Pramila's intrinsic worth was under utilised

Published: Monday, November 6, 2000, 18:23 [IST]
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That every man/ woman is the maker of his/ her own fortune may be a widely accepted notion. But the wheel of fortune turns round incessantly and none can predict at whose door Dame Fortune will knock. When one analytically examines the talent of Pramila Bhat, former captain of India, the returns appear highly disproportionate. Which again adds substance to the contention that human life, in many cases, is more governed by fortune than reason or logic.

More often than not, we come across players who excel in every department of the game but big success eludes them. For a player of Pramila Bhat's class, it comes as a surprise that she could not translate that abundant talent and hard work into the type of success that she should have achieved. If ability alone was the criteria, Pramila was undoubtedly the best off-spinner India have produced even though her contemporary Purnima Rau was more successful than her in terms of wickets captured.

A popular saying goes this way, "There are three types of lies - lies, damnable lies and statistics". (Women's Cricket Association of India (WCAI) can make this their motto as no statistics are maintained till date!). But then statistics, whatever pleasure it may give the individual concerned, is no substitute for judgement. And Pramila Bhat, who virtually grew up in cricket playing along side me for Karnataka, may not have statistics that indicate her true and intrinsic worth to any team she played for.

Just to set the record straight, Pramila was highly successful playing for Karnataka, Air India and India and she went on to lead all these teams with gusto and success. But having watched her play from close quarters, I always felt she never had the luck to reap the richer harvest she justly deserved.

Pramila caught the attention of the selectors by taking a lot of wickets for Karnataka. While many bowlers tend to take wickets against ordinary opposition, Pramila always appeared to reserve her best for the toughest opposition. While representing Karnataka, she always got a bundle of wickets against the formidable Indian Railways team.

When the Indian team to tour Australia in the 1991 disastrous tour was announced, Pramila was one of the automatic choices. But for a player of her calibre, she got a very raw deal and was not utilised at all. In the only Test she played, which was at Sydney, she was under bowled and not handled well.

Pramila was one of the best off-spinners who could make the batsmen dance with her teasing flight and big turners. She had a good faster one and her leg cutters were mixed well, which paid rich dividends to her. She was a superb athlete and ranks among the finest fielders India have ever produced. But what was not that well known was her ability to bat well. If she set her mind on it, she was capable of excellent batting.

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