Friday, April 3, 2020

C for Cricket - A few of my favourite things to counter COVID-19 stress

(This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. I am writing this month on activities that keep me refreshed during these depressing days. It's day 3 today.)

No, I am not playing cricket. That's unimaginable in these times, isn't it? So, what am I doing with cricket now? Wait, read on.

My interest in cricket was mainly because of an excellent English teacher, Prem C Nair, who was also a good cricket player. He introduced me to not only some of the famous cricketers but also cricket journalists. He used to tell us about the unique relationship between cricket and English literature. Some of the famous writers I got to know about from him are W G Grace, Neville Cardus and C L R James.

I can't believe now the amount of time I spent in school days listening to radio commentary during holidays. Those were the days of only 5-day Test matches. I did nothing other than listening to radio commentary from 10 in the morning to 5 in the evening on all five days. A number of friends also used to come to my house to listen to the ball-by-ball description or telecast on TV.

GREAT COMMENTATORS

The two great commentators of All India Radio I can fondly remember are Anand Setalvad and Suresh Saraiya. There were many others too like Balu Alaganan, J P Narayan, Sushil Doshi and Jasdev Singh.

On the BBC, I was a great fan of Test Match Special, which had the likes of Henry Blofeld, Brian Johnston, Christopher Martin-Jenkins, Don Mosey, and Johnathan Agnew. Unfortunately, I am unable to listen to TMS on the BBC app now because of geographical rights restrictions.

COLLATERAL BENEFITS

There were a few collateral benefits of my interest in cricket. I learnt very early where different nations, especially the cricket playing ones, are located on the global map. Secondly, I understood the concept of the time difference between nations. In New Zealand, matches start around 4.30 am Indian Standard Time, in Australia, around 5.30 am, in England, around 3.30 pm, in the West Indies around 8 pm.

THE FAMOUS LEG OVER

Okay, what am I doing with cricket now? I am watching clips on anything to do with cricket on YouTube. Unfortunately, there are not many archival clips of Indian commentary. I am still searching the web for excerpts of Anand Setalvad and Suresh Saraiya commentary. If anyone can find one, please let me know.

Henry Blofeld would easily rank as the most popular of all commentators, and the most well-known episode from his commentating days is what has come to be known as the "leg over". In fact, that bit was hailed by BBC Radio 5 listeners as the best ever piece of commentary on the radio!

Here is BBC TMS producer Peter Baxter explaining what that episode was.




Below is that very famous clip



Henry Blofeld's final moments of his 47-year-long radio commentator career



Blofeld reflecting on those final moments




Henry Blofeld has written two books: Over and Out and Squeezing the Orange.

If you are interested in some of the great funny moments inside the commentary box of Test Match Special, there is a book called Rain Stops Play written by Brian Johnston. It's when rain stops play that all the fun begins with commentators exchanging jokes and pulling each other's legs!

13 comments:

  1. Hi Pradeep - I'm (possibly was, as I don't watch much now-a-days) a huge cricket fan ... particularly back in the day. Loved those clips - now how I wish we could have some cricket matches!! Not to be ... take care - just wonderful viewing ... thanks - Hilary

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  2. Interesting post. I thought its going to be a usual pro-cricket writing-but thanks to the clarity you gave in the beginning.

    Harsha Bogle- the only name I can think of when it comes to Cricket commentary. I don't follow the game these days - except for the World Cup matches where India is playing.

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    1. Yes, Harsha Bhogle, is very talented and well-known. He has a wealth of knowledge of the game.
      Thanks for dropping by and for your comments.
      I shall go over to you blog.

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  4. Interesting and informative post. I too watch some important matches in Youtube. Thanks for the video clips.

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  5. Clever use of the letter! I'm no sports fan, but may have to watch that clip. Thank you for sharing. Be well!

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  6. I've never really understood cricket too well. In my first office job I had a mentor who tried desperately to get me interested in it - he was obsessed. Thanks for your visit.

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  7. The leg over clip made me giggle. Cheers for that.
    Not a big cricket fan myself but I do know someone who'd like that book you've reacoomended.
    Enjoyed reading this post.

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    1. There are many such hilarious episodes!
      Thanks.

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  8. I've never been a big sports fan. But if it's something you love, I wish you all the enjoyment of it you can find.

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  9. Hari OM
    I LOVE cricket! In Australia we could still see it on free to air television... here in the UK we can only listen on the radio - but I agree, the commentary is often what makes the match! YAM xx

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    1. I find the radio commentary more interesting. Unlike the TV telecast and accompanying commentary, the one on the radio is far more interesting.
      Tks.

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