There was no local commentary or telecast during the 1979 World Cup and also for a large part of the 1983 World Cup too. It was only when India reached the semi-finals, that Doordarshan made arrangements for a live telecast
There was no local commentary or telecast during the 1979 World Cup and also for a large part of the 1983 World Cup too. It was only when India reached the semi-finals, that Doordarshan made arrangements for a live telecast

 

By Raj Jayaram

 

I remember tuning into the BBC radio commentary of the first-ever cricket World Cup in 1975 on short-wave. The commentary wasn’t even relayed by All India Radio back then and the question of a telecast never arose. It was only many years later that I saw a video recording of Clive Lloyd’s magnificent century in the inaugural World Cup final.

 

In 1979 and for a large part of the 1983 World Cup too, there was no local commentary or telecast. Only when India got into the semi-finals, did Doordarshan make arrangements for a live transmission. The telecast of the final was also interrupted many times because of a loss of the satellite link and viewers had to put up with the extended monologues of Dr. Narottam Puri instead of the live action for several crucial minutes. But the joy of the Indian victory was more than enough to compensate for such minor inconveniences.

 

It was only after we won the 1983 World Cup that one-day cricket really caught on in India. I was in the Wankhede Stadium on the day Graham Gooch swept us out of the 1987 edition. I woke up at 2.30 am in 1992 to watch Krishnamachari Srikkanth unerringly pick the only fielder at the boundary when he attempted a lofted shot off a spinner who had opened the bowling.

 

In 1996, I experienced the ecstasy in Bangalore when India beat Pakistan and Venkatesh Prasad memorably knocked out the off-stump of Aamir Sohail and the agony in Calcutta when the crowds disgracefully prevented the game from reaching its conclusion. The only thing I remember as an Indian fan about the 1999 World Cup is that we still managed to beat Pakistan, even though we did nothing of note otherwise.

 

In 2003, the majestic six by Sachin Tendulkar off Shoaib Akhtar finally exorcised the demons that had haunted Indian cricket ever since Javed Miandad hit a winning sixer off the last ball at Sharjah in 1986. But the final was a huge disappointment.

 

In 2007, a few friends suggested that we should go the Caribbean to the watch the tournament. Luckily, I did not go on that trip.

 

The 2011 World Cup has got under way. The only thought in my mind is, “Wake me up when we get to the quarter-final stage”. The way the format has been finalized, the protracted round-robin stage seems to be only intended to serve the purpose of determining which of the major teams will play whom in the quarter-finals because it looks very likely that the top eight teams (in terms of ODI rankings) will make the knock-out stage.

 

It is quite possible that a team that wins all its six preliminary matches may get knocked out in the quarter-final. I only hope that doesn’t happen with India just because one toss went the wrong way.

 

I would have preferred to have the top eight ranked teams play one another in an initial round robin, after which the top four from that round play another round robin and the top two then play a best-of-three final. But I guess minimizing the impact of luck and trying to ensure that the most consistent team wins are not the highest priorities for tournament organizers.

 

Seriously, the one thing I am most looking forward to is to watch Tendulkar in action. Playing in home conditions offers India the best chance they may ever have of winning the tournament and, hopefully, the one remaining gap in Tendulkar’s record will be filled. I don’t know if he will continue playing ODIs after the World Cup.

 

I hope he doesn’t. I would rather have him devote his energies exclusively to Test cricket thereafter. That will spare me the trouble of watching one meaningless bilateral or triangular ODI series after another.

 

But, then, who knows what the ‘glorious uncertainties’ of the game have in store for us?

 

(Raj Jayaram reached his peak as a cricketer at the age of 40 when he took two wickets and a catch playing a club match for The Weekend Warriors against The Geriatric Geezers and promptly retired from all forms of the game in compliance with Vijay Merchant’s advice that players should retire when people will ask “Why?” and not when they ask “Why not?” He blogs at http://midlifepopcorn.blogspot.com)