In the pre-televison
era, the cricket-crazy nation of India was hooked on to radio to catch
live cricketing action. Suresh Saraiya was an iconic commentator whose
voice took the action to millions of people in India. A household name
in the cricket-crazy country, Saraiya delighted the listeners of radio
cricket commentary for well over four decades during which he broadcast
over 100 Tests and 150 One-Day Internationals, including four World
Cups, not forgetting a number of first-class games.
He was one of the most natural and original of commentators. With his
impressively articulate baritone, smooth delivery and distinct style,
Saraiya commanded a large fan following across the country. Often he ran
into strangers who identified him from his voice.
Saraiya’s commentary was very studied and meticulous. He never entered
the commentary box without doing his homework. He used to maintain a
register which had an assortment of facts and figures, something he used
brilliantly while commentating
Saraiya made his debut in 1969 at the Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai covering
the game for All India Radio. His 100th Test came at Nagpur in 2010 when
India played New Zealand.
There isn’t a cricket playing nation where Suresh hasn’t covered the
game. With the players, too, he shared a very close friendship. The
players always welcomed him whenever he approached them for an interview
or an informal chat. He spent a lot of time in his early days with Vijay
Merchant and (statistician) Anandji Dossa and they both instilled great
values in him. That is how he inculcated in himself a studied approach,
which ensured he never erred while talking about records during his
Outside the commentary box, he held the post of the Chief Public
Relations Officer for the Central Bank of India. His association with
cricket wasn’t just limited to the microphone as he played the sport for
Wilson College. He commentated with illustrious men such as Vijay
Merchant, Dicky Rutnagar and Devraj Puri – who was his idol.
When television arrived, broadcasters turned to him to hone his skills
on screen. But the glamour of the television didn’t attract him and he
continued his career with radio. He believed the real art of commentary
remained with the radio as the listeners did not have an idea as to what
was going on and it was a challenge for the commentators to create that
picture with words.
(As recalled by noted Statistician Sudhir Vaidya)