Sunday, August 10, 2014

Commentaries and I

As I said earlier - or I hope I did - sports is not just a physical thing. A lot of it is played in mind. And as much as games are to be enjoyed, their capacity for entertainment is enhanced considerably by sports writers and commentators.
In my own case, i I think of the likes of Allan McGilvray - who was the first commentator in English I ever heard when I was in fact in school but had a passion for commentaries.
India were touring Australia then (1967) under Patuadi ( which became my fun nickname as a form of revenge by my village folks none of whom knew anything about cricket). I can recall McGilvray's description of important moments in that series, including how he described Pataudi's "tragic compsure" as the Indian skipper braved Mckenzi in an epic innings that stood out amid ruins.
I remember that because of the time gap between India and Australia. I used to get up at 4.30 a.m just to be able to listen to cricket commentary in the darkness of early winter mornings ( pressing my ears close to the radio set at near zero volume so as not to be found out by my stern father and brothers.Only mother would know and she would be worried about my suffering exposure to cold in the dead of the winter.) It is another matter that later in life I found out that father and brothers all knew of my passion and secretly approved of it.
Legendary commentators shaped my mind - the likes of Pearason Surreita, and the BBC string of immortals including Christopher Martin Jenkins ( I can never forget his words when Amarnath bowled Holding to give India the Pridential World Cup) Henry Bloefeld, Brian Johnston - these are the stuff of which language gems are made around immortal moments in sports, especially in cricket.

Cricket is as much about how those men play in the field as about what is talked about them outside that playing arena. No game, with the possible exception of soccer in my village, can match cricket in intellectual gossip, never ending trivia, experts comments, petty talk, myths, legends and written and unwritten literature, including poetry. In fact cricket literature is a genre by itself. I can honestly admit that I owe my interest in the English language to sports in which cricket, hockey, football and lawn tennis played a big part. When I was a sports journalist with Chandigarh based daily, The Tribune, most of my daily reports on filed by me to my desk were often described as "poetry" by Chief Subs, Sameul Banerjee, ( Ajay Banerjee 's peerless father) and Donald Banerjee . For the same reason, I used to have trouble with many of my other subs on the spots desk.
Thus, even though India lost the fourth Test to England when I was still travelling from one end of Punjab to another, I will not be stopped from talking about it.

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