GR Sunderam and Pradeep Sunderam - remembering the father-son fast bowling duo
Pradeep Sunderam has a very rare distinction to his credit - capturing all the ten wickets in an innings in Ranji trophy. He emulated Premangsu Chatterjee of West Bengal in doing so. Chatterjee’s feat was against Assam in the 1956-57 season.
Sunderam was a fast bowler who played for Rajasthan from 1982 to 1991. His father, GR Sunderam was born in Udupi in Karnataka and played for Mumbai and worked for BEST (Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking) initially. Manohar Gavaskar ( Sunil Gavaskar’s father) and Madhav Mantri were few of his contemporaries.
Later on, the senior Sunderam shifted to Rajasthan and was the spearhead of Rajasthan fast bowling. During his stint there, Rajasthan met Mumbai 6 times in Ranji Trophy finals and lost all six!
GR Sunderam also had a knack for grooming youngsters. Balwinder Singh Sandhu (known as the Banana Swing Bowler and whose famous inswinger dismissed Gordon Greenidge in the 1983 World Cup final) and Lalchand Rajput (currently known for his coaching skills - especially for stints with few of the minnows) were few of the beneficiaries.
GR Sunderam also played two Tests for India. He could not continue for long as few others who had better skills in batting too were preferred over him. He also had a docile pitch to deal with in his debut against New Zealand at Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi - incidentally, it was Babu Nadkarni's debut too.
Pradeep too became a fast bowler and his most notable achievement would be his ten wicket haul in an innings against Vidarbha in the 1985-86 season. His figures of 10-78 in the first innings was followed by 6-76 in the second innings. The match figures, a record then have been bettered by only Anil Kumble subsequently. It is interesting to note that GR Sunderam took all the ten wickets once in an inter-school tournament.
Pradeep Sunderam took up coaching and worked closely with Mumbai and Rajastan. He also focuses on the need to bowl for long in the nets to sustain pace and develop the ability to bowl long spells. He was part of the MCA team which in quest of genuinely quick fast bowlers, organised a camp which allowed bowlers to use tennis balls. He also insisted that if a bowler has pace, his other aspects could be worked on and corrected if needed.
GR Sunderam was an athlete and known for leading a disciplined life and was a role model for many. He was a staunch campaigner for upholding the spirit of the game. He emphasized the importance of physical fitness as he himself had some back problems and lost close to 5 years of cricket. He passed away in 2010 in Mumbai while Pradeep continues his coaching journey.