Cricket ---1960-1970 August 7,2011
The cricket season is presently underway and I observe that the Indian cricket team is struggling to retain their number one position. I also observe that I am finding it difficult to sustain my interest in the game as Indians continue their losing streak. They have lost two tests in a row. However, now that I have retired from active service, I need some interesting subjects to occupy myself with. Cricket being one of my major interests, I thought it would not be a bad idea to revisit my childhood days when there was no television and we had to mainly depend on radio commentary. I am talking about the period from 1960 to 1970 while I grew up in Mumbai. Test matches were played at Mumbai, Madras, Calcutta, New-Delhi and Kanpur. The radio commentators at all these centres were based from these regions. At Mumbai we invariably had Mr Vijay Merchant, Mr Anand Sethalvad , Mr Dicky Rutnagur and Mr Suresh Saraiyya. At Chennai we had Mr P. Ananda Rao, Mr Balu Alaganan and Mr R.T Partrhasarathy. At Calcutta, we had Mr Pearson Surita, Mr Devraj Puri and Mr Barry Sarbadhikary. However, my favourite here was Mr P. Ananda Rao who had a very special nasal voice and had excellent command over his English. He had his own inimitable style of commenting. Mr Anand Rao had his set of phrases and usages which none other used during his time. He also did not copy the likes of Mr John Arlott or Mr Lindsay Hasset. Take for example a sample of his style of commenting.
"There is a bowling change at the Walaja Road end. E.A.S Prassana has been brought in place of B.S Chandrasekar. Skipper Pataudi needs to be complimented for this change. What do you say Lala (Amarnath) about this change. Lala, appointed as expert for the match would offer his comments and Mr Rao would proceed as described below:
' As Prassana comes in bowls to Butcher, right arm over the wicket, good length, on the off and middle stump this time, the ball wraps him on his pads, there is an appeal for lbw, and the umpire Mr Shambu Pan who had a closer look has no hesitation in giving him out'. On some other occasion for a similar lbw appeal Mr Anand Rao would continue in the same excited fashion, to say that umpire has no hesitation in giving him 'not out', while eager fans would be expecting yet another wicket. That was Anand Rao googly for his fans. He was using terms like 'hugging mother's hair' when ball was hit all along the ground. His general presentation was very exquisite and detailed .This also suited the listeners who were keen on every single detail on the field since there was no television during those days.
However, there was one very annoying aspect of Mr Anand Rao's commentary. During the post tea session of every test match, listeners in South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand were given a brief account of the day's proceedings, which lasted for about ten minutes. During this time Mr Anand Rao would refrain from commenting on the current happenings till he completed the brief reporting of the day's proceedings. I vividly remember one such reporting when three English batsmen were dismissed, but the listeners were able to make out that wickets have fallen on the basis of roaring noises which were generally made when wickets fell.
During this nostalgic recall, I feel like listening to the nasal voice of Mr Anand Rao. If any of the cricket lovers can help me here I shall be grateful. Incidentally I may like to mention that I have tried You tube as also other websites but without success.
I would like to cover a few more observations concerning cricket during my later blogs, so watch out.