Of cricket commentaries and Mother India

“This is All India Radio (AIR): Good morning. We now take you to the ball by ball commentary of the first Cricket Test Match between India and the West Indies. Over then to our Commentator: VC.”

VC: “Gooood morrning, good morrning…welcome to the Stadium in Bombay where the greatest West Indian team led by Clive Lloyd will face Mother India in this very important testa match. The sky is blue and the grass is green. The stadium is so full of mankind. Not even a cup of tea can be seen. Outside even the people have climbed coconut trees like monkeys at the Ganesh Temple across the road to glimpse the game. With me is our specialists Lala Amarnath and Brian Close (BC) and our astounding record keeper Ambapaani. I can announce now that West Indies have won the taass (toss) and elected to field. The Umpires are one Manniam and the other is Velupillay.”

Brian Close: “How do you spell their names?”

VC: “Umpire Manniam comes from the deep south..it is yem, yay (a), yen, yet another yen, yay (a), yem! Umpire Velupillay also comes from the deep south also…that is a vee, eeee, yell, uuu, p, eye, yell, yet another yell, yay and a why. The first yell has one yell and the second yell has two yells!!” We are now awaiting for the beginning start of the Test match.”

BC: “Do you play cricket throughout the year in India? In England we play only during the summer season.”

VC: “Of course, of course, we play throughout the year. But we too have three seasons…hot, hotter hottest!”

This was how things went in our time, decades ago, in the pre-TV era. We would tune into commentaries on All India Radio with transistors glued to our ears. Our interest was not necessarily the finer points of the Indian cricketing feats of Vinod Mankad or Sunil Ghavaskar. The driver was the joy we relished in the graphic, vivid, animated descriptions over the air ways by some Indian commentators of our time.

Some of us would ‘tape-record’ and replay them many a time for entertainment. Like vintage wine, the recounting of the commentaries over the years, were embellished and exaggerated. 

Now that the Indian team is wreaking havoc in encounters with Sri Lanka in our Mother Land, we were at a commiserating function where Srilal Perera, now an Attorney of international repute, after bending a few elbows, was rendering a Comedy Central style account reminiscing of the good ole days. 

The commentary continues: 

VC: “All the West Indies are all on the field now and India’s openers, Rai (Roy) and Sunil Gavaskar are approaching the crease now. Roy will be facing the great Wesley Haaall, the fastest baller in the world from the Rice Mill end. Now, Wesley Haaall is beginning his run-up…he is runnning, runnning, runnning, runnning, runnning, runnning, runnning….runnning…and balls the ball ….and he is bowlded him…. what a disaster for Mother India…one for naught….”

VC: “After 10 overs India is 5 wickets for almost nothing!! What a disaster… Chaarrrlie Griffith, Ah! demon bowler, is bowling to very small Gavaskar who has surrrvived up to now. Oh…..oh….oh…there is a very loud screaming appeal for wicket before the leg. Sorry, leg before. Gavaskar put the pad before the bat….and all of the West Indies shouted for LBW!! But umpire Manniam says he has nothing to do with it!!! Oh, yes, yes, yes, our very observant record keeper Ambapaani has just informed me that a new record has been broken in this Stadium…that was 25th LBW appeal against Gavaskar that has been turned down by the Indian Umpires…!!!”

After 50 Overs. VC: “Mother India is really, really, struggling, it is disaster after disaster, it is Vishwanath and Chandrashekhar left for India. Lance Gibbs, the wily leg spinner is bowling leg spin and other types of……oh…gundues!!! He balls a wily baall and he is out…Oh! Oh! God Krishna…India all out….. Disaster for Mother India.”

Third day. VC: “Mother India is struggling against this mighty giant West Indies. India following-on! Ah! Great shot Kanhai has swiped the baalll on to the leg side and it is Patel who is giving chase to the baall. It is a race between Patel and the baall. Baall running Patel running, Patel running, ball running as the Ball is moving swiftly to the boundary… and the ball has beaten the Patel to the boundary.”

VC (very excited): “Suddenly the forrrward progress of this disastrous test match for Mother India is being heartily interrupted by a ‘Bll’ running into the field!! Presently, the ‘Bll’ is being chased by so many men who have their verties tucked to their waiste even their privates can be seen…..shame….shame….shame…”

BC: “What is a “Bll?”

VC: “Why you don’t know? Bee, eee, yell, yell, ‘Bll’? Husband of ‘holy cow’?!!!”

VC: “Adding to the chaos and mayhem fire crackers are going all over the Stadium! Our very keen record keeper Ambapaani has just informed me that yet another record has been broken in the Stadium… the 586th cracker has gone off creating a single day record for cracker blasting!!!!»

A few overs later India all out! VC: «What a saaad, saaaad, day for Mother India… All is laast…(lost)! Mother India has been beaten by the mighty West Indies…And as if to show this great, great sadness, the shadus (shadows) are lengthening into the field this way and that way….and with those final words I am VC your commentator and servant sending you back to the studio.» 

All India Radio: “Thank you VC… and if you have contracted a head-ache listening to this commentary….try ‘Crickdon,’ the all purpose medication for all pains.”


(The writer can be contacted by e mail: Mohamed@mvmuhsin.com.)