SUBHASH GUPTE, LEG SPINNER

 Memoirs on Squash Gupte

Subhaschandra Pandharinath Gupte was born in Bombay on this day December 11, 1929.

He left a legacy of  his art of leg spin bowling, a googly. His googlies were extremely deceptive and he was master of flight.

RETRO LIVE :

An Indian spin bowler taking 9 wickets in an Innings and that against a formidable West Indies team at Kanpur in 1958-59 series on DAY ONE of the Test. It was a creditable performance by the master of the craft of googly bowler, Subhash Gupte and though India lost the test, it was an occasion to remember Gupte as with his mesmerising googly, he ran through the entire team, including clean bowling of Rohan Kanhai.

EARLY DAYS

India’s ace leg spinner made his first class debut for the Maneck Engineer XI Vs Madhav Mantri’s XI in Bombay festival tournament in 1947-48 season and he took just 2 wickets in that match.  He played first class cricket for Bengal, Rajasthan apart from Bombay.  In England League cricket for Rishton.

TEST DEBUT 

He made his debut for India On Dec. 29, 1951 against the visiting England team along with Vijay Manjrekar.  He did not take any wicket in this test.  

Best moments

Subhash Gupte made his first away tour to West Indies in 1952-53.  In his first away tour itself he showed his prowess with the ball claiming 50 wickets in 8 first class  matches including 27 wickets in Test cricket.  It was a record at the time. Gupte was given the nickname of ‘ Fergie’ while on tour to the West Indies as he bowled like West Indian Leggie Wilfred Ferguson.

In the tour to Pakistan in 1954-55, he was the most successful bowler with 21 wickets, though the 5 match test series ended in a tame draw.

Then against touring Pakistan in 1954-55, he took 10 for 78 in Bombay in a game against 

Pakistan Combined Services and Bhawalpur XI team.  This was the first time an Indian bowler took all the 10 wickets in an Innings in a first class cricket.

In 1955-56 against touring New Zealnd, the Indian team made a heavy weather of batting exploits by scoring  400 + runs in all the tests including 537 runs at Chennai (Nehru stadium) where the record opening wicket partnership between Vinoo Mankad & Pankaj Roy was made. And Gupte had a rich haul of 34 wickets in the series, a record at the time.  He helped India inflict two Innings defeats to Newzeland at Bombay (Brabourne stadium) and Madras (Nehru stadium).

On tour to England in 1959, Gupte took a total of 95 wickets in 23 first class matches at an average of 26.58 which included 17 wickets in Tests.

He took 4 wickets conceding just 6 runs in 3 overs against the visiting England team in 1961-62 series at Kanpur to enforce follow-on for the first time for England, though England saved the test. 

In this England series during the Delhi Test he was suspended along with his roommate A.G. Kirpal Singh on disciplinary grounds for which he was not at fault.  His roommate A.G. Kirpal allegedly invited the Hotel receptionist for a drink and without any enquiry on Gupte.,The Indian cricket board destroyed Gupte’s Test career in one full swoop on disciplinary grounds for an alleged act of indiscipline.  A couple of years later Gupte emigrated to West Indies with his Carribean wife and spent the rest of his life there and passed away in 2002.

In a career spanning over a decade ( 1951-1961), he Gupte claimed 149 wickets in 36 tests, which is an unenviable record.

ENCOMIUMS

Former off-spinner Prasanna said: “He was the greatest leg-spinner India ever produced.” He said Gupte did not realise his full potential because fewer games were played in his time, adding: “He was the most orthodox, but the number of leg-spinners and top-spinners he had…it’s all about playing and realisation.”

B.S. Bedi, another indian legendary spinner remarked “ I was listening to radio commentary when Gupte took 9 wickets for 102 against west indies at Kanpur.  I was so inspired by that performance that I took up spin bowling.”

The game’s one of the greatest all rounder Sir Gary Sobers in his book rated Gupte above the legendary Leg spinner Shane Warne.  To me Shane Warne is a great turner of the ball.  But in my estimation Gupte was a better leg spinner.

After meeting Gupte in his home town in 2002  at Trinidad ( Caribbean Islands), noted author Rahul Bhattacharya wrote like this:

“Gupte moved to Trinidad 40 years ago on his wife’s persuasion as Frank Blakburn, a man who was mad at cricket offered him a job at Trinidad.  Gupte met Carol on the 1952-53 Indian tour to West Indies, where he spun his way to 50 first class wickets and he was the talk of the town.   Subhash saw Carol at an official function and fell in love with her and he proposed to her in a letter by post and it all worked out for the marriage “.

GUPTE’S OBSERVATION ON INDIANS

When asked about India’s third Test win at Port of Spain, the 73-year-old former leg-spinner Gupte  said, “It’s always nice to hear about an Indian victory. People respect Indian cricketers here. So, when they win, Indian cricket receives more respect. And personally I feel more proud. They respect me more too.”

Sunil Gavaskar still remains the greatest Indian batsman in his book. “India has never produced a better batsman than him.. Sunil has 13 centuries against the West Indies only. Tremendous achievement. And he was an intelligent cricketer. No, I can’t compare him with anyone else,” he said with an air of finality.

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