Unforgettable moments in the commentary box
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Unforgettable moments in the commentary box

By R.S. Krishnaswamy

I was a cricket commentator for almost 40 years and covered cricket in all types of format. I started at age 21 as a student commentator from Mysore and went on to successfully do commentary till 1997, when I officially retired.

My first match was Mysore Vs Hyderabad Ranji Trophy which was reduced to a one-day game because of rain (for which I was paid Rs.25 and the train fare). I chose cricket commentary for this article mainly because of the fantastic level of cricket broadcast which is coming up in the present day cricket.

Each and every one of the present day commentators are infinitely superior to those years ago (they are also paid huge sums of money on these activities). The unforgettable moments that I have chosen “do not have much cricket in it” but rare instances of cricketing commentary activities.

  1. My first match fellow commentator was the great M.N. Pachu (M.N. Parthasarathy), a Professor of English at Maharaja’s College who loved cricket more than anything else in the world. He never got married! He handed the mike over to me in that first match with the words, “handing over now to Thumbi.” Thumbi is my nickname. The AIR (Programme Executive) protested to Pachu not to use nicknames in commentary for which the great Pachu responded “I can’t help it, I know him only by that name ever since he was a child.”  Same Pachu had a tremendous disadvantage as he was unable to count the number of players in the team.  Every time he would start with “4 men in the off, 7 men in the on” and successfully make a mess in the total above eleven and ask the scorers to count and let him know. This was a fantastic joke amongst the other commentators.
  2. The other commentator of the same match was Safi Darashah, who was an IAS officer then (He also played Ranji Trophy cricket for Mysore State). He was one of the few delightful yet knowledgeable persons I shared the commentary box with. On that particular day he started off with “the fast bowler is coming up to bowl but the batsman withdraws his stance because sight screen is blocked.” Later it was discovered that the Policeman had passed the sight screen just when the ball was being bowled. Safi came out with the reaction, “the view of sight screen is blocked by a wretched Policeman.”
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Safi and all of us forgot about the whole issue. But later we learnt that the Commissioner of Police, Bangalore, had telephoned the KSCA President asking for a public apology from the commentator for using the word “wretched Policeman.”

Safi, the great sport that he was, immediately apologised stating additionally that he is an IAS officer, started his career as Superintendent of Police, so, he is doubly sorry for this wrong usage.

This third incident was during a Test match between Indian women’s team and New Zealand women’s team that was played in Chinnaswamy Stadium. When Shanta Rangaswamy was bowling to the New Zealand skipper Karen Hadlee, a ball hit Karen on her buttocks and went for 4 leg bye. The Kannada commentator gave a Kannada description of what had happened which came out sounding like a vulgar Kannada phrase. Immediately an AIR Executive asked him to stop. The Kannada commentator asked “idakke nanu enu helabeku (how else can I say this in Kannada)”

Later, after the match when I was interviewing Karen, I asked her about the leg-bye which had hit her hard, she said: “Yes, I was hit on my bum, it hurt, I got a boundary.”

These are some of my unforgettable moments inside the commentary box.

May 22, 2018

3 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Unforgettable moments in the commentary box”

  1. Arun says:

    Hats off to some eloquent and articulated cricket commentators who brought cricket “live” on AIR . With no TV while growing up, radio was our window to the world. Never forget Binaca Geeth Mala, Western Music on Week end Bangalore broadcast, Vividh Bharathi, and sound track of movies. Our imagination would go wild, picturing the players on the field, singers and actors. I used to read a lot of books in Kannada, Hindi and English. My favorite writers included Triveni, Charles Dickens, Alexandre Dumas, Kuvempu, Beechi and Gulshan Nanda. I also remember reading Chandamama, Mallige, Kasturi and Readers Digest regularly. Besides reading, my father used to tell a lot of stories from mythologies which are still etched in my memories. Our entertainment also included occasional movies, Kannada and English Plays (drama). With advent of technologies like video gaming, smart phones and streaming , I wonder if our future generation is missing out on many of the simple pleasures that we enjoyed while growing up.

  2. K S Balachandra says:

    I was a keen listener of cricket commentary of those days and a fan of R Krishnaswamy. His English as well as style were great. It was a AIR commentary and hence the game had to be enjoyed only from commentary and the game was to be totally explained unlike today’s tv commentary. That was a much superior effort.

  3. Dwarakanath says:

    I agree cometary on the radio was more exiting ..we could really visualise the match proceeding s ..by sitting in front of the radio.. I remember very popular comentraters…. like Chakrapani who went on to become news reader in ABC… Australian broadcasting corporation…, Maharaja of Vijayanagara.. known as Vizzy..,KK Tarapur. Etc. Who were supurb

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