It is difficult to relate in words the interest and enthusiasm that G. Kasturi showed for sports as Editor of The Hindu.
To say it bordered on passion, which remained undiminished till life ebbed out of him on Friday, is no exaggeration.
We, in the Sports Department, were always in awe of his range of interests and knowledge. He also had an abiding concern for accuracy and advocated simple prose as the means to convey an idea or the mood of a sporting moment to the readers.
He was a multifaceted genius. An all-round sportsman — who shone in tennis, cricket and in cue sports in his youth — GK, as we respectfully referred to him, was versatile to the point of being flawless in judgment.
If the sports pages of The Hindu today has a measure of variety and vivacity, it is largely because of the foundations he laid in1947.
His love for sport prompted the birth of the Sport & Pastime in 1947. For the sports fraternity of the country, thirsting for recognition in the post-independent era, S & P was a God-sent vehicle. It also grew into a ‘Bible for sport’.
He literally planned and polished every page, both in the choice of articles and pictures, to embellish the life and times of sportsmen and women. He was instrumental in starting the annual S & P Trophy limited-over tournament, and even captained the S & P team in the inaugural year.
Always ahead in thinking and planning, GK kept himself informed of the happenings in every discipline. Even as recently as two months ago, he discussed in detail with this writer the raging controversy in Indian hockey. He recalled with a touch of nostalgia of how The Hindu came forward to donate the Rangaswamy Cup, for the National hockey championship, in 1951.
GK’s in-depth knowledge of cricket was phenomenal. He dissected, with impeccable logic, the technique of every batsman and bowler. In a recent discussion he debated why Indian spin dominates on local pitches. His two cricketing heroes were Wally Hammond and Lala Amarnath.
During a meeting connected with the layout for The Sportstar in the late 1970s, GK pulled out a picture showing Hammond in full flow while playing an off-drive and asked, “Will any of your batsmen play this shot with such elegance and class?” For a moment, he fixed his eyes on the picture, immersed in the beauty of it. Such was his boyish enthusiasm.
GK’s recurring theme during interactions with reporters and sub editors was on inculcating the spirit of innovation. He believed in the adage that change is the essential part of existence.
“Put on your thinking cap and imagine what the readers would think of the sports page tomorrow morning,” he said times without number. He advised the desk to unfailingly come up with something new to capture the attention of the reader.
Abreast with the latest development in the world of sports, GK followed interesting matches on radio and TV. He watched with the members of the sports staff the famous last ball six by Javed Miandad against India at Sharjah in 1986.
For the youth
GK consistently advocated that the sports pages were meant for the youth, more so for the growing-up children, to see their achievements recorded and photographed. In a recent discussion, he lamented over the fact that newspapers of today were devoting less and less space for activities in colleges and schools.
For a brief period in 1963-64, GK headed the State tennis association. He strongly pleaded for spreading the sport to district centres and make the game less expensive for the underprivileged children.
GK, Sir, you are incomparable. Simply because the mould in which the Almighty created you does not exist. He has destroyed it.
With tears in our eyes, emotions welling up in our hearts, and prayers on our lips, we bow in reverence to your departed soul. Your memory, we will ever cherish.