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   The first cricket commentary... (July 27, 1990)

The first cricket commentary I really heard was during the Indian tour of England in 1946.

It was in Panchgani, at a boarding school, and a handful of thse senior students, members of the senior students, member of the cricket "A" team, were done the privilege after dinner to go up to the principals; residence and listen to the commentary over the radio. I was a senior student, but I was not in the cricket team, I was not good enough for the A' team and over for the B' and C' teams. But I was invited in my capacity as a cricket historian - which means that I used to keep the scores for all the big matches played on the tableland.

It was a unique experience and parts of it I recall quite vividly. The old radio, at least it seems old now, it must have been reasonably new then, the light glowing in the dial, the names of world capitals written on it: Budapest, Moscow Madrid, not that you could get the stations.

Still, there it was, London on the air, Lord's and the Kennington Oval. It amazed me how the voice was carried all the way across, over a distance that a P & O liner took the best part of 15 days to travel, and brought to the principal's house, under the tableland, above the Wai valley. I feel the same amazement how, but it is about ht ecolour pictures being transmitted right now.

Among the voices that were transmitted must have been that of John Arlott, though this I realsed much later, when Arlott's book, Indian Summer, covering the 1946 tour, came out. It was his first beek and it was his first year as a commentator.

Episodes from that Test series, and the shole tour, have stuck in the mind.

Our own Vijay Merchant being runout at 128most unforunate, because he could have gone on and on and on. I recall a newspaper writing the next day, though in Panchgani the papers came two days leter: "Had England not included an Arsenal centre-forward in its team. Vijay Merchant would have gone on and on. "Dennis Compton had kicked the ball into the wicket to get him out.

And Rusi Modi, shivering under several sweaters though I could not have seen that, there being no television, only it and imagained it, and now it is a picute in the mind. And Abdul Hafeez Kardar, the baby of the team, who went on to become the captain of Pakistan. After the tour, he stayed behind to study at Oxford, and, by the time he returned hime, he was in Pakistan.

It was a lovely tour, we lost one and drew two, one because of the rains, one by the skin of tour teeth, last amn Hindlekar playing out the last over. There was the senior Pataudi, all grace and honour, and Vinoo Mankan, the greatest allrounder that India has produced (this was not the Mankad Test tour, that was to follw), and Lala Amarnath (Illustrated Weekly summed up the tour and described him as "a thorn in England's flesh"), and C.S. Nayadu and Chandu Sarwate and S.W. Sohoni and S.G. Shinde (Sharad Pawar's father-in-law).

The 1946 tour has been my all-time favourite tour, none after that has impressed me so much. Now, I think, 1990 is going to be all-time favourite tour.

 
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