July 18, 2012

Indian cricket

RIP Suresh Saraiya

Cricinfo

Suresh Saraiya, the Indian radio commentator who covered cricket for more than four decades, has died aged 76 in Mumbai. On his blog, Siddhartha Vaidyanathan pays tribute.

For Indians of a certain generation, his voice was cricket’s voice. They clung on to his description of the day’s play, imitated his quirks – especially the English spoken in a distinctive Gujarati accent – and remembered him when they remembered India’s famous wins. After all it was Suresh bhai who had first brought them the great news.

Haresh Pandya, writing in Rediff, describes Saraiya as the "golden voice of Indian cricket".

As far as radio commentary in English was concerned, no one but Saraiya deserved the moniker, the Golden Voice of Indian Cricket, after the retirement of Anant Setalwad. He was one of the most natural and original of commentators. With his impressively articulate baritone, smooth delivery and distinct style, Saraiya commanded a large fan following across the country. Often he ran into strangers who identified him from his voice.

Saraiya worked hard in his commentary to provide the listener with much more than the state of the match, recollects Sudhir Vaidya, writing in cricketcountry.com.

Suresh’s commentary was very studied and meticulous. He never entered the commentary box without doing his homework. He used to maintain a register which had an assortment of facts and figures, something he used brilliantly while commentating. Whenever statisticians like me provided him relevant numbers, he would use them intelligently in his commentary.

One incident that I can never forget happened in a Bombay-Delhi Ranji Trophy match. Delhi had a player named Rajesh Peter. Suresh went up to him and asked him the story behind the name. He then shared it in his commentary. It’s a reflection of his studious approach to the job. He believed he should provide the listeners with much more information than what was happening on the field of play.

Clayton Murzello, writing in Mid-day, pays tribute to Saraiya, saying the radio commentary had lost a "heavyweight".

Celebrated commentator Harsha Bhogle, whose career Saraiya was glad to see blossom, was quick to say on Twitter: “I worked with so many commentators - few with his desire and preparation.” His innings was a rewarding one and he always believed in taking the rough with the smooth.

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