A pall of gloom descended on the cricketing fraternity as the death of former India opener VB Chandrasekar spread shock waves across the country. Players, administrators and cricket lovers mourned the loss of the man who served the game with distinction in various capacities — as an opener, coach, selector, commentator and franchisee owner.
As his Twitter profile reads, VB inspired, intimidated but held steadfast to a vision for the future through his cricket academy and Kanchi Veerans, a team in the Tamil Nadu Premier League.
VB's wife has reportedly told the investigating officer that he was depressed because of mounting financial stress. But there are other theories like deteriorating health and issues in the family going around.
Incidentally, VB ended his life at home when the TNPL final was going on at Chepauk. His team Veerans had qualified for the playoffs for the first time, but they lost to Madurai Panthers in the Eliminator at Tirunelveli.
VB was supposed to be at the ground for a commentary stint on Thursday, but he called up the producer at the eleventh hour to inform him he wasn’t well. “He called the producer again about half an hour later and said he would try to come. But the producer told him to take rest,” said a source from the broadcaster.
A former cricketer, who is VB’s co-commentator, said that VB had lost weight drastically in the last one month. “He passed out twice during the journeys. But we all thought it was because of fatigue and constant travel for the TNPL matches. He never looked a worried man during his commentary stints though,” he said.
Four years ago, VB bought Kanchi Veerans franchisee in TNPL for `3.48 crores. Though the team did not perform well, VB never considered the franchisee as a financial burden. “He was running it smoothly and happy promoting youngsters in his team. Since the inaugural year, VB has managed to rope in decent sponsors.
Even if he had burnt his fingers by investing in a TNPL team, he could have easily wriggled out by selling one of his properties,” said a source from TNPL organisers.
VB’s father Bikseshwaran was a famous lawyer in the 80s. Even before VB made it to the Indian team, he used to ply around the Chennai roads in his Mercedes. VB also owned a sprawling cricket ground at Pudupakkam, off the Old Mahabalipuram Road. The estimated worth of the property is between `30-35 crore. “VB shares a great rapport with N. Srinivasan, the MD of India Cements. If finance was an issue, I am sure, one call to Srinivasan would have bailed him out. So, it's a shock for all of us why he took the drastic step,” one of his cricketing friends said.
During his playing days, VB -- as he was popularly called -- was an attacking batsman who matched his charismatic opening partner Kris Srikkanth stroke for stroke. The swashbuckling century that he had scored in the 1988 Irani Trophy mesmerised the Chepauk crowd and those who watched the knock would rave about it forever. After his retirement, VB shifted his focus on developing talent at the grassroots level and his VB’s Nest Academy churned out quality players for the state.
He served as a national selector and also coached the Tamil Nadu Ranji side. VB’s astute cricketing mind came to the fore as Operations Director of Chennai Super Kings during the initial years of IPL. He brought M.S. Dhoni to Chennai and set up a strong core team having roped in the likes of Suresh Raina, Michael Hussey and Matthew Hayden.
An engineering graduate, VB chose to pursue a career in cricket, even as his father wanted him to go to the US for an MS degree. Apart from cricket, VB was a great connoisseur of music. His daughters Shwetha and Ramya have been learning music from a young age and started rendering concerts a couple of years ago. Although he was known for his deeds on the field, to those outside the sport he was a doting father, a caring friend, an intelligent conversationalist, a witty companion and a god-fearing man.
Bhavna Balakrishnan, who worked with VB as co-presenter for TV shows, was gutted. “He was such a darling. Witty, wonderful and so wise. We’ve had so many conversations on astrology, music and, of course, cricket. I’ll miss your quips, wise-cracks and that big smile,” said Bhavna.
S. Badrinath who played under him in Tamil Nadu Ranji side said VB was an avid analyst and an expert reader of the game. “His insights into cricket were unparalleled. Learnt a lot from being a co-commentator. He had in-depth knowledge about captaincy and how it affects the game. He was instrumental in signing me up for the IPL. I will be forever grateful for the role he played in shaping my career,” said Badrinath....