Suresh Saraiya, RIP. A commentator with passion

20 Jul,2012

By A Correspondent


July 18 was a sad day for many as yesteryear superstar Rajesh Khanna passed away. However, there was another man who left a vacuum in the cricket-frenzy nation.


One of India’s best known cricket commentators Suresh Saraiya passed away on Wednesday following a heart attack.


He made his debut in 1969 and will be missed by all for his love for the game. “He wasn’t a cricketer and it was his passion about the game that made him what he was,” remembers Ayaz Menon, veteran cricket journalist. Mr Saraiya was a public relations officer in the Central Bank of India apart from being a commentator.


“His sheer dedication towards the game was admirable. He did his homework well before any game and listening to his commentary was like an education in itself,” Mr Memon adds.


Agreeing with him, Hemant Kenkre, a former cricketer and commentator and a senior communications professional adds, “His sense was preparedness is what everyone should look up to. He would get into details and know nuances about a cricketer and used them as nuggets which made people feel a ‘connect’ with not just the game but the player as well.”


The cricketing fraternity as well as the fans who grew up listening to him on the radio are mourning the death of the man who covered more than 100 Tests for All India Radio, for whom he worked for more than four decades.


According to many, Mr Saraiya enchanted the listeners with his smooth voice and unique style when radio commentary was at its peak in the 1960s and 70s before the advent of television. “There is a huge difference between today’s commentary and that in the yesteryears. Today, we have visuals to support whereas in those commentators’ job was not only to give stats but also paint a picture for the listeners which wasn’t easy,” points out Mr Memon.


Even microblogging platform Twitter was buzzed after the news of him passing came in. Television commentator Harsha Bhogle tweeted, “I worked with so many commentators – few with his desire and preparation.”


“Unlike today’s commentators who are former cricketers, his style was very different. One could call him a silent-but-deadly man because of his knowledge about the game and players. And he always encouraged others especially new journalists and freelancers and was willing to teach and educate them about how to follow the game,” recalls Mr Kenkre. “I don’t think there is anyone who would have anything negative to say about a man of his stature. His demise is a great loss to the cricketing world.”


Photograph: Fotocorp


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