Monday, August 8, 2011

Mr P.Anand Rao,Cricket commentator

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.




  1. This is brilliant piece and I could relate to this every bit. I think we should try to retrieve some old fotos also along with the write-up - that would make it more interesting. I will check if I can lay my hands there.
    Cheers and keep up the good work

  2. One more commentator you have to add Maharajkumar of Vizianagram (vizzy)an interesting man to listen.
    One occasion coming to my mind when India First time beat Australia on Vijayadashami at bombay

  3. Cricket Commentary during 60s and 70s was a very great experience for us. We were students of Govt.Arts College now kaide Millath in the 1961 and 5 of us were studying PUC there and we were Cricket fantics.We wanted India to win all matches but India was almost always at the receiving end.Pankaj Roy and Vinoo mankad used to open Indian batting facing the fastest Gilchrist and Hall without helmets.Mind you Roy was bespectacled and was never hurt.Such was the technique with which they played the game.No TV in those days and we were depending uon the Radio only.During College working days we used togo to a small radio shop to listen to the commentary.The shop owner will soon switch off the set and used to tell us one valve was repaired.He would say that the cost of the valve was 5Rs and we used to forego our lunch and part with the money.He would further say that he was hungry and we would get him masala dosai from the nearby Swamy's Cafe in Mount Rd.Afterr all this he would switch on the radio and we would hear Vizzy narrating the game in his own style.Vizzy was Maharajkumar of Viziianagaram and very fond of Cricket. Once Indai lost both openers cheaply and one down was Vijay manjerekar and 2down Vijay hazare and 3 down Polly Umrigar were all out for a paltry25 and Vizzy exclaimed it 'Vinachakala Vibaritha Buddhi'meanning 'Misfortune never comes single!" when India once defeated England there was celebrations all over and it was a National Holiday!Madras Test used to be held at the Nehru Stadium near Moore market and that will coincide with Pongal Holidays and we would be too happy with an Indian win.Hearing commentary was very much of thrilling and interesting experience and we enjoyed every bit of it.Nowadays Cricket can be watched from the drawing room and crores of money is involved in the game.But in 60s and 70s there were less money and surely more dedication to the game. We can never forget the golden voices of John Arlott and Brian Johnston of England.Michel Charlton and Alan Mgilvary of Australlia,Dicky Rutnagur of West Indies and the likes of Berry, Ananda Rao,Balu Alagannan and Narottam Puri of India.Cricket commentary was the golden aspect of the Audio revolution and even with all the TVs that was best !Another intereesting and mot thrilling experience was watching the HINDU
    Score board in the busy Mount Road.Reading the articles of Jack Finglton and SKG were more than watching the game on TV.The HINDU has contributed very significantly to SPORTS
    S.venugopalanRTD RBI CHENNAI Ph044-42151321

  4. slightly short of full length, outside the off stump, the batsman makes a tentative attempt to play defensively forward, missed the line of the ball completely and was clean bowled-
    all nasal, all Anand Rao in monotones. How great it was !!

  5. "Raps" him on the pads and not "wraps". Also I remember Ananda Rao saying "....scorching mother earth as it races to the boundary."

  6. Thank you.i also remember him saying--"hugging mother's hair" instead of all along the ground etc

  7. Nice anecdotes about P Ananda Rao. If I remember correctly Lala Amarnath was not the expert commentator - it usually was Vizzy [ short for Maharaja of Vijaynagaram- and he used to droll on an on ,leaving us wandering when he will hand it over to the commentator again. I also remember-before the 60 's oh hell- I just forgot his name- the Parsi gentleman- who never shared commentary and used to do the whole commentary for the whole day in Bombay- non-stop. Good job K V V- keep it up

  8. Yes! Anand Rao had his own unique style of commentary and I had enjoyed his commentary always. I have unsuccessfully scoured the internet in an attempt to get some audio clips from the past for examples of Anand's inimitable style, which I used to attempt to imitate - that nasal accent which normally would have been deemed monotonous but no so with his variety of style and unusual combination of words - "hugging mother earth" etc. Another piece I remember goes like this - "Ball pitched slightly short of the length, outside the off stump, the batsman Sunil Gavaskar plays defensively forward to, the ball trickles down towards where silly mid-off might have been`. His knowledge of the game was also exceptional.

    1. I agree with you fully.We miss the likes of him these days.Radio commentary was such a great FUN those days.



  10. one famous quote of Anand rao was taken on the full and driven powerfully to deep midwicket boundary for four four runs,


  11. P.Anand Rao was excellent commentator of Cricket in the 60's. He was General Manager of DasaPrakash hotels which was a top class hotel in the u started category. Cricketers used to stay there as it was only 2kms from The Stadium behind the Ripon Bldgs. Nicely written article.

  12. Dilip Apte Saheb are you talking of AUSTRALIA?

  13. Dilip Apte Saheb are you talking of AUSTRALIA?

  14. Here's one I remember very clearly. This is against New Zealand:

    "Reid on 42 as Nadkarni moves in to bowl to Reid....
    And Reid is wrapped on the pads, there is a loud appeal by Nadkarni, upheld by the umpire, and Reid is out.:

  15. Anandrao commentary - As he moves in from the garden end, he sends down yet another ball, good length ball and there is a tentative attempt by the batsman to pull him around,he doesn't succeed and the ball is collected by wk Tamhane standing about 10-15 yards behind the stumps...who collects the ball cleanly and hands it over to Umrigar at first slip who in turn passes it on to Manjreakar at second slip and the ball is already in the hands of the bowler.As we have been telling you these, Venkataraghavan has sent down yet another ball,short of the length and batsman Jim Parks has nothing to do with it and the ball is already in the hands of the bowler.Smoke is coming out of the chimneys understandably so with Kanpur being an industrial city and as we have been telling you these, Venkataraghavan has sent down yet.....

  16. Brilliantly written article. Thanks.

    I just could not resist the temptation of adding a couple of my own impressions.

    As 15 year olds, my friends and I , became big time fans of commentator Ananda Rao around 1966-67 . What first drew us to him was his golden voice ( though a tad nasal ) and his superb command over English. Add to this his fascination for detailing and his endearing narration made him extremely popular.

    We also loved Anant Setalwad , who too had a gifted voice and a smooth narration, but Ananda Rao stood out with his unique style, which made his listeners yearning for more. Those days, media meant only the radio and the newspapers ( even sports magazines such as SportsStar, SportsWorld came much later ) and listeners had no choice but to cling to every word a commentator would utter to catch up with the action. And here, Ananda Rao was the master !

    Sample these .." And that marks the end of another typical Nadkarni over, a maiden, of course " or "Conrad Hunte drives powerfully towards the covers region, Pataudi goes down on one knee, makes sure of stopping the ball, which he eventually does."

    On Wes Hall, in the 1966-67 series "Wes Hall, the old fire still burns. The gentle giant, steams in almost from the boundary line, his majestic run-up reminds one of a well-oiled express locomotive. You can see his shirt wide open, with his silver cross dangling from his powerful neck; you can feel his big muscles ripping against his white trousers . He delivers another thunder-bolt at Sardesai, which the batsman defends, showing the full face of his bat. Hall collects the ball on his follow-thru , throws it to Rohan Kanhai fielding at Mid-on and begins his long walk to the top of his bowling mark. Kanhai, meanwhile, is seen vigorously polishing the new ball on his trousers, runs after Hall and throws the ball at the receding back of the tall and lithe fast bowler. The ball hits Hall's back with a thud, must cause him tremendous burn; but Hall catches the ball showing no visible signs of any pain and strides back to the top of his bowling mark..."

    What narration ! Ananda Rao, with his picturesque commentating skills , drew a fascinating visual of a tear-away world class pace bowler in full throttle . What more do the listeners want ?

    We also looked forward to Ananda Rao's summing up of the day's proceedings upto the tea interval , for the benefit of overseas listener. His summing up reflected an extra-ordinary memory, his in-depth knowledge of the game and a perfect lesson for wrapping up in style. He was so much focused on this tough job that he would overlook any unusual event happening on the field. As listeners, whenever there was a roar from the stadium, we had no alternative but to hazard a guess that a wicket has fallen or a boundary has been hit.

    Truly, a master of his art.

    When we read a news item in "The Hindu" that our favourite commentator was the General Manager of Das Prakash Group of Hotels, we could relate to him even more, as the Group hails from Udupi, our home town.