Essays, reflections and more

Australia: an infatuation

What was it about them that made them the team to follow for an Indian boy growing up 30-odd years ago?

Krishna Kumar

January 14, 2012

Comments: 38 | Text size: A | A

Kim Hughes on the attack during the Centenary Test, England v Australia, Lord's, August 29, 1980
Kim Hughes: radio star © Getty Images
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Series/Tournaments: India tour of Australia
Teams: Australia | India

Everything used to be big. When I grew up, in the '70s and the early '80s in India, short-wave radios were relatively large. Newspapers were, sports magazines were. As a kid you spent a considerable amount of time just looking at the large photographs. You learnt about sport that way. As you absorbed the tableau-like quality of these photographs, you enjoyed sport for its sheer visual delights. Sport grew on you. Unhurriedly, without interruptions, vivid in the imagination.

Radio commentary made the pictures come alive, and added a touch of drama. Richards hooking, courtesy Adrian Murrell and Patrick Eagar, the SS Jumbo, and later the V100, maker's name proudly facing the viewer. When Jim Maxwell described Richards hooking Lillee, this picture, previously tucked away, unfurled and assumed flight.

As a kid you tended to develop sporting heroes purely on instinct. And as you associated teams with heroes, national boundaries blurred a bit. Since radio was the only source of live information, instinct was perhaps honed by the commentary that caught your fancy the most. Radio Australia in my case. Alan McGilvray sounded wise, but Maxwell made cricket exciting for a young kid. As he described Kim Hughes swing to leg, or dance down the pitch to hit straight, feet moving in a light scissoring motion, your hair stood on end. Rodney Hogg turning at the top of his run at the Vulture Street end before steaming in to bowl, first thing in the morning, India time, during the 1978-79 Ashes, was incredibly exciting. It didn't matter one bit that Australia were beaten soundly in the series.

In those radio years, we had a Philips set. It had a small, roughly triangular break in the glass that enclosed the dial. That was where the knob that changed the bands met the glass. Medium-wave was when the knob pointed upward. This was mostly used for home Tests. Nine forty-five in the morning during a home series meant time to switch the radio on. Listening to the long, high-pitched beep before live programming began was a special thrill. When the beep gave way to the All India Radio signature tune, you moved a little closer. When the announcer said, first in Hindi and then in English, that you were being transferred to the Test match venue for live commentary, you felt a small tingle run up your spine.

Fine-tuning into Radio Australia wasn't too difficult on our radio, since the 13m band was at the extreme left on the dial. You simply turned the dial so far left that the needle actually stood up a bit - the twine that tied the dial to the needle could stretch only so much. There's nothing that quite matches the feeling a kid gets when the first thing he does on waking up is fiddle in the dark with a radio dial. Ears straining expectantly for McGilvray and Maxwell, he is, as philosophers would say, one with the radio. It is not dissimilar to what athletes feel when they are in the zone.

In the '80s, the World Cup served as a kind of cricketing exclamation mark between luxuriously scheduled tours, the year-ending Benson & Hedges tri-series in Australia, and random one-day series in Sharjah. The calendar had a certain clarity to it. Nations toured each other, they played domestic sides, fans got to learn geography and time zones. The late afternoon breeze from the Hooghly made the ball swing; so would the Fremantle Doctor. Headingley would bring in the clouds, and Mike Hendrick. It seemed to rain every afternoon in Guyana; inconsequential hundreds would be made. Melbourne and Sydney would mean you had to get up by 5:30am. Perth, on the west coast, would give you a little more leeway - you could sleep till 8. No alarm ever worked better than a Boxing Day Test.

The first Australia-India series I remember following closely was the 1977-78 one. All India Radio used to send its commentators to cover overseas tours, and you knew all this because, even as lower-primary school students, you read newspapers closely. Well, to be truthful, the sports pages of newspapers. And so a bunch of us used to get up early in the morning - and often a few times during the night - just to make sure we didn't miss the first ball.

Perhaps it was something that the commentators said, but Peter Toohey caught my fancy the most. Bob Simpson came back in from the cold; Packer had netted the first line of stars. Sunil Gavaskar was the exact opposite of Virender Sehwag, in that he seemed to always score hundreds in the second innings. Bedi, Chandra and Pras relished Melbourne and Sydney, and there were a couple of very close-run chases by India, although I remember only the Adelaide one. There was the quaint night-watchman intervention by Tony Mann. The series was extremely closely fought, and the only thing that took away from its sheen was the missing frontline Australians.

Radio Australia having worked its magic by then, my Australia bias was in full bloom for the India home series in 1978-79. The Sportstar ran an interview with the Australia coach, Bob Merriman. One line stands out in memory. "What more do you want than [Dave] Whatmore?" he was asked. His answer "Ten more Whatmores" cracked me up quite a bit then, I must shamelessly admit.

 
 
There's nothing that quite matches the feeling a kid gets when the first thing he does on waking up is fiddle in the dark with a radio dial. Ears straining expectantly for McGilvray and Maxwell, he is, as philosophers would say, one with the radio
 

India were just a bit too strong for the Australians, minus their Packer stars, although Allan Border and Hughes did their growing reputations no harm at all. Geoff Dymock and Karsan Ghavri were a touch of the exotic, at a time when left-arm fast bowlers were few and far between. Mohinder Amarnath, in an odd sola topee, fell on his wicket attempting to hook Hogg. It made for a particularly striking photograph that everyone who followed cricket then must remember.

I became a complete Kim Hughes fan. Something about him in baggy green, lofting spinners down the ground, seemed to define cricketing majesty. The Australian cricketing form - sharp, clean, straight lines - painted cricketing dash and grandeur. The fine, straight-backed elegance stimulated my childhood sense of the aesthetic. The subtle captivation of the wristy, curved, wispy, dreamy Indian cricketing rhythm was to come much later.

With the returning Packer stars, plus Hughes and Border, Australia dominated the 1980-81 series. Hughes famously dedicated his double-century at the Adelaide Oval to his newborn twins. Lillee and Pascoe bowled India out cheaply in the Australian win at the SCG. Shivlal Yadav (in the first of two worthy contributions to Indian causes in Australia; he was to return a couple of decades later, as manager) and Ghavri hung on by the skin of their teeth in Adelaide. And Doshi and Kapil pulled off that memorable heist at the MCG. This seemed to trigger a kind of nerviness in the Australian teams of the '80s, and even through to the early '90s. You could count on the Aussies to stuff a chase of 100-odd runs any time. Botham, Willis, and even Fanie de Villiers, should perhaps thank Doshi, Kapil and the MCG for setting up that sneaking sense of doubt. This caused me no small sense of despair, as every time I supported Australia then, in chases that should have been easy strolls in the park, I ended up on the losing side. Well, okay, Australia did, but you know what I mean.

After MCG, India and Australia somehow contrived not to play each other in Tests for the first half of the '80s. There was a clutch of one-dayers in between times. India dominated the 1985-86 drawn series in Australia, and should have won it, except for some inopportune rain and skewed umpiring. Their batting began to look utterly dominating, especially against the next generation of Australian quick bowlers. Craig McDermott, Bruce Reid and Merv Hughes were just about starting out and often came up short against Srikkanth, Gavaskar, Mohinder, Vengsarkar, Azharuddin, Shastri and Co.

I still backed the Aussies, especially McDermott. There was something about his run-up - jaw set in firm, aggressive intent, arms rhythmically pumping, right wrist cocked, left arm readying itself for the final leap at the crease - that defined the strong, aggressive fast bowler. The face cream helped as well.

The Indian batting at this point had the right mix of experience and youth, and all fast bowlers suffered in comparison to the magnificent West Indians, Imran and Hadlee. Nothing the Australians threw at the visitors fazed the Indians in the slightest, exemplified by the large totals they made in Australia, and in that brilliant last-innings chase in the nail-biting tie in Madras.

Somewhere around this time, I developed Indian cricketing heroes, starting off, somewhat strangely, with Maninder Singh. Something in his beautifully co-ordinated left-arm spinner's action introduced me to the Indian cricketing form. Everything in Maninder's action was about rhythm. And about curves. From that smooth turn at the top of his run, till the arms uncoiled in that wonderful springy arc and the ball was released in a delicious loop, and seemingly gained pace off the pitch. My cricketing sensibilities then onwards started to respond to the Indian rhythm and form. Maninder's spin and then Azhar's wristiness, slowly, steadily drew me India's way. Eventually the arrival of a certain Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar completely weaned me away from Australia. But I'm getting ahead of myself.


Sachin Tendulkar overcomes the challenges of a fast WACA pitch, Australia v India, 5th Test, February 1-5, 1992
Tendulakr's Perth special in 1992 moved even the staunchest Aussie supporters to cheer for him © Mid Day
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Thereabouts, after being down in the dumps almost interminably in the early Border years, Australia started winning, slowly at first, then with increasing regularity, and eventually everything in sight, and India slumped mightily. It all started with that 1987 World Cup in India.

When the tournament came to the subcontinent for the first time, it was full of tight scraps. Perhaps, it was the outfields, perhaps the flat pitches, which needed the fielding team to really throw themselves about to get people out. Everyone ended up looking dusty, dirty and sweaty. Most times Border looked like he couldn't see through the grime in beard and eye. After years of grit and loss, when he seemed to be the only Australian batsman around, he emerged from the rubble with the nucleus of a team that would eventually go on to dethrone the West Indians as champions in all forms of the game.

The 1991-92 series in Australia was dominated by McDermott, Mike Whitney and Merv Hughes. Azhar hit one thrilling hundred, in Adelaide. But it was Tendulkar's boy genius that shone like a lone star. The WACA was graced by an innings of brilliance. Everything else looked pedestrian in comparison. I was hooked, like the rest of the nation. A couple of years earlier Sanjay Manjrekar had replaced Gavaskar as India's most technically equipped batsman. R Mohan's descriptions of Manjrekar's technique in the Hindu bordered on the lyrical. With his straight-batted flick, Manjrekar became the latest addition to my pantheon of Indian cricketing heroes. But he too failed in Australia.

Around this time I happened to become a graduate student in Montreal. I guess in a foreign country you do become more aware of your roots. Watching cricket in sports bars, braving winter, in the cricketing backwater of Rue Jean Talon, I lost whatever was left of my Australian bias - strangely when Australia had begun dominating all and sundry. But I suppose that has got to be a story for another time.

Krishna Kumar is a software architect in Bangalore who maintains that the best way to keep awake in meetings is by playing the Laxman air-cover drive

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Posted by zenboomerang on (January 17, 2012, 6:05 GMT)

Great read & displays that no matter where you are from you can love watching/listening to players from other countries... I loved following Bishan Bedi & later Kepil Dev & off course SRT... Also Viv Richards & 'big bird' from WI - all great entertainers... Dale Steyn I have enjoyed from before he became 'famous' as well as Lasith Malinga in a bitter/sweet (for me) ODI where he batted heroically & beat Oz in an ODI at the MCG 2010... Sometimes the game is bigger than which team you support...

Posted by sivadubai on (January 17, 2012, 5:22 GMT)

Great Nostalgia. I grew up in chennai in the same period, wake up at 5:00, stand up on a chair to reach my Radio to listen to the commentaries. It was early monring for the Australia, New zealand and late nights for West Indies. We used to continue in the class rooms playing book cricket. all my botany, zoology record note books had cricket teams written on the back side. Getting caught redhanded by the Zoology teacher was another interesting episode. Whenever there used to be a break in the school, the radio becomes alive and students round up to listen to the running commentary. Who can forget 166 from Sunny on SCG, Patil 129 at Adelaide, Jeff Thomson, Dennis Lillie, Terry Alderman, Len Pascoe, Merv Hughes, Craig Mcdermott, Rodney Hogg, Oh Dear. That was fantastic period. Great days, Thank you once again

Posted by   on (January 16, 2012, 16:42 GMT)

Imagine reminiscing over a T20 or an ODI 30 years back.Wouldn't happen. Just makes you appreciate Test cricket and what it has to offer even more. Great article!

Posted by   on (January 16, 2012, 10:47 GMT)

Great article, bringing back many fond memories! I remember having an audio cassette recording of Jim Maxwell of the over in which Kapil Dev spanked Richard Hadlee for 3 fours in an over during the semifinals of the Benson & Hedges World Championship of Cricket in 1985 and playing it over and over again for inspiration during my under- graduate days. Great commentators on Radio Australia those days!

Posted by Ashofalltrades on (January 16, 2012, 2:52 GMT)

Mr Krishna Kumar, very interesting article. Growing up and getting the flavor of cricket in the late 70's and early 80's carries with it fantastic memories. Growing up in a small town in MP, TV didn't even make its way to homes until the Asian Games of 1982. And of course, DD had nothing at that time except the World of Sport. Radio became everyone's best friends and the odd pocket transistors that one could smuggle in their school bags. A few good memories include watching Sunny Gavaskar and co's valiant attempt in chasing down 438 at the Oval in 1979 ,while keeping an eye on where the Skylab was going to fall. Another one is of a few of us 7th graders sneaking out and listening to the commentary on All India radio on a pocket transistor how Kapil got his 5/28 and got our Melbourne test victory in 1980-81.

Posted by   on (January 16, 2012, 2:22 GMT)

As an England fan growing up inthe same period (late 70s/early 80s) who loved Willis & Co. I didn't have much time for any opposition team batsmen, except Kim Hughes and Viv Richards who always impressed me with the way they carried themselves. I miss those days - it seems like a faraway era that fades a little more with each passing year...

Posted by Meety on (January 16, 2012, 1:16 GMT)

Nicely written article. The only thing I disagree with is that whilst India did flog us everywhere except in the series result, I thought it was negative captaincy that blew it. India would bat far too long. I don't remember any significant dodgy decisions either way. I do remember thinking if they allow themselves 4 sessions to bowl us out we're stuffed, they seemed to only allow a bout 2 1/2 sessions. I felt that it appeared that India would rather a draw than risk a loss. That was a truely foreign concept to me. The biggest frustration in my time following Oz cricket (roughly the same length of time as the author) has been some of Oz's collapses chasing "getable" totals. This current series, surely the Indian batsmen (& tail) should of been thinking if we can 48 runs ahead - who knows? At least it wouldn't be an innings defeat.

Posted by Vedahametham on (January 16, 2012, 0:30 GMT)

my memories have gone back to 1971 as i read the article. Actually during that time as a school boy I won a Toshiba transistor radio by solving a crossworld puzzle in a news paper. That radio fell from the window side by our bed many times but never stopped giving us the running commentary. My father and we four brothers used to write the score as well. Our home was the answer for any statistics in our village. My some of the commentators I remember are christopher Martin-jenkis(CMJ) and Tony Cozier and our own Dicky Rutnagur, Sushil Doshi, Suresh Saraiya, AFS Talyarkhan. We used to concentrate listening to every ball as it was ball-by-ball commentary. On TV we don't watch it so intently as it used to be listening on Radio.

Posted by IndianInnerEdge on (January 15, 2012, 21:54 GMT)

What a fab read!! brought back memories of many a cold wintry childhood morning in India, shivering in a blanket & hear the magic from the radio! The start of ODI's, the description of big grounds with fielders/ball scattering the sea gulls. Even though i am indian, Jeff Thommo's slingshot javelin throw bowling action was my 'fix', i used to do this in many a school hallway or in the confined spaces of my home. As the writer has pointed out, my newspaper reading started with the back sports pages. After 14 yrs in Auckland, nz-I finally got to melbourne, live here and had my first visit to the fabled MCG during this india tes-pity that india lost but i felt this ground lived upto & more in terms of atmosphere and theatre-all that i had heard of on radio and read in papers as a young kid.Used to love sportsstar and its centre posters. Pity that the world nowadays is so wired and some of the romance, charm n innocence is missing. On another note, i feel indian fans were more humble then!

Posted by Beertjie on (January 15, 2012, 21:36 GMT)

A great read - sharing a parallel universe with you, Krishna Kumar, although living in South Africa (of Indian origin). I'm a generation earlier - the first tied test was my conversion to the only "religion" I know. The short-wave commentary with the words "This is the Australian Broadcasting Corporation" was like the intonation of the "high priest". That identification with "your" team transcends everything on earth. I dreamed of making the pilgrimage to Adelaide to meet the Don himself. Alas, this did not happen. However, almost retired now and planning a second visit to "my" country to take in an Ashes series (maybe 2015-16). Yes, @ansram, I too imitated Strian. No disrespect to the land of my forefathers, but growing up in a westernized secular household, it is difficult for me to speak of roots, so I'm an Austalianphile rather than an Anglophile - studying in England can do that for you! Get that urn back where it belongs!

Posted by   on (January 15, 2012, 16:15 GMT)

Great article. We all love the cricket on the wireless. Bill brysons book about australia had a piece about driving in the bush in sourh australia and being enthralled by the cricket on the car radio.

Posted by   on (January 15, 2012, 11:42 GMT)

I grew up in India in the 1980s as well. It was a unique experience and following cricket was very unique back then. We hardly watched TV (there was nothing to watch on DD).

I remember listening to commentary in the scorching summer of 1991 as Australia toured the West Indies to try to dislodge the Windies from their position as the undisputed champions of test cricket. Even though the sums of money involved were paltry, the battles were ferocious - so much so that it makes all contests these days look like kids playing cricket in the park. Anyone who disagrees with me should watch the footage on You Tube and see the injuries that McDermott inflicted on the West Indies batsmen in the first innings of the first test. The Windies were always going to return the favour of course and with Walsh, Ambrose, Marshall and Patterson, they had an attack that would give nightmares to our modern batsmen. Those were the days..............

Posted by MrKricket on (January 15, 2012, 8:50 GMT)

Great story. As an Aussie I could never contemplate supporting another team, first being exposed to cricket when Lillee and Thomson were mowing down the Poms. But you are totally on the money with the Melbourne Test of 80-81 being the catalyst for a series of poor chases of low totals. I made up a list once and it was quite long of all the Tests Australia should have won! I think it even came into the Hobart loss to NZ.

Posted by Pjaycee on (January 15, 2012, 8:32 GMT)

What a fantastic article and evokes many memories of growing up in a rural town in NSW in the 70's. I would stay up late into the night listening to McGilvray commentate the 1972 Ashes series from England. The radio has never left my side in all the subsequent summers! I was fortunate to attend the 1977/78 Test, at the SCG, with my dad and watch Bob Simpson's team play India. I guess many of the generation that are touched by Krishna's wonderful article grew up listening to radio broadcasts & , in Australia, watching ABC TV's black & white coverage. Simpler times, real characters and not a tatoo in sight!

Posted by   on (January 15, 2012, 6:36 GMT)

Superb writing. You brought back all those enjoyable moments that Our generation had 30 years back. Radio Commentary and listening to Radio Australia and BBC was such a pleasure. Thank you very much for the wonderful cricket article

Posted by 4test90 on (January 15, 2012, 4:28 GMT)

It is often forgotten that after that MCG match in 1981, there was no further result in any Australia-India Tests for the rest of the decade !!!! Aust did not beat India until 1991/2 and India did not beat Aust until 1996. A lot of dull draws and one memorable tie in between.

Posted by sinhasom on (January 15, 2012, 2:02 GMT)

Great writing, identical childhood in India. Adore Australian heroes especially Norm O'Neill and Lew Hoad. Have to mention 2 things which stick in my mind from the Aus-India encounters of 1977-78 and then 1980-81, viz., Kim Hughes struck Bedi for a few boundaries in 1978, before Bedi came back with the arm ball, to bowl Hughes out on his back foot. Look at his dismissal at Melbourne in 1981 by Dilip Doshi's arm ball, in an almost identical fashion off the back foot. Secondly, in the 1978 Adelaide test Graeme Wood was stumped by Kirmani off a Chandra ball down the legside. Look for the identical dismissal of Graeme Wood in Melbourne 1981, by Kirmani off Doshi from a ball down the leg side.

Don't follow cricket now except for the Ashes...Looks like a factory job. It is not an escape anymore. No oddities, no quirks, no charm....just bland homogeneity. Remember the Rest Day in Test matches, the eight-ball overs in Australia and the way they would call extras Sundries...Sigh

Posted by jazzfreak on (January 14, 2012, 23:45 GMT)

What a joy to read and brought back so many memories Thank you Mr Krishna Kumar I have been an Aus commentary fan from the days when A G Johnny Moyes and Alan McGilvray adorned the box and I slowly learnt to understand the accents and the emphasis on ay Jim Burke who started the trend of cricketers taking over the mic was a joy to listen to and in his wake followed Benaud and Lawry and the observant Peter Roebuck It was tragic when Jim was on the mic one day and dead the next My sadness knew no bounds We didnt see the players save for b&w still pics but we could visualize how Alan Davidson would bowl and how Doug Walters would bat Such a generation of vivid descriptors is perhaps gone.Technology has changed so much today that you dont need an imagination any more

Posted by ashokFL on (January 14, 2012, 22:42 GMT)

Very nicely written. i think i just started when you left, if you did. i was 10 year old kid when this 'cricketing ghost' got over me. i went through ever fluctuating emotions especially when India played Pakistan and was there around radio with my father during India matches in 80's and early 90's. The time was when azhar played first for India. i have practically followed azhar and tendulkar until today. I used to add up runs and calculate averages after each game for the two. so as sachin nears his retirement, i will make sure i will also take it easy now. I have started taking pleasures reading about past matches more that looking forward to new matches.

Posted by   on (January 14, 2012, 22:11 GMT)

Those were the days my friend … the 85-86 series was my first and the test matches were only on the radio. Kapil was in great form and so were Srikant and Gavaskar. The Sportsar was another icon in those days and the centre spreads were to die for.

Posted by WHAB on (January 14, 2012, 21:16 GMT)

Lovely piece indeed! Very enjoyable. Thank you.

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas_Atheist on (January 14, 2012, 19:39 GMT)

What a nostalgic trip! Excellent piece! Australian cricket is always special and as an Indian I always have a strange love hate relationship with their cricket and cricketers. Carl Rackemann - anybody remember him? As a kid, I was so afraid of his fast bowling. He was devastating sometime in 1984 and loved the assualt of Kirti Azad on him when they toured India in 1984. Vengy was also playing some good cricket at that time. And then later we have that evergreen rowdy Merv Hughes and the thick mush Boon. What characters! Love them and their cricket. And then I was heart broken when I was compelled to hate Ricky since Sydney 2007/08. I'm now again feeling good that I'm loving and respecting all of them again. When will the Windies bounce back? Would love to see them ruling the world cricket for one last time before I leave this planet. Coming back to Australians - Aah, Those Mighty Australians! Thanks a million to all of them.

Posted by insightfulcricketer on (January 14, 2012, 16:38 GMT)

Fuzzy memories came rushing back. Oh for that radio! I recalled sitting in a sun-drenched car with icy winds outside in Shillong peak and early morning listening to running coommentaries of 81-82 contest between Australia and WI.Kamikaze Wood flaying the rampaging West Indies bowlers. And of course there was Richards against Lillee contest in Melbourne to listen to.

Posted by RohanBhalerao on (January 14, 2012, 16:29 GMT)

One word for this article - BEAUTIFUL! Those radio memories......ohh...NOSTALGIA!

Posted by   on (January 14, 2012, 13:57 GMT)

I was born 10 yrs after when this series was played but am having a gr8 time reading the article and the comments....beautiful !

Posted by ht.shajib on (January 14, 2012, 13:52 GMT)

I like it so much. I could see my own childhood. Thanks for the article.

Posted by hodgesp on (January 14, 2012, 12:51 GMT)

Great piece of writing. I grew up in in a remote part of Australia where cricket on the radio was part of our culture.I had a small transistor radio that stayed under my pillow at night so I could listen to Australia play overseas, naturally my parents did not know ;-) but I could always and still do talk to my father about the game the teams from around the world, and the players that made up those teams.as I got older cricket on the radio stayed with me whether driving around the country or sitting in the backyard and having a quiet beer in the afternoon with another cricket loving mate. I live in the US now and can stream the TV coverage live fromwell around the world 24 hours a day, but have not found the radio coverage that I crave... btw my favourite Aus batsman Kim Hughes. He made plenty of runs against the worlds best in my backyard. ,

Posted by smalishah84 on (January 14, 2012, 12:32 GMT)

Wonderfully well written article I must say. I have to say that there is definitely some quality about the Aussie side that makes you want to side with them when they are down

Posted by   on (January 14, 2012, 12:30 GMT)

Amazing. This article is the inverted experience that I had growing up. I was already cricket fan when India arrived on these shores in 1977/78. It was the first series I watched like my life depended on it...and what an impression those Indian players of long ago made on an impressionable ten year old! Gavaskar was a paragon of technique and reliability. His opening partner Chauhan was a doughty fighter. Mohinder Armanath was a fine player of fast bowling as was the mighty Gunduppa Viswanath who caressed his drives. Then there was the tall, handsome Bollywood like Dilip Vengsakar who looked like a God when he played the cover drive. At number six there was Gaekwad - who looked like an accountant sent out to serve his country. Syed Kirmani was the keeper...one of the best I have seen standing up to the stuimps. Ghavri the allrounder, Prasanna the chubby off spinner were quality players, as were Venkat, Mankad and Madan Lal...but my fondest memories were of Chandra and Bedi...geniuses.

Posted by ansram on (January 14, 2012, 12:26 GMT)

Great read. I too remember the radio commentary of the 80s and then trying to imitate the Australian accent with my cricket friends!

Posted by cricsavvy on (January 14, 2012, 11:37 GMT)

Fantastic. Exactly what I did as a boy.I am bit more lucky as I now live in Australia and I always wanted to live here because I too supported Australia, just by listening to ABC and watching channel 9 with awe. Excellent

Posted by Chestnutgrey on (January 14, 2012, 7:37 GMT)

This is terrific. Growing up in India in the 80s, listening to cricket commentary, making scrapbook from the photos in the Sportstar, Sportsweek and Sportsworld, I held the Aussie cricketers dear. Graham Yallop, Bruce Yardley, Terry Alderman, and that terrific timer of the ball, Wayne Bentley Phillips. Then there were Simon O'donnell, Graeme Wood, Greg Mathews who I hated passionately, and then on some lesser known ones like Rod McCurdy, Paul Hogan, Murray Bennett, Robbie Kerr, Steve Smith. I wanted all of them to succeed. Then the Australian team started being really successful and I lost interest in them.

Posted by logicricket on (January 14, 2012, 7:25 GMT)

And I could still remember the B&H tied one day match between India and WI in Perth which took place on a sunday.. Also the half an hour highlights DD used to air during match days..

Posted by shaanazaan on (January 14, 2012, 7:00 GMT)

Brought back memories 30 years old. Kim Hughes and Graemme Wood were my idols too. Remember Rick Darling being downed in Bombay, and being carried off on a stretcher.

Posted by   on (January 14, 2012, 5:42 GMT)

A beautiful piece of writing! For someone who grew up in that same generation and culture of tuning in to shortwave radios early in the morning to listen to Jim Maxwell and co, this one makes me truly nostalgic. I too became a Kim Hughes fan in that 1979-80 and my room was colored with a photo of that famous Hughes sweep-shot that made batting look so easy and yet stunning!

Posted by Marcian on (January 14, 2012, 5:38 GMT)

What a great read. I must admit, I, too, was infatuated as a kid with Australian cricketers, while listening to Ashes Test match commentary on short-wave radio in the late '70s and '80s era. Australia was the team to follow for me until '82.

Posted by   on (January 14, 2012, 5:18 GMT)

Boy..Do I ever Know what your talking about!!I've been supporting Australia since I was 4 years old.My earliest memory of any kind of cricket is collecting Allan Border stickers and asking the neighbor if David Boon is batting yet as We didn't have TV in our home.Fortunately my growing up years has coincided with Australia Winning everything in sight unlike you.So lot more happy memories for me.:)Also They still struggle to chased down small totals. So I know exactly how frustrating it is when they don't. But unlike you I don't thing My Infatuation which has now blossomed into a Love Affair will ever End as I grow older. :)

Posted by cricket_ardent on (January 14, 2012, 4:55 GMT)

"No alarm ever worked better than a Boxing Day Test." -- couldn't agree more with you mate. Nice article -- brought back old memories.

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Krishna Kumar Having spent a considerable amount of time in Calicut and Ottawa, much of it playing cricket, Krishna Kumar feels he is qualified to talk about anything that involves the game. While teaching Computer Science, among other things, he has compared an Operating Systems scheduler to a cricket captain, an over to a process and fielders to processor registers.

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Billboards are calling the series England's Indian Summer, but it is India who are looking for that period of warmth, redemption after the last whitewash, for they have seen how bleak the winter that can follow is

South Africa face the Kallis question

Accommodation for a great player like Jacques Kallis should be made with careful consideration and South Africa cannot get carried away with sentiment

India's bowling leader conundrum

The present Indian bowling line-up will tackle its first five-Test series without the proven guidance of Zaheer Khan, their bowling captain. India had unravelled without him in 2011. Will they do better this time around?

Five key head-to-heads

From two embattled captains to the challenge for India's openers against the new ball, ESPNcricinfo picks five contests that could determine the series

Packed tours, and Shiv's late stumping

Also, best post-war win/loss record, most runs in two calendar years, most ducks in a Test, and brothers with similar numbers

News | Features Last 7 days

    India look for their Indian summer (87)

    Billboards are calling the series England's Indian Summer, but it is India who are looking for that period of warmth, redemption after the last whitewash, for they have seen how bleak the winter that can follow is

    South Africa face the Kallis question (56)

    Accommodation for a great player like Jacques Kallis should be made with careful consideration and South Africa cannot get carried away with sentiment

    India's bowling leader conundrum (44)

    The present Indian bowling line-up will tackle its first five-Test series without the proven guidance of Zaheer Khan, their bowling captain. India had unravelled without him in 2011. Will they do better this time around?

    Why isn't Ashwin playing? (34)

    It's close to inexplicable how India's best spinner is being left out in favour of bits-and-pieces players

    Five key head-to-heads (33)

    From two embattled captains to the challenge for India's openers against the new ball, ESPNcricinfo picks five contests that could determine the series