Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Looking forward to the morning (for the scores)

Rohan over at Ducking Beamers is perfectly correct. There is a certain pleasure to be had from experiencing that mixture of "dread and excitement" as I walk towards my computer in the mornings, (often with cup of coffee in hand), to check the cricket scores for a subcontinent test. (Well, the same can happen for tests in South Africa and England but in those cases, the game is still on, and the feeling is slightly different; in the case of subcontinent, there is the added sense of a fait accompli). And Rohan is right too, that this feeling is reminiscent of the older feeling of walking gingerly towards the morning newspaper, not knowing what terrible disappointments or unbridled exultations lay in store as one turned towards the sport pages.

We all grew up with a variety of news sources for cricket scores foremost amongs which was the newspaper, with the sports page tucked away in most cases on the (n-2) page. Thus, unfold, flip over, turn last page, and behold the cricket score. English scores sometimes showed up too late to be reported fully; Australian scores were a day behind; West Indian scores were current till lunch. The reports associated with each scores were just wire agency capsules. Since the scoreboard was not listen in a tabular format but rather in a single paragraph, I had to trace out the scores carefully, making sure not to mistake a hero's score for a villain's.

One problem with the morning newspaper was that it had frequently had to be shared. My father was quite sporting (no pun intended) about sharing the sports page; my brother less so. One delight associated with the morning paper was that it was read over a cup of tea. Thus, I often waited till I had turned to the sports page before I started sipping my morning tea, a little strategy to enhance the pleasure of the morning cuppa. Ah, caffeine and cricket, was there ever a sweeter combination of drug and sport? (Well, perhaps alcohol, but its brutal if you want to stay up late at night to watch a game - but I digress).

The role of the newspaper in reporting matches played in India was considerably different. I knew the scores already; I knew most of the twists of the previous day's play. Thus, the report provided a chance to see if anyone else agreed with my take on the day's play. I was pretty secure in my assessment of the game even as a young 'un, and hadn't elevated reporters to the level of authorities. Misplaced confidence obviously, but not such a terrible sin.

There was one problem with newspapers: there was the slight chance that they might not be delivered. Things were perfectly salvageable if our particular subscription was not available for the newspaperman would simply substitute another one. But if there was a larger problem, a strike, or some other natural disaster, then despair could set in.

And thats where the radio came in. But thats another story altogether.

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Blogger Berchmans said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:42 AM  
Anonymous Ducking Beamers said...

I only have one memory with cricket-on-the-radio, but it's a good one.

I was still a middle schooler in Bombay in the mid-1990s, and since I was stuck in class, I couldn't follow the match between India and South Africa at Eden Gardens (1996/7).

All the students in the class -- and in those days, there were 40 stuck in one room -- wanted the latest updates, but only one had the foresight (and courage) to smuggle in a small radio.

In between classes, when we waited for teachers to arrive and start teaching the next subject, we'd crowd around the radio and hear the faraway stadium in Calcutta burst with applause.

"Azhar's gone crazy," one student shouted. "Another 4!" (He went to hit a century off 72 balls.)

That's how the day unfolded: impatiently waiting for one teacher to finish his lesson (but never daring to appear bored, because the discipline could be harsh), and then trying to conjure the images we heard on the radio in our head -- Azhar, making us proud.

12:45 AM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...


Thanks for the comment (and apologies for the delayed response) - thats a great story. I've got a few radio stories like that from my school days; I'm going to try and pen some of them in the days to come.


7:08 AM  

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