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RAISING THE PITCH Maninder Singh

RAISING THE PITCH Maninder Singh  



They once played the game, now they commentate on it. This is on some of the cricketers in the commentators' box

They know nothing but cricket! So why not just know cricket? Their identity is linked to the game and they contribute in their own way by commentating on cricket. Even if they are not playing, they are not far away from the game. These past cricketers, some average and some masters, some retired recently, have found the ideal means to stay in touch with the game."It is enjoyable and paying. It is something that we find easy to relate with. Speaking about the game and being paid for it can be a very rewarding profession and I think it is good for the game as such," beams Maninder Singh, a noted left-arm spinner of his time and a critic with a pleasant reputation for making constructive comments. It is a small `club' of some eminent, and some not-so-eminent, cricketers in the `business' of commentating. Ashok Malhotra, expert along with Kirti Azad on Sahara Samay, thanks the popularity of the game for restoring their status in the society. "We speak cricket because we have a platform to give our views. I am sure the people will tell you they do give attention to what we have to offer. We may not be popular with the current lot of cricketers because we speak the truth but then they can't ignore us. After quitting the game, some of us were involved as selectors and coaches but most of us were dead and buried in the eyes of the public. Thanks to our media involvement we have been revived and I thank cricket for it. If there was no cricket, I shudder to think where would we be," admits Malhotra, shuttling between one studio to another.

Listen to the stars

When they are not experts in the studio, these cricketers are doing commentary work for Dish TV or Tata Sky. You can listen to Malhotra, Madan Lal, Yashpal Sharma, Nikhil Chopra, Atul Wassan, Nayan Mongia, Chetan Sharma, Maninder, Surinder Khanna, Vijay Dahiya and many more commentating even when India is not playing. They provide Hindi commentary from a studio in Noida or Chhattarpur on a game being played in far away South Africa. For the seasoned Chetan Chauhan, media work is an important part of his association with the game. Sharing the platform with the likes of Kapil Dev, Sandeep Patil, Sanjay Manjrekar, Vinod Kambli comes naturally to this former Test opener. Then there is the legendary Bishan Singh Bedi, who is sought after because of his frank assessment of the game. Just as Krish Srikkanth, who is far more popular than the guarded Arun Lal and mundane L. Sivaramakrishnan. For someone like Sreenivasan Radhakrishnan, the young and fresh anchor on NEO Sports, the avenues have just opened up. "I had always wanted to become a cricket commentator and the popularity of the game has helped in finding work for more and more aspirants like me," notes Radhakrishnan, who was outstanding in the company of John Wright, Dean Jones, Arjuna Ranatunga, Colin Croft and Anshuman Gaekwad, getting the best out of them in the studio in Singapore.The competition is growing among past cricketers to squeeze themselves into some studio or other. It helps them stay in limelight and also enhances their market value. "You have to be seen to be noticed," is a simple mantra that someone like Saba Karim has followed. These cricketers are hardly home the whole year, a throwback to their playing days. The cricket writer, CLR James, once wrote, "What do they know of cricket who only cricket know." Well, these cricketers behind the mike are not complaining. They know nothing but cricket and they are happy that way. VIJAY LOKAPALLY

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