CV remains pretty much the same smiling, academic and sporty friend we played with more than twenty years ago, which comes as a pleasant surprise since he is burdened with his heavy duty work as a senior Police Officer in the AP state cadre. His laugh retains its child-like quality, his eyes twinkle when he speaks, his voice is full of enthusiasm when he speaks about things he is doing and he still retains a quality where his voice enquires even from a layman, his opinion on things. It must have been tough to retain this side to him after all that he has experienced in his life, after knowing the seemingly limitless power that senior police officers wield, but knowing CV, he must have been true to his self all the time, believing that this is the only way he can be. And he does not mind being that with us, his old friends from those cricketing days, whenever we bother him with our petty requests. As I did for an interview the other day!
|CV, at his desk|
Among few cricketers I recollect from the newspapers even before I met them are CV and Surendra, both from HPS, Begumpet, who were a few years junior to us, but who played extremely well against Wesley in an Inter school tournament final. I remember seeing CVs photograph in the paper having scored a hundred, looking much as he looks these days, and that of Surendra who took five wickets for his team. Unfortunately HPS Begumpet lost that final despite their heroics. School cricket and college cricket always draws you into its romance, because we see character being shaped in boys in those matches, and I wondered how these two boys must have felt after battling so hard for their team.
‘We cried for a long time in the dressing room,’ said CV, without batting an eyelid. ‘We had promised our Principal that we would win the trophy and we dominated Wesley for most of the match and lost it in one session when Sadanand took it away. It was heartbreaking and we were inconsolable for almost a week. I can never forget that.’ And that’s CV for you, passionate, courageous and completely involved in a cause bigger than himself. Now the ACP, Traffic, an IPS officer of a formidable repute, he smiles, at those memories, the pain of the loss still evident in his eyes.
I met CV only much later after that classic match and from the first meeting, was always impressed with him. He always dressed immaculately, was well mannered and a very pleasant young man to chat with, especially on subjects most cricketers do not normally talk. He was intelligent and had big dreams, was a combative cricketer who knew his role in the team and performed fully and many times beyond what was expected of him. He was full of questions and we discussed everything from economics to GRE, cricket to our futures. I remember a time when we were both playing for MCC, Vivek Jaisimha, our captain, butted into a conversation we were having about the diminishing law of returns (I remember that clearly), shook his head in complete disbelief and said, ‘Stop it guys. Do this someplace else.’ Economics and cricket dressing rooms!
I was past my serious playing days then, a Ranji veteran already at 21, doing my MBA. It was a match against Nizam College and after getting clobbered by Nizam for 283 in a day, when Vivek asked me to open, I took my revenge with a 36 ball hundred and in 20 overs. MCC was 180 for 1 at end of day, I was 102 not out. After all the mandatory ‘well played Harrys’ I bumped into CV who smiled and said - ‘Not your best knock’. And despite being pleased with the hurricane nature of the innings, I knew that he spoke the truth. It was easy to praise in that moment but it was equally important to tell the truth.
But this is jumping the gun. I remember him more as the studious young lad who came on the Inter University trip to Bangalore where he scored heavily and very stylishly against some really good bowling sides playing in our start studded middle order. He was playing extremely well against Madras University in the semi final, then with Robin Singh as it spearhead, when a short ball by Robin felled him, when CV was past his fifty. CV did not play in that game again, sustaining a serious injury on his head, and we lost the match as well, but he left an impression on all of us as a very competent and courageous batsman who made batting look very easy. I remember DTS Prasad, our captain that year, going into raptures at CVs batting several times.
|An overdue reunion|
The next year CV came to Madras on the Inter varsity trip with a GRE book, smiling, saying he would read when he had the time. I was the captain then, in a side that contained D. Suresh, Masood, Iftekhar, Vidyuth, Subba Rao, Siraj Benjamin, Ranga Raj, Yuvraj, Asad and others. We easily beat Mysore University, with Javagal Srinath, (then a young lad still in his first year of Engineering and his classic penetrative inswinger that always accounted for Masood), and then lost a close match against Bangalore University in the semi final. This was a match we almost won, but thanks to a couple of dubious decisions we lost. Osmania University was 248 or something and Bangalore limped past with 9 down, aided by some bad umpiring decisions. A crucial decision of caught behind was not given by the umpire with another fifteen runs to go and two wickets in hand – and me and CV were really into our rhythm in that spell. CV and I opened the second new ball, I had seen him swing it out effortlessly at nets and preferred him over Siraj for the second new ball, and we got four wickets between us with the second ball in just under 30 runs. One of the few good inspired moments of captaincy in my life!
That glaringly bad decision brought out completely different reactions from some of the most gentlemanly cricketers I have met – Suersh wanted to walk out and so did Vidyuth who gave the umpire an earful, but CV it was it turned out, who kicked the stumps over at the bowling end in fury. It was a long time before we pacified everyone and got on with the game and lost. CV obviously remembers that game - 'My captain,' he said to Prasad and the team when we went to interview him, inviting us all in warmly.I feel the same affection for him, and respect for all that he has achieved, something that we share from those days of innocence, days when we were trying to shape our character through the games we played.
When CV was dropped the next year due to biased selection processes, it irked me no end. I was in my first year MBA and my cricket being behind me, had nothing to lose. I told the Director of Physical Education Ranga Rao who was as much the culprit as the selectors, that such a bad selection was not acceptable to me and I would not play. It was only when Prof. Shamraj intervened on the last evening and said that he would personally see to it that the team was reselected after this game that I agreed. But we lost that first game, and as always, too little was done too late. I felt really bad for CV especially, who if he had not been injured against Robin a couple of years ago, would have played Vizzy for South Zone Universities, and now losing his place to bad selection was simply not acceptable. I wish I had done more but I really did not know what to do other than refuse to play. There was some press about unhappy seniors and selection issues but nothing came of it.
Soon after, CV gave up cricket and joined the University to do his MA in Economics. Shobha and I would bump into him and Lalitha, who has now become his wife, at the Arts College canteen. I heard that he became an IPS officer and I saw little of him for about twenty years after. When I saw him next it was at Masood’s wedding more than a decade later, and he was looking as fit as ever, smiling and laughing. I had followed his exploits as a young and courageous SP in districts such as Warangal, Adilabad and Nizamabad where he turned the tide with his men in several daring raids on extremists.
‘Cricket has taught me to take the win with the loss equally well,’ he said. ‘I would never have known how to motivate a team of men, in highly adverse conditions, battling against extremists in those days, if not for my cricketing days. I can see the difference between officers who have played – for example I always lead my men in the field – be it on extremist raids or regulating traffic pouring rain. If you do not do that you cannot command the same respect from your people. It teaches you leadership, team work, people management and so much more.’
Today CVs son Milind is a very promising prospect for Hyderabad an India. He went to the India Under 16 camp which is no mean achievement and he performs with great character with the bat, saving Hyderabad on a few occasion already in his fledgling career. CV himself is very active, playing tennis and cricket, and playing the best cricket of his life. This season he has two hundreds in three matches in the league for Secunderabad Club CC– 121 and 132 which speaks volumes of how fit and how classy a player he is. The day I met him he showed me bruises on his elbows that he carried from a fall on the basket ball court. And he never leaves his office before 10 p.m. he says, monitoring traffic on the computer.
‘I got all the traffic personnel rain coats and gum boots,’ he said. ‘How else will they be able to monitor traffic in rain? We got about 3000 pairs issued. Now everyone is on duty even in rain.’ So they are. And CV, continues going on passionately, rain or shine, with that smile on his face and passion and courage in his heart. Good going CV, and may you bat really long on the field and off it.