BENGALURU: Anil Kumble and Bishen Singh Bedi may have gained prominence among Indian spinners, but traces of spin bowling date back to 20th century. Wizards: The Story of Indian Spin Bowling, authored by Anindya Dutta, documents the figures of Indian spin, diving into its history spanning a century.
The book, released last month, took 18 months of research, Dutta tells CE during a visit to Bengaluru. “It talks about spinners like Palwankar Baloo from the 19th century, to current ones like Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal,” says the Singapore-based banker. The contributions of Baloo, who was a dalit, have been specially highlighted. “Baloo was a groundsman at European Club in Pune. He started bowling to the British-India team’s captain, who then doubled his salary and got him on board. He played for two decades, and his records in the Bombay Triangular in England in 1911 have not been surpassed by any Indian spinner till date,” Dutta says. Baloo spoke against untouchability, joined politics, and contested the Mumbai municipal elections against Dr B R Ambedkar, which he lost.
The book, brought out by Westland Publications, also features the next line of spinners like Vinu Mankad, Ghulam Ahmed and Salim Durani. “It discusses how Tiger Pataudi came up with the spin quartet since pace bowlers could not make an impact. For 17 years, no spinner besides Bishen Singh, Prasanna, B S Chandrasekhar and Venkatraghavan featured in Indian test cricket,” says Dutta, a cricket and history enthusiast, who has spent over two decades working in financial markets.
Dutta’s first book, A Gentleman’s Game, a collection of his writings from cricket history, was released in 2017. This was followed by Spell Binding Spells, on the greatest bowling spells in cricket, in 2017. His third book, We are the Invincibles, delves into the England tour of Bradman’s 1948 team.
Ask him about the spinner who impressed him the most, and Dutta mentions Subash Gupte. “Gary Sobers called him the greatest leg spinner in any country. He said his variations made it tough for batsmen to play his deliveries, and that Gupte might not have taken many test wickets but he took some very good ones,” Dutt says, adding, “Sobers believed Gupte was better than Shane Warne.”