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Heroes From The Past : Subhash Gupte

Subash Gupte
Picture Source: Twitter

On 7th February 1999. A leg spinner named Anil Kumble had taken 10 wickets in an innings against Pakistan at the famous Kotla. But least we know that if Naren Tamhane wouldn’t have missed the stumping opportunity, Subhash Gupte would have been the first Indian bowler to take 10 wickets in an innings.

EARLY DAYS

Subhash Gupte was born in a Marathi family on 11th December 1929. Gupte as a young boy was extremely attracted to Cricket. He developed a liking for the sport and went on to be a leg-break bowler.

Gupte developed a different variety of leg-spin bowling which held the ground and spun sharply and the other delivery was the flighted one.

Subhash Gupte made his domestic debut for Bombay in the 1948/49 season when he was only 19. He was tipped to be the successor of Vinoo Mankad who was India’s prime leg-spinner.

Also Read: “The little master who stood tall” – 50 years of Sunil Gavaskar

DEBUT AND EARLY DAYS AS INDIAN CRICKETER

Subhash Gupte made his debut against England in 1951 at Calcutta. He made his debut along with Vijay Manjarekar and RV Divecha. Shubhash Gupte didn’t have a very good outing as he went wicketless and was out first ball.

But, this was just a start of an illustrious career. As many of his peers and future cricketers would see him as an idol, who changed people’s perception to spin bowling. Gupte’s strength was to bowl flighted deliveries and still not go for runs, because of his command and understanding of the dynamics of the field.

The breakthrough season for Gupte was 1954-55 when he returned with a figure of 10/78 against Pakistan Combined Services while playing for Bombay.

HIS LOVE AFFAIR WITH WEST INDIES (1952/53 and 1958/59 series)

In 1953/54, the Windies had their 3W’ Weekes, Worrell, and Walcott. Knowing the dimensions of the ground and their form. Subhash Gupte wasn’t afraid to keep an aggressive field. He was in prime touch in that series and took 27 wickets in the series against the mighty Windies.

But then came the series in 1958/59, when West Indies toured India for a Test series. During the match at Kanpur, Gupte took 9 wickets in the first innings. Missing out on the 10th wicket as Naren Tamhane dropped an easy catch of Lance Gibbs.

Legend says that even after retirement both Tamhane and Gupte used to pull legs about the dropped catch of Lance Gibbs.

AG Kripal Singh and Controversy which ended Gupte’s career

In 1961, India was playing England at home and during the test at Delhi, a controversy arose, which ended a great career. The Indian team were staying at the Imperial Hotel, AG Kripal Singh and Subhash Gupte were room-mates. During the stay, the receptionist complained about a certain wrong behavior from the players about calling her in the room and dancing.

The then captain Nari Contractor had defended Subhash Gupte saying that he was in his room and they were playing a game of cards. AG Kripal Singh had bailed himself out of this controversy saying he had nothing to do.

Subhash Gupte who was a married man felt really saddened and shifted to Trinidad and never played again.

Last Days

After playing for India he played a little county cricket for Lancaster and later played for Trinidad before announcing his retirement.

He left the world in 2002, Subhash Gupte was a true inspiration to the next generation of bowlers and especially the spin quartet which was going to come soon after his retirement.

Gupte’s legacy and contribution to Indian cricket should be talked about more often. If there was no Gupte there wouldn’t have been the spin quartet and likewise.

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