P R Viswanathan, who served BCCI as a curator for well over a decade, was also a member of the committee from the South Zone that looked at improving qualities of pitches and grounds. As he retires from his role, he interacted with bcci.tv reflecting on his long career. Speaking about his initiation as a curator, he said, “I was in a business which did not go well. I had a background in Botany and was a post graduate in the subject, so I was doing a bit of landscaping work. At the time Chemplast wanted a ground prepared for them and I took the job. From there on it started. It has been about 25 years now.
“I prepared the grounds for Chemplast, India Cements, MRF, India Pistons etc. After about 10 to 12 grounds, I worked for Andhra Cricket Association. I did the initial work for the new stadium that they have now at Vizag and also Vijayawada. I did a good deal of work for Andhra. Once I took it up seriously, I left all the other things and focused on it,” he added while discussing his transition into the profession full time.
Asked about his work with BCCI, Viswanathan said, “I think it was around 2002-03 when New Zealand came to India and there was an ODI to be played a day before Diwali (in Chennai). It had been raining very heavily for more than a week, so I covered the ground completely. From then on I started working with the BCCI.”
Viswanathan also mentioned that the work he did along with Mr Daljit Singh in designing courses was one of the fulfilling initiatives of his tenure. “Daljit Singh and I were given the responsibility of conducting segregation courses. We did a lot of training work and conducted three certification courses for curators. We also brought out a manual which has been appreciated by quite a few. As a natural progression from the segregation course, we did a course for Level 1 we brought in a scientific approach. There are quite a few people like Taposh Chatterjee of Rajasthan, Ashish Bhowmick from Tripura who is looking after the East Zone; they are capable people who will take this work forward,” he said.
Reflecting on his career, Viswanathan said that preparing a ground and getting it match ready despite rains and bad weather at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru was one of the most memorable events for him. “The match was on 14th and I landed there on the 11th and India were to play South Africa. I had given instructions for rolling but just after two days of rolling, it started raining so nothing could be done about it. We started working but as we would remove the covers, it would start raining. Mr. Brijesh Patel from KSCA who was watching all this said, “Vishy can we do something and cover the ground?” A complete canopy extending almost 20 feet behind the wicket and either side was put up. Then from 1 pm in the afternoon till 10 pm in the night, we moved hot trolleys over the pitch, burnt charcoal, made hot plates and used them for six – seven hours. Then next day we came at 6 AM and the wicket was made. The match referee Jeff Crowe said that it was ready. Unfortunately, day and was rained off.”
On the occasion of his retirement, Viswanathan was felicitated for his service and contribution to by the BCCI in Chennai on February 14, 2018.