Home > Features > Interviews >

Anandji Dossa: The 911 for the commentators and cricket journalists

Anandji Dossa: The 911 for the commentators and cricket journalists

Anandji Dossa (right) with his wife. Photo courtesy Sarang Bhalerao.

Anandji Dossa, born on September 15, 1916, is a doyen of cricket statistics. His penchant for numbers and razor-sharp memory is evident even today. At 97, his unbridled joy is visible when he narrates rare cricketing anecdotes. Sarang Bhalerao caught up with him during his 97th birthday.

He was the cynosure of all eyes at his Ghatkopar residence on Sunday, September 15. Hordes of well-wishers had streamed to his home to pay their respects on his on his 97th birthday. His phone was incessantly ringing. Surprisingly, he answered all the callers, profusely thanking them for remembering him on his birthday.

It was back in 1972 when Anandji Dossa retired as an official statistician of the Board of Control for Cricket in India. The volume of work he did in a lifetime as a scorer and statistician saw him leave a rich legacy for the likes of Sudhir Vaidya who followed him. Four decades after his retirement, the Grand Old Man of cricket statistics is still taken with much reverence.

Dossa maintained detailed statistics for much of the pre-calculator era. Yet, it took him only a fleeting moment to come up with the most trick questions posed by commentators.

Early days: How passion transcended into obsession

In 1932, age 16, Dossa was in Shimla. He was fascinated by a reportage that mentioned Jaaomal Naomal scoring a century. “Naomal scored 139 against Middlesex in 1932. That was my first paper cutting. From thereon I started collecting small articles and pasted them in a scrapbook,” says Dossa. “It was a proud moment to see an Indian scoring a hundred against an English side,” recalls the veteran statistician. His passion transcended into obsession and soon Dossa was Dial 911 for the commentators and journalists.

Dossa was a reserve wicketkeeper for Mumbai and Hindus in the Pentangular tournament. Madhav Mantri, who is currently the oldest living Indian Test cricketer at 92, was the first choice ‘keeper and hence Dossa missed out. Did he ever regret not making it big in cricket? Dossa says: “I have no regrets at all. Madhav Mantri was very good wicketkeeper. He has played four matches for India in 1952.”

In 1950, Dossa awestruck Vijay Merchant, who was a commentator with All India Radio (AIR), with his proclivity for numbers. Merchant soon asked Dossa to accompany him in the commentary box.

Statistician Dossa

Dossa was asked difficult questions by the commentators, but he had answers to all their queries. Once Pearson Surita asked Dossa, “How many runs did bespectacled Pankaj Roy score without wearing glasses?” Only the gifted Dossa could answer that within a few minutes Dossa came up with the break-up of runs.

Once while Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi was batting Vijay Merchant wondered if the Nawab has ever been run-out. Just when Merchant was about to say he has never seen Pataudi get run-out, Dossa told “Once — in Moin-ud-Dowla Gold Cup.”

Eknath Solkar once took three catches at forward short-leg in an innings. Merchant asked Dossa about the last Indian to take three catches at that position. It took Dossa a while to figure out the answer. “Rusi Surti,” said Dossa. “I used to write the position where the fielder had taken the catch,” reminisces Dossa.
When asked about his favourite commentator, Dossa says, “I loved to work with everyone. But I must say Devraj Puri was special. He used to recreate magic on the field in his words.”

Post-retirement

In 1972, Dossa covered his final Test at the Brabourne Stadium. “It was Bobby Talyerkhan’s last game as a guest commentator,” recollects the statsman who kept detailed stats for half a century.  Dossa says the authorities were not letting him retire. Sudhir Vaidya took over from there.

Dossa has donated his voluminous collection of rare cricket records to the Cricket Club of India (CCI). The CCI reference is named after Dossa for his yeoman service to the game of cricket.

When asked about the secret of his long life, Dossa says, “I am blessed to have good friends. They keep me happy.”

That’s what you call a Sada Dossa!

(Sarang Bhalerao hails from a family of doctors, but did his engineering. He then dumped a career in IT with Infosys to follow his heart and passion and became a writer with CricketCountry. A voracious reader, Sarang aspires to beat Google with his knowledge of the game! You can follow him on Twitter here)

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 20, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Kolkata

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 21, 2014 (03:00 IST)   at Mount Maunganui

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Dubai

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (19:00 IST)   at Cuttack

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 24, 2014 (03:00 IST)   at Mount Maunganui

More

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 17, 2014  at Dharamsala

India won by 59 runs

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 14, 2014  at Visakhapatnam

Match cancelled

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 12, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Australia won by 1 run

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 11, 2014  at Delhi

India won by 48 runs

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 10, 2014  at Dubai

Australia won by 5 wkts

Photos

India vs West Indies 4th ODI at Dharamsala

Videos

AB de Villiers speaks ahead of New Zealand ODIs

South Africa vs New Zealand 2014: 5 memorable matches

Yasir Shah: The new spinning sensation for Pakistan

Virat Kohli takes wicket with the first (0th?) ball of his T20I career

Kevin Pietersen’s autobiography — a litany of complaints with a few redeeming patches

Banning West Indian players in IPL can affect the ‘Brand value’ of the event – Will BCCI take this gamble?

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 BCCI India India vs West Indies India vs West Indies 2014 New Zealand Pakistan Salaam Cricket South Africa West Indies West Indies cancel India tour 2014 West Indies tour of India 2014 West Indies vs India West Indies vs India 2014

Live Cricket Score: New Zealand vs South Africa, 1st ODI at Mount Maunganui

Live Scorecard: New Zealand vs South Africa, 1st ODI at Mount Maunganui

Kevin Pietersen is probably the best cricketer I have played with: Eoin Morgan

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: SLC defend decision to tour

Jesse Ryder’s New Zealand comeback possible: Mike Hesson

James Neesham can provide more impetus to New Zealand’s weakened batting up the order

Virender Sehwag turns 36: Five most memorable innings of the Nawab of Najafgarh

New Zealand begin ICC World Cup 2015 preparations with 15 ODIs in store

Virender Sehwag paid birthday tribute to by Sophos Antivirus

South Africa vs New Zealand 2014: 5 memorable matches

Fan of the Day

Gautam Singh

Gautam Singh

474 Posts | 5 Fans

Video Highlights Mohammed Yousuf drops catch after watching a girl in bikini

Live Cricket Score New Zealand vs South Africa 1st ODI at Mount Maunganui

सेक्स टिप # 13: महिलाओं में कामेच्छा (low libido) की समस्या

Bigg Boss 8 highlights: RJ Pritam solves inmates problems while Ali Quli Mirza creates more on Day 29!

‘Time to Deliver Begins Now,’ RBI Governor Tells Indian-Americans

आपकी दिवाली खुशनुमा, सुरक्षित और शुभ हो

Sri Sri’s three-day visit to Chicago from October 23

Movies to watch this week: Happy New Year!

iOS 8.1 update now available bringing Camera Roll, SMS Relay, iCloud Photo library among others

International programme in Animal Husbandry

IBM to pay $1.5 billion to GlobalFoundries to buy its chip division

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here