“I always wished to listen to Benaud’s commentary in a Test match where Bangladesh will play against Australia in Australia. I wished to listen to his thoughtful comments about Tamim Iqbal, Mashrafe Mortaza and Shakib Al Hasan. The one-off Test match between Bangladesh and Australia was not telecast here in 2003 and since then, Bangladesh has never toured Australia for a Test series and at present my wish will never be fulfilled as Benaud is no more among us”
Cricket hardly had any space in Bangladesh during my school days. Soccer used to rule the rooster here. Cricket only existed in Bangladesh Television (BTV) for one hour. During Sundays, BTV used to telecast one hour of cricket highlights. I and my father sat together and enjoyed that one hour watching cricket.
BBC Test match classics, the Austral-Asia Cup, Sharjah Cup and World Series Cricket were mostly telecast by BTV. The matches at Sharjah were staggering, but dull commentary and the monotonous camera work used to kill the charm. But hey, the BBC Test match classics and World Series Cricket came to the rescue.
The TV footages were sharp, attractive and the commentary was so lively and articulate that the charming factor never diminished for a second. Especially, the World Series Cricket had won my heart. It had all the ingredients to attract a school going child to love cricket – beautiful stadiums, coloured clothing, day-night cricket, stump-camera and stump-microphone, sweet sound of the bat connecting the ball was clearly heard, the brilliance of the television cameras from different angles of the ground and the commentators.
One commentator used to utter words like “…and he has done’em”, “first cherry and gone”, “bowled’em round his legs with a jaffa” with a sharp wit and distinctive voice.
I hardly missed the World Series Cricket highlights because I didn’t wish to miss that person’s commentary. While playing cricket all alone in my room, I tried to do commentary like that silver-haired, intelligent-looking guy who always showed up on TV before the start of a game in World Series Cricket. But it was never an easy task to imitate that person. I asked my father the name of that commentator. My father replied that his name was Richie Benaud.
In the course of time, many things changed: Bangladesh gained Test status, cricket had overtaken soccer as the premium sport in Bangladesh, satellite television networks stamped its authority all over the country, live cricket was not a big thing anymore, internet access became easier and it became easier for me to know more about cricket. I fell in love with cricket because of Imran Khan and the depth of love increased because of Richie Benaud’s commentary. Imran had retired in 1992, but Benaud was still there to keep me addicted to cricket.
During my Secondary School Certificate (SSC) exam in 1997, Benaud’s commentary and tri-nation tournament Downunder were a big refreshment. During my Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSC) exam, Benaud’s commentary and World Cup 1999 used to kill the boredom at best while the hectic days as a Medical graduate used to receive lighter moments by listening to Benuad’s commentary during the Australian summer. Benaud had been a part and parcel of my school, college and medical life. He was a must for me.
But suddenly, the voice of Benaud will never be heard. He has left this world once and for all. Death is the crude fact of life and none can avoid it. But some deaths are very hard to accept. Cricket has lost its voice and guardian and I have lost the voice to keep boredom at bay.
I always wished to listen to Benaud’s commentary in a Test match where Bangladesh will play against Australia in Australia. I wished to listen to his thoughtful comments about Tamim Iqbal, Mashrafe Mortaza and Shakib Al Hasan. The one-off Test match between Bangladesh and Australia was not telecast here in 2003 and since then, Bangladesh has never toured Australia for a Test series and at present my wish will never be fulfilled as Benaud is no more among us.
Rest in Peace, sir!