Erapalli Prasanna :: Biography

Erapalli Anantharao Srinivas Prasanna, usually known as Erapalli Prasanna is a former Indian off-spinner and a right-handed batsman. Prasanna liked to out wit the batsmen by showing his complete mastery over the flight and had many a trick up his sleeves which would leave the opposition batsmen mesmerized. He along with Srinivas Venkataraghavan, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar and Bishen Singh Bedi formed the famed spin quartet of the 70’s taking 853 wickets between them over a span of 231 test matches.

He was one of the most difficult off-spin bowlers to play even at good pitches, and was considered to be a cricket player with the prowess of a chess grandmaster, owing to his mysteriously deceptive bowling.

Prasanna was born on the 22nd of May 1940 at Bangalore, Karnataka. He is one of the few players to have played the entire test cricket, first-class cricket and the list-A cricket matches during his cricket career. He twice led Karnataka to the Ranji Trophy, the first time ending Bombay's 15-year reign.

Pras, as he was affectionately called bounced up to the wicket and got very side-on while bowling. He was short and tended to toss the ball up, and spun it so hard it hummed. Unlike the majority of spinners, he would entice a batsman forward with tantalizing flight or force one back and often got a batsman trapped on the crease. Pras didn’t have a great change of pace but broke the rhythm of the batsmen better than any spinner especially with that quicker ball, which perplexed the best players of spin bowling in his era.

Prasanna made his debut at Madras in the year 1961 against England at an age of 21. His first overseas tour to the West Indies was a tough one and he did not play another Test for five years. He left the sport for a period to finish his engineering degree, graduating from the National Institute of Engineering and returned in 1967. He gained a regular place in the side following his excellent performances in England in 1967. 

He didn’t take much time to grab attention and in his 3rd Test match against West Indies at Chennai in 1967 he took 5 wickets and gave away 224 runs in the match, scoring 25 runs.

In fact, Madras was his favourite hunting ground. The crowd adored him, and he responded with glittering displays of his guile and craft. India was 1-2 down in the 1974-75 home series against the West Indies, when Prasanna scalped nine in the fourth Test at Chepauk to level the scores.

His dismissal of Ian Chappell during his first tour to Australia in 1976 was a memorable occasion which made Ian Chappell call Prasanna the finest player he ever faced. Ian Chappell, generally regarded as one of the best players of spin got on top of Prasanna as soon as he came onto bat but Prasanna’s guile had him caught at short mid-on.

Prasanna indeed was the quintessentially aggressive spinner, who would flight the ball even more if the batsmen were dancing out to him and more often than not deceived them. With the ball, he loved calling the shots, was seldom intimidated by reputations.

Even defensive players were often sold the dummy. Ken Barrington, who could frustrate the best of spinners with an iron-clad defence and endless patience, was in ominous form during the tour of the sub-continent with Ted Dexter's side. Prasanna managed to fox the tenacious Englishman and got acclaimed for his deft use of mind and skill.

Prasanna was famous for spinning the ball in a looping fashion, often leading the batsman to hit the ball up in the air. He also used to bounce the ball quite high, and used to calmly lure the batsman to commit a mistake for long overs.

In cricket, it is well known that behind every successful spinner there is a wicket-keeper. Prasanna and Syed Kirmani formed quite a great pair and stumpings were a common sight when Prasanna operated.

Following a tour to Pakistan in the year 1978 after which Bishan Singh Bedi and Bhagwat Chandrasekhar also left the team, Prasanna declared his retirement from playing cricket. In his last Test match that he played against Pakistan on 27th of October 1978, he took no wicket giving away 94 runs. Prasanna has written an autobiography titled One More Over. He was conferred upon with the Padma Shri Award in the year 1970 and the Castrol Lifetime Achievement Award in the year 2006.


Abhishek De