Indian batsmen have invariably struggled against a quality pace attack. Getting complements from one of the all-time greatest pacers is something that Indian batsmen might cherish all their lives, and same is the case with Gundappa Viswanath. Viswanath, in a recent interview, revealed that Dennis Lillee had once praised him, saying he found Viswanath superior to Sunil Gavaskar.
‘Was once scared of West Indies pacer’
When asked if he was afraid of fast bowlers, Viswanath told The Times of India, “Not afraid, but I got scared once. On the ’71 tour, (Vanburn) Holder was pretty quick that time, upcoming paceman. We played a four-day game against Barbados. Overnight, I was 14 not out. One ball which he dug in short, I went to play back. I thought it would go over my head, but it skidded on. There was no helmet and luckily I saw it at the last minute and went down, I touched the ground with both my hands. It was the last ball of the over. (Gary) Sobers walked past me and said `Almost Nari’. At first I didn’t get what he said. Then I realized he was talking about Nari Contractor, that incident of him getting hit.”
Nari Contractor was hit by a bouncer as he had tried to play a similar shot while leading India. As a result, he sustained fatal injuries and had to be hospitalised. Though his physical conditions recovered, he never made a comeback to the national side after the incident.
‘Lillee called me little giant man’
“That night I felt I was lucky. I didn’t get hit. More than scared, I didn’t want to get hurt. Jeff Thomson bowled one spell 1977-78, the quickest I have faced. That evening, (Bob) Simpson was in the same lift and he asked me, `How did you manage that? I kept two fielders there (shortleg and silly-point) and Thommo got all the Pommies there -out of 40 wickets, he got 28 caught there. But you are dropping it down, beautiful. What control!’ I said, thank you. That sort of makes you feel good. You enjoy hearing those things – Dennis Lillee once called me, ‘little giant man’ and said, ‘ I like your brother-in-law (Sunil Gavaskar), but I like you much more. You are made of steel.’ These kind of compliments stay with you. Make you feel, thank God I played and I’m still alive.”
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