Reading Comprehension 054


EVEN BEFORE THE ADVENT OF TV telecasts, a tour of England by an Indian cricket team always had enormous appeal for the fans back home. The BBC radio commentary enabled the Indian fan to follow the post-lunch play after returning from work. The feel of the English summer game being played against the backdrop of everyday life was vividly conveyed by commentators like Brian Johnstone: “And as Kapil Dev runs into bowl, another train pulls out of Warwick Station.” Apart from hearing the cricket, you could read it in the morning newspaper. There were the likes of The Times of India cricket correspondent K N Prabhu who was never shy of reminding the Indian fan that the summer game in England was played at venues steeped in history.

And then there was the swashbuckling Aussie all-rounder turned correspondent Keith Miller whose introduction to his report on India creating history by winning its first series in England in the summer of 1971 at the Oval is still fresh in the memories of hard-boiled cricket fans: “India, you finally did it! But, phew, what a nerve-tingling, nail-biting affair!” .Miller went on to mix metaphors while writing about leg-spinner chandrashekar’s deliveries “snaking off the pitch like greased lightning” as he won the Oval Test for India. The low point would have to punch magazine’s cartoon on India’s score of 42 all out in the Lord’s Test in the 1974 tour where a female spectator tells her hubby.”You should have gone to the loo before we left home. The entire Indian second innings is over!” Once the India-England Test series starts in July, we will be treated to the telecast on ESPN and the commentary by legends like Botham, Gower, Holding and Gavaskar, backed by Hussain and Shastri. Each time fast bowler Harmison’s deliveries go so far down the legside that they cannot be collected by diving wicket-keeper Prior, Gower is liable to quip that “The good old Harmy radar is not quite working today!” There could be a few humorous asides on the BCCI’s inability to find a coach for the Indian team. However, even the call-a-spade-a shovel Botham could refrain from pointing out the only reason why the BCCI chose the 72-year-old Chandu Borde at the last minute as the manager for the Indian tour was because c K Nayudu(born on October31, 1895) and DB Deodhar (January 14, 1892) were not around!

You could even call the commentary the icing on the cake in terms of the appeal the game has for millions, especially in the country which Nirad G Chaudhuri once termed as “the Continent of Circe”. Once the England-India Test series starts, walk down any Indian road - high street or low - and you will find quite a few people rooted on the pavement and looking intently through the shop window of an electronic store which has rows of TVs stacked one on top of the other, all tuned in to the live cricketing action. It is the kind of vision which could have inspired Simon & Garfunkel to sing. “And in the naked light I saw Ten thousand people, even more People talking without speaking, /People listening without hearing,/People writing songs that voices never share. And no one dare/Disturb the sound of silence.”


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