We call him ‘Professor of Cricket’. He taught English but wrote books on cricket in Hindi. He wanted to reach out to the common man. For Indore-based Prof. Surya Prakash Chaturvedi, the game has been more than a passion. “It has been my life,” he says on the eve of the India-England cricket series.
At 75, Chaturvedi can look back with pride on the glorious years spent in the company of greats like CK Nayudu, Mushtaq Ali, Vijay Merchant, Vijay Hazare to modern stalwarts like Sunil Gavaskar, G. R. Visvanath, Mohinder Amarnath, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid.
Chaturvedi has penned 10 books so far. The last one on wicket-keepers was very well received. He is now working on a book on umpires. His energy can embarrass a young scribe but Chaturvedi is a tireless “cricket enthusiast” as he likes to call himself. “You have to have passion to follow any subject. Cricket has always been close to my heart from the time I grew up watching some of the finest players one can imagine.”
He laments the decline in cricket writing in the last decade or so. “I won’t blame the youngsters. Where is the scope or platform for them to express themselves as they would love to? Most organisations are interested in behind the scene stories. The game is missing in their writings.”
Chaturvedi has taught for 40 years, 37 of them at the Government Arts and Commerce College. “Sometime back we started a course in sports journalism but it was discontinued because the students were not getting proper placements. I have known some bright sports journalists who sought avenues outside Indore.”
An avid reader, Chaturvedi, who lists Jack Fingleton and Ray Robinson among his favourite cricket writers, acknowledges his gratitude to CK, Mushtaq and Major M. M. Jagdale. “I owe my love for cricket to Major Jagdale. He initiated me into writing and reading cricket. He encouraged me to describe the English game in Hindi. He educated us with countless anecdotes from his playing days and visits to his home were cricket pilgrimage for us youngsters. He was a founding member of the Indore Sports Writers Association (in 1968).”
Major Jagdale is the father of Sanjay, the current secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Sanjay happened to be a student of Chaturvedi. “Prof saab has been a huge influence on us. He wrote on cricket (in magazines and newspapers) and he also was a fine administrator, contributing to the Indore District Cricket Association when there were no funds. His cricket reading is very high and we have often fallen back on his counselling and guidance. He took cricket writing to the common man with his priceless books,” said Sanjay. Chaturvedi wrote his first book in 1995, on C.K. Nayudu, and was honoured when Gavaskar came to launch the book in Indore. His contribution is unmatched since he has documented the feats of Indian cricketers and captured the progress of the game in the country in his well researched books. Indian cricket owes something to this unsung professor of cricket.