Few sportsmen retain their halo long past their retirement, when the crowd parts out of sheer respect and the shy hero offers a gentle smile. G. R. Viswanath belongs to this rare club, and the love he garners from his fans hasn’t diminished one bit even though he last played for India in 1983. Such is the charm of this diminutive great, who blended batting greatness with disarming humility.
Gundappa Renganath Viswanath, whose career statistics may pale in front of a few but whose impact was second to none, was conferred the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2021 Sportstar ACES Awards.
“At the outset, I would like to thank Sportstar magazine and The Hindu Group for this honour. To receive a recognition of this nature at this stage of my life is an unexpected and very pleasant surprise,” said the legend on receiving the honour. “I have fond memories of playing at Chepauk and of looking forward to seeing my photographs in The Hindu the following morning and in Sportstar when the magazine came out. Sportstar became unanimous with very good writing and top-quality pictures, and I am glad to see they have maintained their standards for more than 40 years now. My thanks to the members of the jury, who found me worthy of the Lifetime Achievement Award.”
One of cricket’s last few gentlemen, Vishy, as he was known to his legion of admirers, scored 6,080 runs with 14 centuries in 91 Tests, but his bigger contribution was that India never lost a Test when he scored a ton. When pointed out, he would laugh and ask: “Was there any other way to play the game?”
The 2021 edition of the Sportstar ACES Awards honoured the Giants of the Decade in Indian sport, with the winners being assessing on their performance and consistency from 2011 to 2020. Eleven awards were presented under the popular choice category, which was open to public voting, along with 14 jury awards as well as special recognition awards under two new categories – Sports for Good and Giants off the Field – that recognise the work of organisations and individuals who have used sports for the betterment of society.