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.
- 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.
- 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.”
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.