S Venkataraghavan: A small tribute on his 75th Birthday.
Venkat is to date the only cricketer to have played and umpired in more than 50 Tests.
He captained the Indian cricket team at the first two cricket world cups. Later, he became an umpire on the elite International Cricket Council Test panel. His Test career was one of the longest for any Indian player. He also played for Derbyshire in English county cricket from 1973 to 1975. Venkataraghavan is a qualified engineer and an alumnus of Chennai’s famed College of Engineering, Guindy. He is a recipient of the civilian honor of Padma Shri.
An integral part of the famous spin quartet – also comprising Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, Erapalli Prasanna, and Bishan Singh Bedi – that ruled the world in the late 1960s and ’70s, off-spinner Venkat might have had the least impressive stats but still he made his presence felt in a very large way.
Venkat made his international umpiring debut in the One Day International between India and England at Jaipur on 18 January 1993. He made his Test umpiring debut in the same month, with the match between India and England at Kolkata.
After becoming an international umpire in 1992-93, Venkat officiated in 73 Tests and 52 ODIs, and was also a match referee at 5 tests and 8 ODIs. The highlights of his umpiring career include six Ashes Tests and appointments to three World Cups in 1996, 1999, and 2003. In both the 1996 and 1999 tournaments he was appointed to stand in a semi-final and was the third umpire of the 1999 World Cup final between Australia and Pakistan at Lord’s.
Always respected in the cricket fraternity, as an umpire, and as a person. He truly was the epitome of selflessness and team spirit. Cricket has forever been the gentlemen’s game. It’s because of men like Srinivas Venkataraghavan that it came to be called so.