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Former State cricketer, curator Kasturirangan no more

Last Updated : 19 August 2020, 18:21 IST
Last Updated : 19 August 2020, 18:21 IST
Last Updated : 19 August 2020, 18:21 IST
Last Updated : 19 August 2020, 18:21 IST

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G Kasturirangan 
G Kasturirangan 
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Former Karnataka (then Mysore) cricketer Gopalaswamy Kasturirangan, who breathed his last here at his Chamarajpet house following a heart attack, wore many hats. A fast bowler who almost played for India, he was known as a caring captain, a mentor to many young aspirants, probably the first professional curator that India saw and an administrator.

Kasturirangan, who was 89, could have played for India had he, along with three other South Zone players, not withdrawn from the 1952 tour of West Indies. Along with his Karnataka team-mate L Adishesh, Hyderabad’s Ghulam Ahmed and Tamil Nadu batsman C D Gopinath, he pulled out of the tour, fearing the dominance of West Zone players in the Indian team.

Speaking to DH in an interview in 2016 when Adishesh succumbed to cancer in Liverpool, Kasturirangan had said: “Myself, Adishesh, Ghulam Ahmed and CD Gopinath were the four players to be picked from South for the tour. But the dominance of West Zone players was huge in the team then and we didn’t feel comfortable with it at that point in time. All four of us (from South) decided to pull out of the tour.”

An irate Karnataka State Cricket Association reportedly wrote to the BCCI asking it not to pick Kasturirangan and Adishesh for any future national selection trials, stating that they had failed to inform the association of their decision to withdraw. That was the end of the India dream for Kasturirangan while Adishesh moved to England after accepting an offer to play in Lancashire League.

After his not-so-insignificant 14-year long playing career, during which he claimed 94 wickets in 36 first-class matches at an average of 22.02, Kasturirangan, son of a renowned horticulturist, made more name for himself as a curator. When the new stadium was built, M Chinnaswamy, after whom it was named later, roped him to get the pitches and outfield done.

He served as the head of the BCCI Grounds and Pitches committee which was entrusted with the task of creating competitive surfaces in India. Having taken charge in 1997, after replacing Kapil Dev who held the post for a brief period, he quit the post in 2003 due to BCCI’s “indifference” to his suggestions.

“I feel very sad about his demise. He was my mentor, my guru, my first captain, team-mate and a project mate,” off-spinning great EAS Prasanna told DH. “By project mate, I mean we helped build a cricket stadium in Puttaparthi with the blessings of Shri Sai Baba. I had a long long association with him. Last time when I spoke to him was on my birthday, on May 22. That time he said he was perfectly alright but unfortunate that he passed away.”

Prasanna, arguably the finest off-spinner ever to have played the game, gave major credit to Kasturirangan for all the success he enjoyed.

“For what I have achieved, I owe a lot to Kastrurirangan because he was the one who inducted me into the Ranji Trophy team under his captaincy, against Hyderabad. It was a very bold move because he had five youngsters in his team and still we won despite players like (ML) Jaisimha in their side. He was a very magnanimous person, generous and helpful. He was a versatile and gifted man. My prayers are with his family and I pray my friend and philosopher rests in peace.”

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Published 19 August 2020, 18:18 IST

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