam, that pitched on the side and skidded through,” he said.

He  sliced through line-ups in domestic cricket, picking up 599 first class wickets at 19.98. “The emphasis was on control. We made the most of the fielders, bowled to the field. Those days we did not have a sweeper at cover or point. We did not set fields for bad balls.”

Recalling his feared partnership with Venkatraghavan, Kumar said, “There were times when we had cricketing arguments. But on the field we complemented each other. On days, I took wickets, he bowled tight and when he was among wickets, I kept one end up. He was a tremendous off-spinner.”

The award for Kumar could not have been more deserving. As a leg-spinner, he was up there with the very best.