January 23, 2008

Wake up, tune in

On the joys of watching cricket in Australia - both at the ground and at the crack of dawn on TV in India
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It's more fun Down Under © Getty Images

Remember the bikinis? When I think now of what I remember most about first watching cricket played in Australia, it seems to be the bikinis. It was over February and March 1985, the Benson and Hedges World Championship of Cricket, and it was the first time I remember watching cricket telecast from a country I defined at the time solely by its cricket team and cricket grounds.

The tournament was thrilling. India won, beating Pakistan in a day-night final on March 10. Ravi Shastri emerged as champion of champions and took the team on a ride around the MCG in the Audi that was his prize. Such bliss. For me, a teenager watching in the living room of our south Kolkata home, in a not-so-liberal, not-at-all liberalised India, seeing a car like the Audi -- and the fact that an Indian sporting hero could now possess it -- was a thrill. But the sight of all those toned female bodies and the Channel 9 cameras lingering over them in their jokey, nudge-nudge-wink-wink slow tracks was a far bigger, almost illicit, thrill.

Of course, there was the magnificent Channel 9 coverage. A whole generation of Indian cricket fans growing up in the 1970s had never ever seen anything like that before. Used - and that only just - to Doordarshan's stodgy, boring, shot-from-one-angle stuff and execrable commentary, the manner in which cricket could be brought alive on TV, made spectator-friendly, participatory and exciting was a revelation. Angles, cameras, experts, debates, urgency, the details: how I loved it. It seemed like justification for being a fan.

It was appropriate, perhaps, that in that spring of 1985, more and more middle-class Indian families were buying colour TV sets. My parents had bought one the previous year, but in my memory somehow the images in colour of that tournament from Australia are the first I have of watching colour TV in India.

Then there was the commentary. I had grown up with Test Match Special, broadcast from England on short-wave radio, and from it had formed a particular - and peculiar - idea of English commentators and English cricket grounds. On TV from Australia, it was all so different - the accents certainly were. Before the season was over, Bill Lawry and Keith Stackpole and the rest of the Channel 9 team had become if not quite as familiar, at least almost as treasured companions as Brian Johnston and Chris Martin-Jenkins from TMS; but the grounds, the atmosphere, the crowds seemed unrecognisable from what I had first imagined - and then seen during the 1983 Prudential Cup - of cricket played in England. In Australia, it appeared to me, there was more vibrancy, there was more celebration; it was far more of a riotous cavalcade of colour, delight and enjoyment.

Years later when I went to Australia and watched cricket at the grounds, I realised that these early impressions, gleaned from TV, were accurate. Having grown up watching cricket in India and trying to squeeze my bum into three square inches of concrete and queuing for water and food and the toilet, which always stank, I found that watching cricket at an Australian ground was liberating: it was as much fun as I had imagined; it was an inclusive, comfortable, leisurely, unrestrained picnic, a celebration as much of the game we adore as of the white-hot, glorious days of the southern summer.

 
 
Years later when I went to Australia and watched cricket at the grounds, I realised that these early impressions, gleaned from TV, were accurate. Having grown up watching cricket in India and trying to squeeze my bum into three square inches of concrete and queuing for water and food and the toilet, which always stank, I found that watching cricket at an Australian ground was liberating
 

I realised something else when I watched cricket at Australian grounds. There are as many boors there as there are at, say, Indian cricket grounds. But more Australian spectators show respect for top-class players from the opposition than people do in India. Every time Sachin Tendulkar walked out to bat at an Australian ground, I discovered, he was given a standing ovation. Australian fans treated VVS Laxman, who has softly scythed through the Australian bowling on more occasions than perhaps any other batsman from the subcontinent, like a deity. I don't think I would see that sort of response from Indian spectators in India to the heroics of Matthew Hayden or Ricky Ponting or Brett Lee or Glenn McGrath.

I have watched this riveting ongoing series on TV at my Mumbai home. (And I already feel sort of nostalgic, regretting the fact that the Test series will be over after the Adelaide game.) I no longer find the bikinis as much of a novelty as I used to. Also, frankly, not half as much of an attraction. And with the technical sophistication in the coverage of cricket in India now about world-class, Channel 9 doesn't seem that different any longer. In any case, I don't watch Channel 9 at home but Star Cricket.

A lot has changed. But there is one thing that is common even now to my first experiences of watching cricket in Australia: the unrivalled pleasure of getting up in the morning to watch the game. Could anything be better, quite so unsullied an enjoyment? If I am watching in India, matches in the Caribbean go on till early in the morning. A lot of the cricket played in England - and certainly the start of a day of Test cricket, especially the first session of a Test, the one that I find has unique appeal - is during working hours. With cricket in Australia, I am fine. I go to sleep in delicious anticipation, looking forward to waking up and watching. I start the day with the game, mind uncluttered, nothing having yet happened to ruin my day or mood.

I go to bed with the remote on my bedside table. Wake up and smell the coffee? No, wake up and watch the cricket. It's much more invigorating.

Soumya Bhattacharya is the author of the acclaimed memoir, You Must Like Cricket? He is the deputy editor of Hindustan Times in Mumbai

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Prakash_G on January 25, 2008, 23:43 GMT

    Its refreshing to see an article and the subsequent comments not being biased and falling into familiar nationalistic lines! The article itself is fascination since so many of us in India can relate to it..the crisp, clear summer air in the beautiful Aussie stadiums on TV compared to the cold and dark early winter morning outside the window in India are in such clear contrast that we take a clear fancy to the cricket played there.

    With the aspect of Indian spectators: I think they are as cricket savvy if not more than the some of the other countries especially when it comes to appreciating the finer nuances of the game but the way they react to the home team defeat is disappointing. It seems to be a peculiar south asian phenomenon where the spectators start to leave the stadium once they know their team is losing. (I have seen this in Pakistani stadia as well, but I don't know about Sri Lanka)

  • sambhay on January 25, 2008, 21:27 GMT

    Such a refreshingly reminiscing article amongst myriad of corruption. Wonderful. I am an Indian and when the author says "I don't think I would see that sort of response from Indian spectators in India to the heroics of Hayden or Ponting or Brett Lee or McGrath"--- unfortunately I agree. Part of the reason being most in India superstitiously follow cricket with unintelligent passion. So they cannot analyze the art of the game. Its merely because of peer pressure and media frenzy and a billion heads most of which consider Ponting, Hayden and even the classically harmless Inzamam as enemies, that there is a shamefully dead silence when the opposition cracks a delectable boundary..... Air heads!!!

  • Sri_chicago on January 25, 2008, 21:03 GMT

    Thanks for a wonderfully nostalgic article. Having myself experienced everything that you reminisce and rejoice about, I truly identify with your observations. If TMS was special, ABC radio with Jim Maxwell and Alan Mcgilvray was lively. How i wish those days could return! Then Channel 9 elevated us to hitherto unimagined levels of enjoyment. It is such a thrill to be able to watch the same old Channel 9 here in Chicago, where I live today. The matchless Bill Lawry, the shrewd and intuitive Ian Chappell, the wonderfully articulate Mark Nicholas, the modern Mike Brearley (Tubby Taylor) and the effervescent Michael Slater all contribute to a relaxing evening in a way no other vocation or pastime can. I am so blessed, so lucky to be a cricket lover! Also totally agree about the pleasure of watching cricket live at a ground outside India. Though never in Australia I was lucky enuf to do so in SA and in England and can say every true indian cricket fan deserves to experience that.

  • mvinayakam on January 25, 2008, 19:27 GMT

    Aaah, you have made me nostalgic. I still remember waking up at 5am as a ten year old and seeing Shastri making a sliding stop. The style of presentation has hooked me to cricket for life. Amongst the current Indian broadcasters, Star Cricket has the most decent ones. Harsha is one of the best. There might be an Indian slant but at least the conversations are pretty decent. The less said about Sony / Zee / Ten Sports.

  • nelrod03 on January 25, 2008, 19:16 GMT

    For those of us who grew up in the 70's & 80's we had Doordarshan showing us the video highlights Test matches, days later after the match was completed. And yes, on those Black/blue white tv sets. Later on we get 10 advetr. on Doordarshan even though the over had started & we missed wickets & good shots. Thanks to Star tv, TEN sports, since the 90's we were able to see much more cricket. And, as usual Doordarshan's coverage sucked even for other sports.

    BBC has stopped cricket on shotwave since operating costs were mounting. In those days we also had to put up with constant jarring inturruptions from Radio Moscow, while listening to Radio Australia cricket. And yes, Radio Australia would remind us...this frequency is closing, to continue switch to another on the 31mb, and if you had a digital radio, fine otherwise, weak signal.

    Nowadays just have to do with cricket from UK during the summer where TMS gives us online, otherwise, $20/- from Cricket Australia website.

  • gardaeh on January 25, 2008, 18:46 GMT

    It's funny...when I lived in India, I used to like watching cricket in Australia because I could get in a bunch of viewing before school or work. I now live in the US, in the northwest and games in Australia are the only ones I can follow (on CricInfo)for the entire duration of a day's play. Most games usually startwhen I'm getting off work and finish so that I get decent sleep. My best cricket memories are listening to the ABC and BBC TMS commentary teams on my beat up short wave radio...

  • Giridhar23 on January 25, 2008, 15:42 GMT

    I started watching cricket from 1994-95 as a grown up kid . Ever since then I always enjoyed watching cricket series played in Australia mostly because I like the grounds , the commentary from Bill Lawry, Geoffrey BoyCott, Tony Greg, Michael Holding, the Aussie fans who enjoy cricket, players diving on those lush green grounds, the standing ovation for a batsmen (not particulary Australian )with a century . It was a pleasant feeling for me.

  • xique--xique on January 25, 2008, 10:29 GMT

    Woah, as an Australian I'm shocked at the platitudes being heaped on the channel 9 team! Here in Australia many of us find them wholly lacklustre and cliche. In fact a widely practiced policy throughout homes in Australia is turning the telly mute and tunin into the quintessential charm of the 702 ABC radio team. Here is where you'll find real insight, opinion and wit in an Aussie dialect.

    ps I should also add that here in Australia we can not fathom how India fails to recognise the genius of VVS Laxman. Who else has so much time? Who else has so many shots?

  • ottofister on January 25, 2008, 10:13 GMT

    It's funny - As an Aussie I get the same kind of excitment watching cricket in India and England. In India the constant noise levels are amazing, as is the deafening silences when an Indian wicket falls. England has that old fashioned 'home of cricket' appeal along with some great little grounds and perfect outfields. My favourite though was watching cricket in the West Indies in the late 80's early 90's, the sounds of the carnival, the dodgy cameras (I swear the frame rate was about half of modern day camera's), and even the fact that I was staying up way too late were all part of it - such a shame the way cricket has gone over there.

  • Bapi on January 25, 2008, 8:58 GMT

    Thanks for a nice article. Definitly Channel 9 is much more superior in quality than other broadcaster. I think australian stadium also adds to the plesant viewing. As far as the crowd response for good cricket is concerned, I think England crowd much better than australian. But still australian better than Indian crowd as far as prasing good cricket is concerned.

  • Prakash_G on January 25, 2008, 23:43 GMT

    Its refreshing to see an article and the subsequent comments not being biased and falling into familiar nationalistic lines! The article itself is fascination since so many of us in India can relate to it..the crisp, clear summer air in the beautiful Aussie stadiums on TV compared to the cold and dark early winter morning outside the window in India are in such clear contrast that we take a clear fancy to the cricket played there.

    With the aspect of Indian spectators: I think they are as cricket savvy if not more than the some of the other countries especially when it comes to appreciating the finer nuances of the game but the way they react to the home team defeat is disappointing. It seems to be a peculiar south asian phenomenon where the spectators start to leave the stadium once they know their team is losing. (I have seen this in Pakistani stadia as well, but I don't know about Sri Lanka)

  • sambhay on January 25, 2008, 21:27 GMT

    Such a refreshingly reminiscing article amongst myriad of corruption. Wonderful. I am an Indian and when the author says "I don't think I would see that sort of response from Indian spectators in India to the heroics of Hayden or Ponting or Brett Lee or McGrath"--- unfortunately I agree. Part of the reason being most in India superstitiously follow cricket with unintelligent passion. So they cannot analyze the art of the game. Its merely because of peer pressure and media frenzy and a billion heads most of which consider Ponting, Hayden and even the classically harmless Inzamam as enemies, that there is a shamefully dead silence when the opposition cracks a delectable boundary..... Air heads!!!

  • Sri_chicago on January 25, 2008, 21:03 GMT

    Thanks for a wonderfully nostalgic article. Having myself experienced everything that you reminisce and rejoice about, I truly identify with your observations. If TMS was special, ABC radio with Jim Maxwell and Alan Mcgilvray was lively. How i wish those days could return! Then Channel 9 elevated us to hitherto unimagined levels of enjoyment. It is such a thrill to be able to watch the same old Channel 9 here in Chicago, where I live today. The matchless Bill Lawry, the shrewd and intuitive Ian Chappell, the wonderfully articulate Mark Nicholas, the modern Mike Brearley (Tubby Taylor) and the effervescent Michael Slater all contribute to a relaxing evening in a way no other vocation or pastime can. I am so blessed, so lucky to be a cricket lover! Also totally agree about the pleasure of watching cricket live at a ground outside India. Though never in Australia I was lucky enuf to do so in SA and in England and can say every true indian cricket fan deserves to experience that.

  • mvinayakam on January 25, 2008, 19:27 GMT

    Aaah, you have made me nostalgic. I still remember waking up at 5am as a ten year old and seeing Shastri making a sliding stop. The style of presentation has hooked me to cricket for life. Amongst the current Indian broadcasters, Star Cricket has the most decent ones. Harsha is one of the best. There might be an Indian slant but at least the conversations are pretty decent. The less said about Sony / Zee / Ten Sports.

  • nelrod03 on January 25, 2008, 19:16 GMT

    For those of us who grew up in the 70's & 80's we had Doordarshan showing us the video highlights Test matches, days later after the match was completed. And yes, on those Black/blue white tv sets. Later on we get 10 advetr. on Doordarshan even though the over had started & we missed wickets & good shots. Thanks to Star tv, TEN sports, since the 90's we were able to see much more cricket. And, as usual Doordarshan's coverage sucked even for other sports.

    BBC has stopped cricket on shotwave since operating costs were mounting. In those days we also had to put up with constant jarring inturruptions from Radio Moscow, while listening to Radio Australia cricket. And yes, Radio Australia would remind us...this frequency is closing, to continue switch to another on the 31mb, and if you had a digital radio, fine otherwise, weak signal.

    Nowadays just have to do with cricket from UK during the summer where TMS gives us online, otherwise, $20/- from Cricket Australia website.

  • gardaeh on January 25, 2008, 18:46 GMT

    It's funny...when I lived in India, I used to like watching cricket in Australia because I could get in a bunch of viewing before school or work. I now live in the US, in the northwest and games in Australia are the only ones I can follow (on CricInfo)for the entire duration of a day's play. Most games usually startwhen I'm getting off work and finish so that I get decent sleep. My best cricket memories are listening to the ABC and BBC TMS commentary teams on my beat up short wave radio...

  • Giridhar23 on January 25, 2008, 15:42 GMT

    I started watching cricket from 1994-95 as a grown up kid . Ever since then I always enjoyed watching cricket series played in Australia mostly because I like the grounds , the commentary from Bill Lawry, Geoffrey BoyCott, Tony Greg, Michael Holding, the Aussie fans who enjoy cricket, players diving on those lush green grounds, the standing ovation for a batsmen (not particulary Australian )with a century . It was a pleasant feeling for me.

  • xique--xique on January 25, 2008, 10:29 GMT

    Woah, as an Australian I'm shocked at the platitudes being heaped on the channel 9 team! Here in Australia many of us find them wholly lacklustre and cliche. In fact a widely practiced policy throughout homes in Australia is turning the telly mute and tunin into the quintessential charm of the 702 ABC radio team. Here is where you'll find real insight, opinion and wit in an Aussie dialect.

    ps I should also add that here in Australia we can not fathom how India fails to recognise the genius of VVS Laxman. Who else has so much time? Who else has so many shots?

  • ottofister on January 25, 2008, 10:13 GMT

    It's funny - As an Aussie I get the same kind of excitment watching cricket in India and England. In India the constant noise levels are amazing, as is the deafening silences when an Indian wicket falls. England has that old fashioned 'home of cricket' appeal along with some great little grounds and perfect outfields. My favourite though was watching cricket in the West Indies in the late 80's early 90's, the sounds of the carnival, the dodgy cameras (I swear the frame rate was about half of modern day camera's), and even the fact that I was staying up way too late were all part of it - such a shame the way cricket has gone over there.

  • Bapi on January 25, 2008, 8:58 GMT

    Thanks for a nice article. Definitly Channel 9 is much more superior in quality than other broadcaster. I think australian stadium also adds to the plesant viewing. As far as the crowd response for good cricket is concerned, I think England crowd much better than australian. But still australian better than Indian crowd as far as prasing good cricket is concerned.

  • nkkuruppal on January 25, 2008, 8:37 GMT

    Good Write up by you Mr. Soumya Bhattacharya. It seems to echo my views as well. Like you I also had the first taste of watching live cricke from Australia in that golden year of 1985 when Gavaskar led our side quite impeccably. I was also very fond of listening to TMS on BBC in the evenings with BJ,CMJ,HB,DM,FST and TEB among my favourites. Hence there is some nostalgia when you thru' your article take us back to those heady days. Good stuff. Hats off to you

    Nanda Kishore Chennai

  • luks on January 25, 2008, 6:35 GMT

    There is one thing better - to be able to come back from work and watch the day's play all evening thru into the night before sleeping (in the US time zone) :) The australian stadia are simply awesome.

  • mukund111 on January 25, 2008, 6:06 GMT

    Sowmya..you are spot on abt watching cricket in australia....the early mornings and channel 9.....oh..to hear a Bill lawry or a Tony Greig appreciate a tendulkar straight drive...that would certainly wake you up that early in the morning.....it's almost like watching cricket and reading a book both at the same time..Not to forget Ian Chappell and Richie benaud for their wondergul insights and anecdotes from the past.even the newer entrants to channel 9 like Mark Taylor,Ian healy and Mark Nicholas are very good.....star cricket brings to it dour commentary and boring coverage..except for harsha bhogle and the fact that they render an indian perspective star cricket's coverage is inferior to channel 9 and we have most certainly been denied....

  • 17_Stilladream on January 25, 2008, 6:00 GMT

    As an Australian, I really enjoyed your article. However I have enjoyed watching cricket from India in a Nepalese bar and sat up on the fort at Galle with my new wife and watched a club match on the Post Tsunami Galle ground. I think because it is different to what I am used to that I enjoy it so much. It is wonderful that cricket is played across a broad spectrum of cultures.

  • colorado on January 25, 2008, 0:11 GMT

    with all the noise and clutter surrounding media coverage of cricket it is easy to forget the simple things that got me hooked. thank you for the reminder.

  • ThirdSlip on January 24, 2008, 23:35 GMT

    1992, 5 AM, the crystal clear (as clear as those days of CRT technology permitted) vision of McDermott bowling to Tendulkar on a glistening wicket. Gavaskar, Boycott and Holding in the commentary box. As the game dulls a bit and the camera pans to a section of the crowd where a tree in the lawn audience comes on the screen, Boycott turns to Holding "Michael, what tree is that?". Michael Holding in a deadpan monotone "Geoff, that is a green tree". Classic. Cricket in Australia gets the heart pulsing just a little bit faster. The obscenely green grounds with the light and dark swathes, fielders raising their athleticism a notch higher on those lush grounds, the bright sunshine and the bouncy pitches. Dean Jones' signature Oakleys as he made beach-volleyballesque leaps at gully and the langorous drone of the sharp commentary. In Australia, cricket is sexy. Kerry Packer, RIP.

  • JM__ on January 24, 2008, 23:27 GMT

    Regarding "I don't think I would see that sort of response from Indian spectators in India to the heroics of Hayden or Ponting or Brett Lee or McGrath" (as given by Aussies to Laxman, Tendulkar), I dont think Hayden, Ponting and McGrath come anywhere close to mannerisms and grace of Tendulkar and Laxman!

    We have seen enough of Ponting in the current series; Indians know about McGrath's 'spitting at batsman' incident and the famous spat with Ramnaresh Sarwan.

    Enough said!

  • mac9ue on January 24, 2008, 22:25 GMT

    Soumya, you reminded me of my school days :-) I remember sometimes waking up half an hour late when India was touring Australia and my first coherent thoughts from the bed to the TV being "Please, let Sachin be not out!". That said, I have watched this series on both Channel 9 and Star Cricket. As far as technical quality is concerned, it has to be identical because Star is just using Channel 9's feed, only the wrapper commentary and presentation are their own. And there, I think there is still a wide gulf in quality. The historical background, insights into the captaincy like field placements and personal anecdotes that Channel 9's team provides is missing in the India-based productions. One aspect where they match up well, though, is the amount of blatant bias both the commentary desks display towards their "own" teams :-)

  • DineshIyer on January 24, 2008, 22:21 GMT

    I think Channel 9 coverage is much more technically superior. I feel that the commentary on Channel 9 to be much better. Maybe they are not always unbiased but neither are Ravi Shastri or Sunny Gavaskar. Nothing beats the enthusiasm of Bill Lawry, Tony Greig and Mark Nicholas and the mastery of Richie Benaud. As for technology - Super Slo-Mo and my favourite HOT SPOT!! Star Cricket has the beehive and bowling pitch map which are more of coaching tools rather than for the audience! Not to mention the goofy animations! Channel 9 has a simple animation for a DUCK! Star Cricket ... please do something to improve ur coverage!!!

  • Grudge.Kid on January 24, 2008, 22:01 GMT

    Yup. I too am absolutely dissapointed that this is the last test of the series. I only wish the first two tests were as brilliant as the last two. I miss waking up to watch Sachin take on the Australians, I can't go as far back as may be some of because, my first memory of cricket would Sachin batting. I miss it, but it is now slightly different, coz I am in the US and I go home from work and turn on my laptop to see the match. Can't wait for the ODIs. My first memory of ODI should be Sachin and Sourav sharing a 100 run partnership match after match.

  • CBChhaya on January 24, 2008, 20:15 GMT

    I guess one of the other thrills of watching cricket in Australia is that the cricket has always been of the highest quality and played aggressively. The grounds are second to none and the voice of Bill Lawry and Richie Benaud expressing the sort of enthusiasm you'd find in a nervy kid at his first match in a stadium is simply unparalleled. Of late, the Indian team has also started performing very well abroad. This, coupled with the generally bouncier and livelier pitches, creates the right kind of environment to make waking up at 4:30 in the morning for an MCG or SCG test an absolute thrill. I am in New York now but derive the same kind of pleasure watching the match till 3 or 4 in the morning after the day's work. And it's not only the Indian team. Watching the Ashes there (apart from the actual cricket :-) ) is as much fun, although I seriously hope more cricket series are played as aggressively and on similar pitches as the the ongoing one. Sometimes, it's worth being a crazy fan!!

  • Ramen on January 24, 2008, 20:12 GMT

    Soumya, I liked the current piece except for the region where you talk about Indian cricket watching facilities. No harm in praising somebody, but why draw a contrast with poorer resources of home? Hey man, I have also squeezed my bum into three square inches of concrete and have queued for water, food and the toilet, which has stank few times (No, NOT always!). Did not take away anything from my simple cricketing pleasures of watching Sachin bowl that last over to South Africa or Anil Kumble skillet-ing 6 West Indians for 12 runs. Every coin has 2 sides. Australian grounds are very pretty and cute and bikinied for teenagers like you of 1985, but a full Eden Gardens or Chinnaswamy has a roar that can not be duplicated by picnic-able cricket grounds. So, next time you decide to write such an engaging piece just take & talk the charm, kiss the good and walk along leaving the not-so-pleasantries behind.

  • CurrynOz on January 24, 2008, 14:45 GMT

    Hello Soumya,

    You are spot on particularily with crowd behaviours in India. Admittedly India cricket watching crowds are one of most unsporting,rude and boorish crowds in the world.We rarely appreciate great performances by visting teams. I can only think of one example: Chennai-1999 against Pakistanis.

    Even in Australia or Europe our guys with in the crowd shout and behave like illiterates. For godsakes they should stop chanting things like Bharat Mata ki Jay in cricket matches.Though nothing wrong with it it sounds jingoistic.

    @ManasMisra Matthew Hayden etc. have been described as arrogant by you. But I don't consider arrongance to be a vice. If are the best then nothing wrong in flaunting it. They deserve to act arrogant. They simply go about thrashing everything thing in their sight most of the times. Personally I feel their arrogance drives them to maintain high standards of performance they have.

    Ruchit.

  • Uppi on January 24, 2008, 11:50 GMT

    Spot on man. Getting up early in the morning for cricket in Australia was and still is one great pelassure. In 1985, you had to get up in time or Roger Binny would have taken 3 wickets! Of course, matches have to be competitve and teams on this and the previous tour have ensured just that!

  • ManasMishra on January 24, 2008, 11:33 GMT

    While complaining that Indian crowd don't respect foreign players, you are forgetting to take into consideration the attitude of those players as well. The four Aussie names you have mentioned are no doubt fine cricketers, but they are highly arrogant, rude and even condescending towards Indian fans/cricketers.

    Do you think if a person like Sreesanth, by some miracle, becomes a great bowler, would ever be shown the same respect by the Australian crowd? Whereas don't forget the admiration Indian crowd had for Lara and Inzzi.

  • Supratik on January 24, 2008, 11:16 GMT

    Wonderful trip down memory lane. Would like to add another bit here which i particularly enjoyed with tests in Australia. Till 1992 before live TV came in, it was the radio commentary on ABC which was as engaging as the TMS with the legendary Alan McGilvray, Jim Maxwell and co. Specially since it would be winters in North India and from under the blanket you could just switch on your Philips 4 Band Radio, which was configured to the right frequency the previous night. One didn't have to get up and go to the living room to switch on the TV, like now!

  • LukeTheDuke on January 24, 2008, 8:59 GMT

    Wonderful, really wonderful.. This article conveys everything what I feel while watching cricket telecast from Australia, but one thing where I differ is, I still feel attracted to those bikini babes ;). But due to star cricket telecast I am not getting a chance to hear channel 9 commentary team.Listening to Richie Benaud, Bill Lawry, or Marck Nicholos is a great pleasure in itself... I miss them..

  • THEEXPERT on January 24, 2008, 8:43 GMT

    Spot on Observations by the writer. The joy of getting up in the morning to watch a duel between Sachin Tendulkar and McGrath or Warne(during the earlier tours) was simply unparalleled. Moreover, watching cricket played on large lush green outfields in clean, colorful cricket stadiums has a strange charm to it which in my opinion the Indian grounds can sadly never capture. Lastly, your point about Aussie spectators showing respect to opposition cricketers is also spot on. It really shows the sporty nature of the Australians and how they appreciate good performances. Unfortunately, here too we lack behind. One rarely sees spectators acknowledging a good performance leave alone acknowledging a great cricketer. Few little things we can learn from others.

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  • THEEXPERT on January 24, 2008, 8:43 GMT

    Spot on Observations by the writer. The joy of getting up in the morning to watch a duel between Sachin Tendulkar and McGrath or Warne(during the earlier tours) was simply unparalleled. Moreover, watching cricket played on large lush green outfields in clean, colorful cricket stadiums has a strange charm to it which in my opinion the Indian grounds can sadly never capture. Lastly, your point about Aussie spectators showing respect to opposition cricketers is also spot on. It really shows the sporty nature of the Australians and how they appreciate good performances. Unfortunately, here too we lack behind. One rarely sees spectators acknowledging a good performance leave alone acknowledging a great cricketer. Few little things we can learn from others.

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  • LukeTheDuke on January 24, 2008, 8:59 GMT

    Wonderful, really wonderful.. This article conveys everything what I feel while watching cricket telecast from Australia, but one thing where I differ is, I still feel attracted to those bikini babes ;). But due to star cricket telecast I am not getting a chance to hear channel 9 commentary team.Listening to Richie Benaud, Bill Lawry, or Marck Nicholos is a great pleasure in itself... I miss them..

  • Supratik on January 24, 2008, 11:16 GMT

    Wonderful trip down memory lane. Would like to add another bit here which i particularly enjoyed with tests in Australia. Till 1992 before live TV came in, it was the radio commentary on ABC which was as engaging as the TMS with the legendary Alan McGilvray, Jim Maxwell and co. Specially since it would be winters in North India and from under the blanket you could just switch on your Philips 4 Band Radio, which was configured to the right frequency the previous night. One didn't have to get up and go to the living room to switch on the TV, like now!

  • ManasMishra on January 24, 2008, 11:33 GMT

    While complaining that Indian crowd don't respect foreign players, you are forgetting to take into consideration the attitude of those players as well. The four Aussie names you have mentioned are no doubt fine cricketers, but they are highly arrogant, rude and even condescending towards Indian fans/cricketers.

    Do you think if a person like Sreesanth, by some miracle, becomes a great bowler, would ever be shown the same respect by the Australian crowd? Whereas don't forget the admiration Indian crowd had for Lara and Inzzi.

  • Uppi on January 24, 2008, 11:50 GMT

    Spot on man. Getting up early in the morning for cricket in Australia was and still is one great pelassure. In 1985, you had to get up in time or Roger Binny would have taken 3 wickets! Of course, matches have to be competitve and teams on this and the previous tour have ensured just that!

  • CurrynOz on January 24, 2008, 14:45 GMT

    Hello Soumya,

    You are spot on particularily with crowd behaviours in India. Admittedly India cricket watching crowds are one of most unsporting,rude and boorish crowds in the world.We rarely appreciate great performances by visting teams. I can only think of one example: Chennai-1999 against Pakistanis.

    Even in Australia or Europe our guys with in the crowd shout and behave like illiterates. For godsakes they should stop chanting things like Bharat Mata ki Jay in cricket matches.Though nothing wrong with it it sounds jingoistic.

    @ManasMisra Matthew Hayden etc. have been described as arrogant by you. But I don't consider arrongance to be a vice. If are the best then nothing wrong in flaunting it. They deserve to act arrogant. They simply go about thrashing everything thing in their sight most of the times. Personally I feel their arrogance drives them to maintain high standards of performance they have.

    Ruchit.

  • Ramen on January 24, 2008, 20:12 GMT

    Soumya, I liked the current piece except for the region where you talk about Indian cricket watching facilities. No harm in praising somebody, but why draw a contrast with poorer resources of home? Hey man, I have also squeezed my bum into three square inches of concrete and have queued for water, food and the toilet, which has stank few times (No, NOT always!). Did not take away anything from my simple cricketing pleasures of watching Sachin bowl that last over to South Africa or Anil Kumble skillet-ing 6 West Indians for 12 runs. Every coin has 2 sides. Australian grounds are very pretty and cute and bikinied for teenagers like you of 1985, but a full Eden Gardens or Chinnaswamy has a roar that can not be duplicated by picnic-able cricket grounds. So, next time you decide to write such an engaging piece just take & talk the charm, kiss the good and walk along leaving the not-so-pleasantries behind.

  • CBChhaya on January 24, 2008, 20:15 GMT

    I guess one of the other thrills of watching cricket in Australia is that the cricket has always been of the highest quality and played aggressively. The grounds are second to none and the voice of Bill Lawry and Richie Benaud expressing the sort of enthusiasm you'd find in a nervy kid at his first match in a stadium is simply unparalleled. Of late, the Indian team has also started performing very well abroad. This, coupled with the generally bouncier and livelier pitches, creates the right kind of environment to make waking up at 4:30 in the morning for an MCG or SCG test an absolute thrill. I am in New York now but derive the same kind of pleasure watching the match till 3 or 4 in the morning after the day's work. And it's not only the Indian team. Watching the Ashes there (apart from the actual cricket :-) ) is as much fun, although I seriously hope more cricket series are played as aggressively and on similar pitches as the the ongoing one. Sometimes, it's worth being a crazy fan!!

  • Grudge.Kid on January 24, 2008, 22:01 GMT

    Yup. I too am absolutely dissapointed that this is the last test of the series. I only wish the first two tests were as brilliant as the last two. I miss waking up to watch Sachin take on the Australians, I can't go as far back as may be some of because, my first memory of cricket would Sachin batting. I miss it, but it is now slightly different, coz I am in the US and I go home from work and turn on my laptop to see the match. Can't wait for the ODIs. My first memory of ODI should be Sachin and Sourav sharing a 100 run partnership match after match.

  • DineshIyer on January 24, 2008, 22:21 GMT

    I think Channel 9 coverage is much more technically superior. I feel that the commentary on Channel 9 to be much better. Maybe they are not always unbiased but neither are Ravi Shastri or Sunny Gavaskar. Nothing beats the enthusiasm of Bill Lawry, Tony Greig and Mark Nicholas and the mastery of Richie Benaud. As for technology - Super Slo-Mo and my favourite HOT SPOT!! Star Cricket has the beehive and bowling pitch map which are more of coaching tools rather than for the audience! Not to mention the goofy animations! Channel 9 has a simple animation for a DUCK! Star Cricket ... please do something to improve ur coverage!!!