Sunday, April 29, 2007

Memorable Cricket Matches of the 1980s

Continuing the series of old cricket matches, this week's series takes a look at 3 matches of the 1980s and a tied one dayer involving West Indies and India

1. Jan 1983 World Series Cup - England v New Zealand

It was still early days of flood light cricket and coloured clothing. The 1982-83 WSC –Aus, Eng and NZ- featured some big names and big matches. This one features the best match of the 1983 WSC at the Adelaide Oval.

It was David Gower’s best one day tournament and he seemed to be in magical touch through the tournament. England had other big names as well - Ian Botham, Bob Willis, Derek Randall (batting beautifully) and a young Allan Lamb.

NZ had biggies in Hadlee, big hitting Cairns, Coney, economical Chatfield and solid openers in Wright and Edgar. Aus had Chappell, Hughes, Border and Hookes in batting and Rodney Hogg and Lawson leading the attack joined by Lillee in the later half of the series.

While the WSC of 1983 had several highlights, it had its low moments too…Dennis Lillee’s open on field rift with Kim Hughes (who had displaced Greg Chappell as captain) on a field placing issue. Lillee was booed by the Aussie crowd as he came into bowl…quite a sight in Australian cricket.

David Gower once again scored a century to take England close to 300 after Ian Botham, opening the innings, had made a better than run a ball half century. While these days chasing 300+ is a normal happening, this chase at the Adelaide Oval was one of the best big chases of that time and still remains one of my favourite one day matches.

The short square boundaries suited Richard Hadlee as he took NZ to victory(297/6) with a sparkling 79 (one of Hadlee’s best one day innings), after Lance Cairns (known for his big hitting) had taken apart the English attack with a rapid 49 off 20 odd balls.

Later that series, in fact in the 2nd final, Lance Cairns once again displayed his big hitting with a half century that included six sixers.

2. 1983-84 Port of Spain, Trinidad - Border’s brilliant double – 98 NO and 100NO
It was Australia’s first overseas trip after the retirement of GS, DK Lillee and Rodney Marsh ( all at one time). And what a difficult one at that. After drawing the first test, the Aussies went to POS with some hope and confidence. Deano (Dean Jones) in his debut innings made 48 but it was AB’s(Allan Border) unbeaten 98 that took Australia past the 250 mark, after being 5 down for less than 100 at one stage.
Windies took a 200 run lead with Jeffery Dujon once again dazzling against Australia with an elegant century (Remember Dujon had struck successive 40s in his debut series 3 years ago in Australia, playing as a batsman (not keeper))
Behind by over 200 runs, Aussie top order failed once again and it looked, on day 5, like WI would take 1-0 lead in the series . Australia had collapsed to 160/7 in the afternoon session. And when Terry Alderman( a close contender for permanent No. 11 with Walsh) joined AB at 9/240, it seemed like it would be a matter of time. Just 15months ago, AB had been in some sort of a similar situation and lost.
Border, in the company of Jeff Thomson, had battled against the English attack for over 2 hours, on 4th evening and 5th day morning, in a 10th wicket stand that almost won the Boxing Day Ashes Test Match of 1982 (till Miller via Tavera pulled off a spectacular catch at 2nd slip to secure England the win that day). But this time Border pulled off a draw….an unbeaten 100 with the last pair fighting it out for 2 hours on the last evening.
It was a memorable test match for Border and one that I particularly enjoyed. It was possibly Allan Border’s two best test innings. While Australia went on to lose that series, the gutsy and ‘fight to death’ approach of Border was already visible and later that decade, it was this fighting approach of Border led Australia that brought them on top of the world stage.
3. 1980 Aus v Pak Lahore Test on Radio Pak- Two Unbeaten 150s in one test
Exactly 4 years before the above match, in March of 1980, Allan Border had played another brilliant double to save the 1980 Lahore test for Australia. In an Australian team that had more prominent names, Chappell, Hughes, Marsh, Lillee and against a Pakistan attack that had Imran and Sarfraz at their best, it was Allan Border, just in his 2nd year of International cricket, who helped save face from another loss to Pakistan.
Border helped Australia recover in each innings after Australia had collapsed to 150/4 in both. This was particularly significant for Border as only a year back, at the MCG in 1979, Sarfraz Nawaz triggered the most bizarre collapse in Test history by bowling Border just after he had reached his century (with Australia requiring just 75 runs for victory). And within the next half hour, Sarfraz had orchestrated a collapse that saw Australia lose 7 wkts for 5 runs.
This time around, Border made sure that he would not lose his wicket and took Australia to safety. It was also Lillee’s only series in the Sub-Continent. Border’s 150NO in each innings of the Lahore Test of 1979 was the first ever two innings unbeaten 150 in the same test by a batsman in Test History.

4. WSC 1991- Ind v WI WACA, Perth- A low scoring tie

On the bouncy WACA pitch, India was bowled out by Ambrose and co for 126. That afternoon, few gave India a chance. With the match turning interesting, evening India time, I was up there in my class at Vivekananda College listening to Radio Australia.
I must have been one of the few who had the guts to get a transistor into a ‘class room’ at Viveka.

Indians had WI on the ropes at 75/8 but Ambrose and Cummins brought WI back into the match with a good 9th wicket stand. In a clever use of bowlers, Indians had bowled out the four main bowlers ( 10 overs each) in the first 40 overs.

With 10 overs to go, Sachin was brought on as the 5th bowler and in his first over, he had Anderson Cummins edging low to Azhar at 2nd slip. And the match was tied. A tremendous comeback by India, taking one’s memories back 5-6 years to the match in Sharjah when India came back strong after being bowled out for 125 by Imran led Pakistan.

By the time this match ended, I even had my Income Tax lecturer interested in the match and listening to the broadcast.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Kandiyur Hara Sabha Vimosana Perumal

Divya Desam where Shiva got rid of ‘Brahmma’s Curse’
Pancha Kamala Kshetram 
Visit this Divya Desam for salvation from all curses

Located 11kms from Thanjavur on the road to Thiruvayaru, this place is called Kandiyur in memory of Lord Shiva, also known as Kandeeswarar, who was liberated from Brahmma’s curse.

The story 
Once upon a time, both Shiva and Brahmma had 5 heads. One day Parvati (Shiva’s wife) coming out of her pooja mistook Brahmma (because of his 5 heads) for her husband and began serving him by washing his legs. A furious Shiva opined that Brahmma and his 5 heads was the reason for this confusion and that Brahmma had become arrogant because he too had 5 heads.

In a fit of anger, Shiva took the middle head of Brahmma with his hand. Unfortunately though, the 5th head of Brahmma stuck to his (Shiva’s) hand. Shiva went around on a pilgrimage to find salvation from the curse by begging for food, with Brahmma’s skull as the begging vessel. Every time someone filled the vessel with food, it vanished immediately, to Shiva’s horror.

Finally on reaching Uthamar Koil (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2007/05/108-divya-desam-uthamar-koil.html), Goddess Lakshmi filled the vessel with food ending Shiva’s hunger. However, to Shiva’s dismay, Brahmma’s skull still lay fixed on his hand. Purushottamar answered Shiva’s prayer for salvation and asked him to bathe at Kandiyur and seek the blessings of Goddess Kamalavalli and Lord Kamalanathan at Kandiyur.

As Lord Shiva was liberated from his curse here at Kandiyur, the moolavar here is called ‘Hara Sabha Vimosana Perumal’(Hara is another name of Shiva).

Thirumangai Azhvaar’s reference to Shiva's curse

பிண்டி ஆர் மண்டை ஏந்தி  பிறர் மனை 
திரிதந்து உண்ணும் 
முன்டியான் சாபா தீர்த்த ஒருவன் ஊர் 
உலகம் ஏத்தும் 

கண்டியூர் அரங்கம் மெய்யம் கச்சி 
பேர் மல்லை என்று 
மண்டினார் உய்யல் அல்லால்  மற்றையார்க்கு
உய்யல்  ஆமே - Thiru Kurunthaandagam

Pancha Kamala Kshetram
Being the place where Shiva himself got salvation from his curse, it is believed that all our curses will go away if one visits this temple and offers sincere prayers here.

This is also known as the Pancha Kamala Kshetram (Lord Kamalanathan, Goddess Kamalavalli, Kamala Pushkarani, Kamala Vimanam and Kamala Kshetram)

Quick Facts:
Moolavar : Hara Sabha Vimosana Perumal East Facing Standing Posture
Thaayar    :  Kamalavalli Naachiyar
Utsavar     :  Kamalanathan
Time         : 8am-12noon and 430pm-8pm
Contact    : Kannan Bhattar @ 94872 52321 / 99439 44415

How to reach
Buses ply every 5-10 minutes between Thanjavur and Thiruvayaru

Place to stay
A number of economical hotels at Thanjavur
Retiring room at Thanjavur railway station

When here, also visit Srinivasa Perumal temple at Kalyanapuram, 2kms North East of here, ( http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2008/11/kalyanapuram-srinivasa-perumal.html)
and Thanjai Maa Mani Divya Desam on the banks of Vannar ( http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2009/01/thanjai-maa-mani-koil-divya-desam.html).

Memorable cricket matches on the Radio- 1985 and after

Cricket Tales- Part 3

1.India v England – WCC 1985- cut school to listen to LS bowling

I remember this day as I came in early from school ( half a day cut, one may call it) in Bangalore to listen to LS’ bowling on Radio Australia.(The Aussie commentators had a high opinion of LS- remember he had bowled well in India’s first match in the WCC against Pak. When I reached home, England were rather doing well in their reply with Gower in form. LS caused a collapse removing 3 top batsmen one after another. A match that afternoon which looked like going the full distance was suddenly cut short by LS who got David Gower and Lamb. In the earlier match he had got Zaheer Abbas. India won the match comfortably. The spin duo of Shastri and LS made it a potent attack for India that season.

However the MOM was the other star of that tournament- Krishnamachari Srikkanth who that morning had scored a run a ball half century in his typical style.

2. Hadlee’s 15 wkts at the Gabba to help NZ to an innings win against Aus- 1985-86
21 years ago this month, I woke up early morning to listen to Richard Hadlee ripping through the Australian batting line- a very inexperienced one at that…. Hilditch ( Indian fans will remember him well- he had come here in 1978-79 with a 2nd rung Australian team under the captaincy of Kim Hughes) was making a comeback. AB and Wessels were the only 2 experienced players and this Aussie team was trying to recover from the retirement of the 3 greats a couple of seasons ago (Lillee, Marsh and Chappell) and the rebels (Hughes and co).

I was always an Aussie supporter, right from my childhood but had a soft corner for NZ. While for several years, we questioned the NZ umpiring, I always believed that NZ played the game fair. And Hadlee was ‘fairness personified’. He would quietly turn back and walk briskly to the bowling mark if a batsman hit him for four. And so was his famous bowling partner of the 1980s- Ewen Chatfield. I had listened to the entire series 5 years ago in 1980 when New Zealand lost to Australia under Geoff Howarth, a team that had two stars fielders in John Parker and Mark Burgess.

And was hoping NZ would turn the fortunes this time around , especially against a weakened Aussie team. Hadlee was at his peak in 1985 and NZ that season boasted of some experienced blokes – strong opening pair of Edgar and Wright and with Jeremy Coney( all three had been part of the losing team in 1980) in the middle order.Martin Crowe was establishing himself then.

Hadlee took 9 for 50, he scored a quick fire half century when NZ batted and then came back to take 6 wickets in the second innings to set up an innings win for NZ. They did manage to win the series with Hadlee taking 11 wkts in the third test after Australia had come back well in the 2nd test at Sydney. It was Hadlee’s best series against Australia.

3. Last ball six on Radio Pakistan-1986

Unusually heavy rains in Bangalore that April evening in 1986 resulted in a power cut in our Syndicate Bank colony in Magadi Road. Here was I with my little National Panasonic transistor and all of the colony friends eagerly awaiting the result of the match (though for most it was a foregone conclusion that India would win and comfortably at that). I listened to the last 10 overs of that match on Radio Pakistan including the dramatic last over and the last ball six by Javed Miandad, described by Chisti Mujahid, that most excitable of Radio Pak commentators. For several years, after that, Radio Pakistan played that over during lunch and tea breaks.

4. England’s triple crown in 1986-87- Lamb strikes 18 in the last over to beat Aus

This was quite a surprise series for England as they peaked under Mike Gatting. Phil Defrietes and Jack Richards emerged as young stars. It is another matter that both of them did not quite fulfil their potential. They won all the three trophies that season- The 4 team Perth Challenge, the WSC involving Aus, WI and Eng and the Ashes.

Allan Lamb, who had had a poor series and was struggling, turned his fortunes with a brilliant last over finish at the SCG in January 1987, when he struck Bruce Reid for 18 runs to win the WSC match from no where, this after Dirk Wellham had earlier that day struck 97 to help Aus post a fighting total. This match has remained etched in my memory ever since.

4.Through the night on Radio Pakistan- 1988 in the Windies

This was a series I enjoyed a lot. Three terrific test matches- Imran, Javed and Abdul (Qadir) at their best vs Richards, Marshall and co…And a couple of really interesting test matches.

At Port of Spain and the 2nd test, Jeffery Dujon once again helped a late order recovery with an unbeaten century in the 2nd innings after Pak and WI were both bowled out for low scores in the first innings (Imran and Qadir bundling out the WI and Marshall running through the Pak 1st innings). Incidentally Vivian Richards had WI’s early recovery after a Imran Khan blast had seen a top order collapse.

Set over 370 to win, Pak collapsed against Marshall and Benjamin before Javed Miandad played yet another gutsy match saving innings. I stayed awake through the night listening to Miandad’s innings, well into early morning 3amish.

His dismissal with about another 80 required revived West Indian hopes. Saleem Yousuf
( Indian cricket followers will remember him well, though he only played a few matches for Pak) played out the last hour and a half before falling in the last over of the match.

West Indies still had hope – 5 balls left and Qadir coming in. The Radio Pak commentators were tense. Earlier that night, they were in high voice when Miandad was batting. Qadir was not known for his defence but he managed to see out the over (Pak were 30 runs short of a win) and Pak narrowly avoided defeat. Thus Pak still led 1-0 going into the 3rd and final test.

The third test was another thriller. After an even 1st innings, Imran Khan and Saleem Yousuf helped Pak recover on the 4th morning, setting WI at 250+ target to square the series.

Day 5 turned out to be a thriller. WI went into it with over a 100 required and 5 wkts in hand with Richards still there. But he went early on day 5 to a Wasim Akram spell in which he took two other wickets.

With over 50 required and only Dujon left of the recognized batsmen, it looked like Akram and Qadir will Pak through to fulfil Imran’s wish of beating WI in WI (i.e winning a series in WI). But it was not to be. In a brilliant counterattacking knock, Winston Benjamin blasted a quick unbeaten 40 while Dujon played an uncharacteristic second fiddle as the two took WI to a series equaling 2 wicket victory.

5. Steve Waugh’s two centuries in two tests-The English Summer of 1989

From the time I heard Steve in the 1985-86 series in India and later in the WSC vs England and WI (1986-87), I had backed him. But it was not until this series that Steve really managed to capture the attention on the Test Arena. I listened ball by ball to both his unbeaten knocks in the first two tests of the 1989 Ashes- this time bunking my evening college- 177 N O and 152 N O , quite a bit of it made in the company of Merwyn Hughes and Geoffery Lawson - and enjoyed every moment of that one. It was the comeback series for Australia on the Ashes front and Steve was instrumental in the wins.

6. Kapil Dev’s four sixers in four balls- English Summer of 1990

India were fighting to save the follow on. Kapil was at the crease and he had Hirwani at the other end…He decided to go after Eddie Hemmings. It was Chris Martin Jenkins who was on air at that time. The English commentators were well used to Kapil’s exploits in the UK- his 175 in the 1983 world cup, his catch of Viv Richards in the final that turned the finals in India’s favour, him captaining India to its first series win in England in 1986.England had been a favourite hunting ground for Kapil. But this one surprised even the BBC TMS commentators. Martin Jenkins kept saying ‘ here’s another one, another one….’. And he couldn’t quite believe that Kapil had hit 4 of 4( four sixers of four balls).

Indian supporters possibly remember this 1990 series for Gooch’s 333 but this splendid Kapil Gem was a personal favourite of mine.

Domestic(India) Cricket Matches -1979-1983

1. TN vs Karnataka in Bangalore-1979 November

It was a match I distinctly remember to this day for 2 reasons.

a.It was the first commentary match I heard in Kannada and that famous Kannada commentary term “ Solpa mattige thirugichendunna…”

I guess it was quite an opt repeated word then with so many class spinners…Venkat and Vasu Vs Chandra, Vijayakrishna and Raghuram Bhat.

b. On the 3rd day which was a Sunday, TN, which had given a 100 run lead to Karnataka on the first innings, had to fight out to save the match after a top/middle order collapse against Chandra and Vijayakrishna. I had a tense afternoon sitting thru the 2nd session in the garden of my Coimbatore house, listening to the frustrated Kannada commentators as Venkat and Vasu battled it out against these two classy Karnataka spinners. It was the first of several interesting encounters I was to listen to over the next decade between these two competitive teams.

Just for interest, Karnataka middle order comprised of Brijesh Patel (the most prolific batsmen then in Ranji cricket), GR Vishwanath, AV Jayaprakash(now Umpire) and Sudhakar Rao.

2. Tamil Nadu v Hyderabad in Coimbatore- 1982 January- My first Ranji match at the ground

It was the first Ranji match I watched. It was at the forest college ground in Coimbatore. I ran to the ground at 4pmish on Friday evening after attending school ( the forest college ground was under 1 km from my school). Hyderabad was all out on day one. I remember watching V. Shiv and TE batting out the last few overs that day. I may be wrong but I think V. Shiv got out to the last ball on day one to Arshad Ayub.

I also remember a very very boring 3rd day, when Hyderabad batted through the day…There were boos from the huge Sunday crowd….Time and again, our famous commentator Ramamoorthy would say ‘lunges forward in defence’. I was to watch Azhar too that day, who later shot into prominence with centuries in his first 3 tests as well as Arshad Ayub. Tamil Nadu won the match on first innings lead but my looking forward to good cricket from MV Narasimha Rao, Khalid Abdul Qayyum and Vijay Mohan Raj came a cropper…

This match was so dull, that I left the ground after tea in frustration.

3. Feb 1982 Pre Quarter final match- NP Madhavan’s century for TN against UP

It was just about the time NP Madhavan quit his IOB job and joined SVPB, Udumalpet. I had watched him play his first match for SVPB at the Forest College ground( I still remember me asking him, as a 10 year old boy, why he quit a Chennai based bank job to join an Udumalpet paper company).

NP Madhavan was my favourite cricketer for a long long time and was a role model for me –a very quiet cricketer, superbly behaved and a sporting cricketer.

He had got a chance to play for TN in the Knock out matches after having missed out on the South Zone league that season.

I was wary of UP as they had that prolific run getter in Sashikant Khandkar who it seemed would score runs every time he went out to bat, in those days. And true to form, he got a big hundred(actually close to a double hundred) but none else scored.

I was looking forward to Madhavan and he did not disappoint me that day. Along with S. Srinivasan (another player who would later turn out for SVPB in Coimbatore), he helped TN get out of trouble to give them the crucial first innings lead. Madhavan scored 125. Seena(as he was called by his team mates) also scored a century as the two put on a double century stand.
(TN lost the QF match against Delhi and this to this day has remained a question within me as to why TN could win over Delhi or Bombay in crucial knock out matches)

4. Karnataka Vs Bombay in Bangalore- Ranji Semi Finals – March 1982 - Gavaskar batting left handed- once again leaves a poor taste

It was a very strong Bombay team vs an equally strong Karnataka outfit. I went in for Karnataka. Yes I had that natural dislike for Bombay cricketers.

Gavaskar, Vengsarkar, Patil and Ashok Mankad against Binny, GRV, Brijesh Patel and Sudhakar Rao.

And yes, it was once again ‘Solpa Mattige Thirugichendunna’ - Raghuram Bhat and Vijayakrishna vs Shastri and Thakkar. Kannada commentators had a field day with their favourite term every time one of these spinners bowled.

Karnataka took the first innings lead easily thanks to superb knocks by Patel and Sudhakar Rao, but the interesting highlight of this match came on the last day, when Gavaskar batting in the middle order on that Sunday afternoon and fighting to save an outright defeat wanted to bat left handed….much to the shock of every one including the umpires…And as I can recall Sunny was booed off. As on several other occasions, Gavaskar left a very poor taste and despite all his runs, I never quite liked him.

5.Karnataka V Delhi 1982 Ranji finals –What a chase

This, to me, still is one of the most unforgettable chases in Ranji finals. I supported Karnataka and was happy after they had posted over 700 in their first innings. While Delhi had the best batting in Indian domestic cricket in those days(CPS, the two Amarnaths, the prolific Gurcharan Singh, Kirti Azad and the dashing Khanna), I was confident Karnataka would win especially with the presence of its double spin attack- Raghuram Bhat and Vijayakrishna. Delhi came back sensationally after having lost 8 wickets with still over 100 runs required.

Delhi showed why they were the best batting side of that time with Rakesh Shukla and Rajesh Peter putting on an unbroken century stand for the ninth wicket as they took the first innings lead. I listened through the final day and this partnership but it ended in disappointment as Karnataka lost. However, it was an inspirational partnership that I remembered for many years.

6.My famous cricket derby – SVPB v LMW

In the early 1980s, the LMW v SVPB match up was something I relished at the forest college ground in Coimbatore, the 1 ½ days super league matches. Ramakrishna Steel stood third those days.

SVPB had Peter Fernandez, NP Madhavan, M. Subramaniam( he is still playing in the Chennai league- 25 years after I first saw him there) and Nallaswamy in its ranks. In the mid 80s, SVPB emerged a much stronger team with players like Brijesh Patel, Sainath, and Robin Singh playing for them.

LMW had Kalyanasundaram-Kalli to his team mates- ( who I think is the only TN bowler to take a hat rick), Vaidynathan, Colaco, NS Ramesh and Natarajan.

Ramakrishna Steel had Rajendran as their best player- he was one of the most prolific batsmen in the league there.

I remember watching Kalli, lean and skinny, steam in on one Saturday afternoon on a wet pitch. He was a lovely bowler to watch and played in a very competitive spirit and yes he was quite quick. He was so aggressive that, on that afternoon, he pushed the umpires to start play while the two in the white coat and Peter Fernandez(SVPB captain) were not convinced that the pitch was fit to play.

While Kalli vs SVPB was one battle on the ground, there was another off the ground. Myself (a fiery SVPB supporter) vs Kalyanasundaram’s son(who also happened to be my classmate at school) and Vaidhyanathan’s son. They, for obvious reasons, were LMW faithfuls

Nirupama, Vaidhyanathan’s daughter (who later became quite a successful tennis player) used to come too with her brother and we used to play tennis ball cricket during the breaks.

Cricket Tales- 12 memorable cricket matches/moments on the Radio

My First Five years of Cricket on the Radio

I have been listening to cricket commentaries on the radio since 1978-79. I was such a crazy radio listener that even after the advent of live cricket on the TV, I continue to listen to commentaries on the radio. These include Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, Radio Pakistan, Radio Australia, BBC and of course our own All India Radio(AIR) .

Here’s a recollection of some of my favourite moments on the radio :

1.Tamil Commentary on Alvin Kallicharan’s 98 in 1979 Pongal test

My first recollections of listening to cricket on the radio date back to 1978-79 and to a weakened West Indies’ (WI’s main players were playing the Packer series in Australia) visit for a 6 test series in India. The traditional Pongal test in Madras had a unique offering for players- The TNCA had decided to reward players - those who scored a century or took 5 wkts.

I remember listening to the dismissal of Alvin Kallicharan the visiting captain just 2 runs short of a century off Venkat’s bowling. The sporting(and knowledgeable) crowd, that Chepauk was known for, felt sad for Kalli, as described by our Tamil commentators, among whom Ramamoorthy and ‘Expert’ Rangachari were my favourites. Kallicharan had had played a brilliant knock under pressure. My other favourite WI cricketer Hilary Anglo Gomes fought it out in the 2nd innings with 92. India won that test on a nerve wrecking day 4 to take the lead in that series.

Despite playing a 2nd string X1, the WI had fought tooth and nail in that series. A few new players were discovered in that series (Larry Gomes, Sylvestor Clarke, Vanburn Holder, Faoud Bacchus). Kallicharan had fought gallantly against a strong Indian team and led his rather raw team well, but with the return of the first team players, he lost his captaincy and shortly Kalli and Clarke went to South Africa on the rebel tour and never played for the Windies again.

2. David Gower’s double hundred -The English Summer of 1979 under Venkat

Later that same year, I listened to my first overseas cricket commentary -this time again on AIR.

Indians were visiting England in the 2nd half of the English Summer (after the World Cup disaster- India had even lost to Sri Lanka in WC 1979) under Venkataraghavan and we had our AIR team taking us through ball by ball (I think it was Suresh Saraiya and Ravi Chaturvedi) the entire series. The moments I remember distinctly on that tour was the emergence of a young David Gower with a double hundred in the first test of the series.
(Despite the advent of Harsha Bhogle in the 1990s as a radio commentator, my AIR favourites remain Suresh Saraiya and Ravi Chaturvedi for the excitement they brought me, at a time when I didn’t have TV at my home)

3. Karsan Ghavri’s 2 in 2 balls - Alan McGilvary and Radio Australia-1980-81-India in Australia

My earliest memories of Radio Australia date back to this series. I was greatly excited to wake up at 530am on Friday morning of the 1981 New Year Sydney test match-the first in the series… to listen to Alan McGilvary, Jim Maxwell and Dennis Compty along with experts from Norman O’Neil. I remember listening to every single ball of the Greg Chappell double hundred, to the Dennis Lillee vs Gavaskar fight, to Sandeep Patil’s brilliant knock and felling by Len Pascoe and to every ball on that final morning of the 3rd test when Kapil Dev bundled out a strong Aussie batting line up.

I particularly remember running home(10minutes at a stretch) at the ring of the lunch bell on the penultimate day of the Melbourne test to listen to the last few overs of day 4 when Karsan Ghavri removed John Dyson and Greg Chappell in successive balls. I also remember a class mate of mine-Subash(Chandra Bose)- who was also a big radio fan and we both discussed, that afternoon, the possibility of an India win the next day, especially with Greg Chappell gone.

From that year for the next 15 years or so, the mornings of November to February were spent with the little 1955 National Panasonic transistor. I listened to every single test played in Australia till Radio Australia finally stopped broadcasting to India in the mid/late 1990s…
(almost 20 years later, I had the opportunity to meet Jim Maxwell, Tim Lain and Mike Coward in Bombay on the eve of the India-Aus 2001 test)

4. Waking up at 4am to listen to the Wellington test in 1981

I was studying in Coimbatore then. It was my cousin’s wedding (She is currently in Dubai-interviewing - leading personalities - and writing for leading publications around the world) in Madras. There were about 10 of us(relatives) who took the night train to Madras. While all were asleep the next morning, I (9 year boy) was up by 4am to listen, on the Blue Mountain Express, to India’s tense run chase (Kapil had brought India back with a terrific 2nd innings bowling performance to bundle out NZ for 100 the previous day). Sandeep Patil seemed to keep India in the hunt for a while that morning but consistent Kiwi bowling helped them win by 50 odd runs. The test series was also of special interest to me as it was the series where Tirumalai Echambadi Srinivasan made his one and only test appearance. It was said that he had a great technique but hearsay has it that he didn’t get along well with Sunny Sir and that was the end of it for this TN lad.

5. Botham’s Ashes on TMS
My earliest memories of cricket on the BBC World Service goes back to this series-the famous Botham’s Ashes of 1981. Beginning that year, for the next 15 years till BBC stopped live TMS to India, I listened year on year to the TMS (Test Match Special) team including Peter Baxter’s ‘Old Test’ highlights during Lunch break( in which I had listened to some memorable test matches of 1960s and 1970s). I distinctly remember Dirk Wellham (one of my favourite Aussie players) on debut in the final test of the series struggle on 99, including being dropped , before finally reaching a debut hundred. He couldn’t keep up his debut performance and soon lost his test place.

6. Jeff Dujon’s debut as a batsman for the WI
I remember, vividly, listening to Radio Australia - the 1981-82 Australian Summer
The first test of the summer saw Pakistan, a team that included Javed, Majid, Wasim Raja and Imran in the middle order, being bundled out on a Saturday afternoon for 62 at Perth.

2nd half of that summer, I listened with great interest the emergence of Jeff Dujon(one who later was to become an all time great wicket keeper)- He started off his career as a batsman (Deryck Murray was the keeper in his debut test) with four successive knocks of 40 plus and a fifty in his fifth innings and I remember listening to each of these knocks. An elegant and stylish batsman and a gentleman cricketer, Jeffery Dujon was to become one of my favourite WI cricketer of the 1980s and 90s.

It was a well fought series and I enjoyed for the first time on the radio the battle between Lillee/Thommo - Richards/Lloyd and Roberts/Holding - Hughes/Greg Chappell- a series that ended 1-1.

7. Commentary in 3 languages- September 1982
My first memories of Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation was an unofficial series that a 2nd string Australia played there- John Dyson, Yallop etc.

Though played in Madras, I listened on SL BC Sri Lanka’s first ever test against India, the test where Roy Dias scored two splendid gems and Mendis hit a six to reach his hundred. The commentary was in English and Sinhala with Tamil commentator mentioning the score in Tamil at the end of every over-possibly the only country where commentary for a cricket match took place in 3 languages.

Those days SL BC used to broadcast a sports round every day between 345pm and 4pm called ‘Vilaayatu Arangam’. For many years, I used to listen to commentary on SL BC including domestic matches played in Sri Lanka.

8. A Great catch to end the Melbourne Test Match-December 1982
Botham’s heroics had helped England retain the Ashes a year and half ago. Now Aussies were at it in their home territory seeking revenge. England had a new captain in Bob Willis. Australia had taken a 2-0 lead after 3 tests and the two teams arrived in Melbourne for the boxing day test match. The test began on a Sunday.

After a very even first innings, Australia had taken a slender 3 run lead. England got off to a shaky start in the 2nd innings but crucial knocks late by Pringle and Taylor( he was 41 years when he played this knock) took England past 280 which seemed unlikely at one point, when Botham was out.

Set 292 to win, Australia looked well on its way with a 4th wicket century partnership between inform Hughes and David Hookes. But Australia suffered a sensational mid afternoon collapse on Day 4 with newcomer Norman Cowans ripping the middle order. With 70 odd left to get, Australia just had the gritty AB, who I admired right from his debut series against England in 1979-80 and Thommo(he was rarely fiery with the bat). It was an afternoon/evening of exciting cricket commentary on Radio Australia with the Aussies fighting back. Bob Willis, as the Radio Australia experts explained during that last session on day 4, adopted a very negative tactic giving away easy singles to Border, who had till that day struggled in the series with an highest score of 30 odd in the four tests.

Thommo somehow survived the day with Australia requiring about 30 to win on the final day but with just the last pair at the crease and with Allan Border still fighting to regain his form in the series.

The final morning was a tense affair. I was with the transistor sitting on the steps to the first floor at my house in Coimbatore. It looked like Aussies would do it that 5th morning with Border battling it out and managing his first half century of the series.

With 3 runs to win, Botham found Thomson’s edge and to his dismay found Tavare grasping the opportunity only to find Geoff Miller running behind to take the rebound behind Tavare. It left AB heartbroken. It was a classic catch to end the test match- a win that gave England some hope(of retaining the Ashes) going into the Sydney test.

It had been my best test match commentary at that time. I missed many a heart beat that 4th afternoon and the 5th morning(early morning in India).

9. TA Shekhar’s debut - on Radio Pakistan-January 1983

I was in Udumalpet – a small town about 70kms from Coimbatore – for the pongal vacation at my grand mother’s place when I first listened to Chisti Mujahid(with his cheeky voice) on Radio Pakistan, describing each ball of that record equaling 451 run partnership between Javed Miandad and Mudassar Nazar in the 4th test of that series including the moment when Imran most(in)famously declared on that 3rd morning.

Later that series, in fact the next test match, I remember listening to Tirumalai Ananthapillai Shekhar’s (he had actually been called in half way into the series- after I think Madan Lal was injured) misery in his debut test when the Indian slip cordon let him down. And he never quite recovered from that.

10. AIR in the West Indies-1982-83 –Through the night on the radio

It was a comeback series for Venkat. Two teenage Indian spinners went there too- LS and Maninder. AIR covered that series in two parts every day. Part 1 was live ball by ball till tea and then a full ball by ball recording of the last session from 530am the next morning.

We were in Sabina Park for the first Test-those days Sabina Park was a very quick wicket( and remember was home to ‘Whispering Death’. The first time I was listening to a series in the West Indies. All excited I would do all my home work and studies by 8pm to switch on the radio around 8pm. On all the days I would listen till tea and then wake up the next morning at 530am for the post tea session.

On day five of that test,(after assistance from rain the previous day) it looked like India were easily going to save the test match. But a fiery Andy Roberts spell, immediately after tea,- he took the last 5 Indian wickets- broke the middle and later half of the Indian batting. So here I was waking up at 530am to listen to the post tea session. A WI victory- Impossible I thought but with every description of Suresh Saraiya and Ravi Chaturvedi, I was losing hope… Richards smashed the Indian attack- a half century in 30 balls and despite a late Kapil burst, the West Indians had won scoring 170 plus in just 25 overs.

The 2nd test too was a heart break. After Sandhu ripped the heart of the WI batting, (3 wkts down for 1 run), Lloyd and Gomes struck centuries to master mind the Windies recovery.

11. World Cup 1983
I was in Hyderabad at the time of the World Cup- had just moved in from Coimbatore. In fact , I was on the train to Hyderabad the day Trevor Chappell slammed a century as Australia comfortably beat India. BBC did not broadcast all matches live- We could get only a few matches on the special frequency on the world service.

Listened to that famous World Cup win on BBC World Service with Farookh Engineer, one of the expert commentators, voting Cheeka as his MOM but as it turned out Jimmy got the away for his all round performance. That night on the BBC still stands etched in my memory.


12.Another fantastic WI run chase- 1984 Lords

One and half years after a slam bang final day to beat India at Sabina Park, the West Indians repeated the feat against England. The home team had had the better of the first four days at Lords and declared on the final morning on reaching 300.

That afternoon saw exhilarating batting performance from Gordon Greenidge who raced to an unbeaten double hundred as WI chase 340 plus on the final day in just over 60 overs. That afternoon, I could visualize every shot of Greenidge with Henry Blofeld’s racy description of Greenidge’s cuts and pulls.

Margazhi Trip


It was the winter month of December (the month of ‘Margazhi’ in the Tamil Calendar) – the time of the year when the traditional Tamil folks (especially the women) wake up early hours of the day to be at the temple for the recital of Tiruppavai.(Tiruppavai is a song comprising of 30 verses, in praise of the Lord, rendered by Andal, one of the 13 Vaishnavite-followers of Vishnu- saints).
I chose to visit Srivilliputhur*, the birth place of Andal, renowned for the Tiruppavai recital, to get a first hand feel of a special event I had only heard from my grand parents.I took the night train from Madras to Tirunelveli**, a town famous for Halwas(No trip to Tirunelveli is complete without a taste of the ‘Iruttu Kadai(dark shop) halwa’).
There are many pleasures of a train journey, one not so is of last minute passengers making a maddening rush to their compartment. And I found an alarming number this time around.After a quickish bath, I took a 45 minute bus drive to watch the sun rise at the sea shore temple of Subramanya at Tiruchendur(50kms South East of Tirunelveli).
A few hours at the beach and I continued my bus journey, onto 9 other temples called ‘ Nava Tirupathi’.(All of these temples are within 5-10kms of each other and are a must visit for any Tirunelveli visitor-Most of these are on the banks of Tirunelveli’s famous river-The Tamaraibarani).That night my dinner at Tirunelveli was all of 1/2 kg of Halwa, after which I took a 2 hour walk around the city, going through all the famous old streets of Tirunelveli including visiting the most famous saree shop of the town-The Pothy’s.
Tirunelveli is also famous for the round the clock road side eateries…. A walk down the railway station road after 11pm and you would find hundreds, sitting on small stools, having their ‘idlies - dosas with chutney – sambar’ for their dinner.As I usually do during my train trips, I stayed the night at the retiring room at the Tirunelveli station(This writer has a long term agreement with retiring rooms at all railway stations in Tamil Nadu and believes that retiring rooms are the best(and safest) place for overnight stay in TN, especially for travel freaks and for women travellers).
After a 2am wake up and bath the next morning, I took the first bus out of Tirunelveli for a 2 hour drive to Srivilliputhur.(For those not too familiar with transport facilities down South, TN has got by far the best moffusil bus transport service in the country in terms of connectivity, frequency and round the clock service-
All places in TN have 24 hour bus connectivity).
By 4am that morning (that was the time I reached my destination),the small temple town of Srivilliputhur was already buzzing with activity, with one bunch of young girls and boys running around to make their morning flower sale and another bunch for other pooja articles.For an hour, I was a witness to the loud musical recital of Tiruppavai (that was the purpose of my trip) by 15 plus temple priests, all clad in dhotis. Moved by this recital and wanting to understand more, I chatted up with the priests about the Tiruppavai and its significance, the unique way of chanting these songs and the visual song and dance enactment of the ‘Paasurams’(the 4000 divine songs/hymns of Vaishnavite Saints) that is rendered through the month of Margazhi at this temple by Araiyars(King of Songs).
As I dug deeper and deeper into the subject, questioning and probing the priests (the art of questioning and extracting information was put to full use that day), there were insights of the temple culture and traditions that dated back to 500 AD- art forms that were slowly vanishing in this fast paced world, artistes who were in dire straits with very little money to even feed their family and a temple song & dance service, once performed regularly in over 100 temples- now in just three- seeing a slow death.My chat lasted almost 6 hours (that would not be a surprise to those who know me well!!!) and I must confess that those were the best ‘hours’ I had spent in a long long time.
In those few hours, I truly transcended into another world- a world of peace and solitude.Following a story that I wrote that fortnight, the priest wrote in to me via the almost non-existent post card, that he had received very many enquiries about the revival of the traditional temple art form called ‘Araiyar Seva’ from across South India including funding contributions for the artistes.Three months hence, the educational requirements of the kids of this artist have been taken care of by a corporate chieftain, one who to this day prefers anonymity on this front.
A quiet early morning peace seeking temple trip had transformed into something quite unexpected- a discussion that resulted in gaining insights into less known facts about the temple culture of Tamil Nadu, culminating in contributions to the (financially) poor priests and the revival of the song and dance rendering of vedic hymns, a ritual that had been practised for over 1200 years.
By that evening, another bus trip had brought me to the temple town of Madurai. I spent an hour at the famous Meenakshi Amman Temple and by 9pm I was fast asleep in the night train I took back to Madras.
*Srivilliputhur is about 75kms south west of Madurai and is a very small town. Also, known for Milk Bedas
** Tirunelveli is about 700 kms from Madras and is a night’s journey from Madras (about 11 hours)- Another 100 kms down South from Tirunelveli and you would reach Kanyakumari, the southern tip of India
***Madurai was once the capital of the Pandya Kingdom and is about 500kms from Madras on the Madras- Kanyakumari route
+In the 1980s, Vaigai Express (Madras- Madurai super fast day express) was one of the fastest trains in South India, the ‘Deccan Queen’ of the South…