WV Raman © Getty Images
WV Raman © Getty Images

Woorkeri Venkat ‘WV’ Raman, born May 23, 1965, was an Indian Test cricketer whose international career never fully took off, although there was no denying his prowess with the bat. After hanging up his boots, he has been contributing immensely to the game as a coach and a columnist. Karthik Parimal looks back at the brief career of the talented southpaw.

It was in the January of 1988, in the fourth Test of the series against West Indies at home, that this southpaw graced the international stage for the first time. Coming in for the injured Dilip Vengsarkar, WV Raman showed tremendous adeptness in the second innings of that Test, scoring a flawless 83 against the tearaway pace of Patrick Patterson, Winston Davis, and the suave Courtney Walsh. However, another debutant by the name of Narendra Hirwani stole the limelight, grabbing 16 wickets against a line-up featuring celebrated names. Thereafter, Raman was picked on a sporadic basis.

He got close to the coveted three-figure mark on just two more counts in his short career, spanning 11 Tests — 96 (at Christchurch) and 72* (Auckland) against New Zealand in 1990. Sadly, that century remained elusive in the longer format. But against South Africa at Centurion, in the first ODI of the five-match series, came his finest few hours. He smashed 114, in the process becoming the first Indian to score a ODI hundred against South Africa. Nonetheless, even in this version, he was soon discarded in favour of budding talent. It was to be his only knock of hundred on the big circuit.

Stagnancy in international cricket had no bearings in the domestic arena. He plundered runs at will and, in 1988-89, surpassed a long-standing record for most runs in a season. Scoring 313 for his state Tamil Nadu, against Goa, before collecting two more double-centuries, he amassed 1018 runs at an incredible average of 145.42 that year. To replicate such performances while donning the national colours proved to be arduous. In 132 First-Class games, he averaged over 45, whereas the figure recorded in Tests and ODIs were 25 and 24 respectively. After almost nine years of scampering in and out of the side, he called it quits in 1997.

Raman made it clear that his decision was because of lack of motivation and also since he wasn’t deriving the same amount of enjoyment like before. “Even though there is still a bit of cricket left in me, I do not want to be an obstacle for the youngsters. I enjoyed every minute of my playing days and as such there are no regrets. As one who always saw the positive side of things, I consider it a privilege to have played with and against some great cricketers,” he stated.

His love for the game was quite apparent. It is what brought him back close to the fray. He went to Australia to participate in an advanced coaching programme that was offered only to Test cricketers. Upon returning, he coached domestic teams like Tamil Nadu and Bengal with considerable success. Under Raman, the India Under-19 team’s performance in South Africa came to the forefront, as his troop beat the hosts, and Bangladesh, to win the tri-nation series. In 2009, alongside Michael Bevan and Dermot Reeve, he was one of the frontrunners to coach the IPL franchise Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) too.

His cricketing acumen is also visible in the columns he writes for some of the leading media houses. He also bagged the role of Assistant Coach with Kings XI Punjab in this edition of the IPL.

Whether, as a player, he deserved more time under the sun could be a matter of debate, but, unlike many from his stream who mouth the cliché, Raman has certainly contributed substantially to the development of the game. If only he could have cashed in on the opportunities like a few of his fellow teammates.

(Karthik Parimal, a Correspondent with CricketCountry, is a cricket aficionado and a worshipper of the game. He idolises Steve Waugh and can give up anything, absolutely anything, just to watch a Kumar Sangakkara cover drive. He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/karthik_parimal )