There is no Sadagoppan Ramesh appreciation thread on Twitter.

So I decided to write one on his 45th birthday.

And since Ramesh is very personal, let me begin with a personal memory.
I was watching the Chennai Test in the common-room of the university hostel in Delhi.

It was a chilly afternoon, and classes ended early, just at the stroke of Pakistan getting bowled out for 238.

Now Laxman walked out with some debutant, called Ramesh.
We began contemplating how long this man was likely to last against Wasim and Waqar.

He would get to 5, some thought. Some raised the bar to 10.

It was an innocuous start before Ramesh did something that brought all of us to our feet.
You see, Wasim had got one to take off from a length and head for the ribcage.

The obvious reaction would have been to put the ball down, or if he was a really good back-foot player, then a meaty pull.
Instead, the right leg went up a few inches, the left knee bent a little, and those wrists flicked almost off his chest past square-leg.

How on earth?

India were supposed to see off 8 overs that evening.

Instead, they raced to 48 without loss, Ramesh 30 off 22 (I think).
Years later, we got to know that the entire dressing-room had burst into applause when they returned.

Azhar gifted him a new pair of shoes. He had never seen any youngster handle Wasim and Waqar like that, he admitted.
His 43 took him 41 balls. By the time he got out, he had won over the entire common-room, probably a steeper challenge than impressing the dressing-room.

By the time he was through with that 41-ball 43 the next morning, he had won over the entire common-room.
Ramesh had to be seen to be believed.

Had cricketing greatness been measured in mere elegance, he would have been become an all-time great. He was simply too gifted.

Unfortunately, they use mundane parameters like runs, averages, hundreds, etc.
Not that he did not have the numbers. 1,367 runs at 38 make reasonable reading.

Put a 1,000-run cut-off, and he has the 5th-highest average among Indian left-handers.

In fact, after 3 series and 7 Tests, his aggregate stood at 783 runs at 56 (2 hundreds, 5 fifties).
But in the end it was his style that set him apart.

Ramesh could drive and flick, both off the front foot and the back, with nonchalant ease.

Watching him could be fun and horror at the same time. You could not predict.
He would play the new ball through the slips.

He would place a swinging delivery from off-and-middle past square leg.

And then, when all seemed to go well, he would miss a straight ball, forcing you to think whether he is in form or whether it had all been an illusion.
This obviously meant he kept throwing away starts.

Against Australia in that historic 2000-01 series, Ramesh had scores of 44, 30, 61, and 25 in four of the six innings.

Even in his last series, later that year, he got 47, 2, 47, 31, 46, 55. Typical.
Why he was dropped after that series (Sri Lanka 2001), I do not know.

He was clearly returning to form after a bad patch.

In Test cricket Ramesh got 2 hundreds and 8 fifties. And 7 forties. Also typical.
He went to Australia in 2003-04. When Laxman went down with flu, they included Ramesh for the tour match against Victoria.

He got to know on the morning of the match, took some throwdowns, walked out at 8/1, and top-scored with 87, then got 36.
He got 21 and 37* (top score again) in his next tour match, against Queensland Academy of Sports, and 0 and 22 against Australia A.

True to the Rameshic approach, he crossed 20 five times but went past 40 only once.

But there was no more Test match for him.
Two final things:

1. Ramesh was the first Indian to take a wicket with his first ball in ODI cricket.

2. This. Start from 0.40.

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