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From Bedi to Kohli: a cricket writer’s journey

In this special episode, we chat with the deputy editor at The Hindu, Vijay Lokapally.

In his career spanning close to four decades, Vijay has had a ringside view of Indian cricket and written about the team and its performances from around the world. Long-time readers of The Hindu and Sportstar would have many fond memories from Vijay’s reports and tour diaries, which he infused with keen insight as well as his signature brand of humour.

We chat with Vijay about his illustrious career – from covering his first Test for a children’s magazine, tracking Delhi’s Ranji team in the ’80s, and spotting a young Waqar Younis in the same game as Imran Khan did… to being present at so many historic moments in Indian cricket and establishing himself as one of the leading lights in the field.

Talking Points:

  • His piece on Bishan Singh Bedi that got him his first break
  • The characters in Delhi cricket in the 1980s
  • His memories of Raman Lamba
  • The world of cricket journalism in the 1980s
  • Telegrams and trunk calls
  • The 1992-93 tour to South Africa – their first home series after readmission
  • The 1997 tour to West Indies
  • How the player-journalist relationship has changed over time
  • The challenges of writing on match-fixing
  • VVS Laxman’s 281
  • The thrill of Virender Sehwag
  • Observing a young Virat Kohli
  • And much, much more

Participants:

Vijay Lokapally (@vijaylokapally)

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan (@sidvee)

Ashoka (@ABVan)

Related:

Driven: The Virat Kohli Story – By Vijay Lokapally

The Virender Sehwag Story – By Vijay Lokapally

Not Quite Cricket – Pradeep Magazine’s book on match-fixing

Obituary of Peter Roebuck – By Vijay Lokapally

How a photojournalist of The Hindu cooked for team India – By Vijay Lokapally

A recent Ravi Shastri interview – Vijay Lokapally

A recent Sunil Gavaskar interview – by Vijay Lokapally

A recent Kapil Dev interview – By Vijay Lokapally

Mumbai cricket stories and legends – 81allout podcast with Clayton Murzello

 

3 Comments

  1. Vivek Bhandari Vivek Bhandari

    First things first, somehow I knew this episode would bring lots of memories. So I avoided listening for close to one month. And it was worth the wait, every single second.

    This episode had so much to share…In fact during every story, I could imagine ABVan and Sidvee just listening to the stories with their elbows on the desk (or thighs) and both their hands on the cheeks. (I don’t know if there’s a German word for this posture.)

    Secondly, I haven’t read him much as we used to get Cricket Samrat (a cricket magazine in Hindi) instead of Sportstar. Plus for most part of my growing years, we were in Jhansi (mid 90s) wherein we used to get that day’s paper (Times of India) from Lucknow around 1.30-2pm. In Cricket Samrat, there were two primary journalists, Chandrashekhar Luthra and Charanpal Singh Sobti along with a photographer Pradeep Mandhani. So my exposure to other cricket journalists has been very limited.

    Combining the two points, I was upbeat about this episode. And I was absolutely sold in the first few minutes when he mentioned how he was asked to step out of the press box when he tried to applaud a player. It shows how the older generation believed in the sanctity of the profession*.

    Then it was great to have someone with a Delhi background, the anecdotes he shared especially the pathetic state about DDCA. I suddenly remembered about the prize ceremony after one of the ODIs with England. David Gower introduced the guests of honor with “we have DDCA vice president Mr X, followed by yet another DDCA vice president Mr Y”.

    Raman Lamba: He was a special talent as many have mentioned in their recent tributes. I remember reading one such article by Aakash Chopra as well. One thing I want to mention (I think) that Times of India published an extra page for his tribute and then they persisted with it. I wish someone can confirm this.

    Match fixing: I think he was right that sometimes people just say with conviction but without any proof that a match was fixed. I remember reading Pundits from Pakistan (Rahul Bhattacharya) in which India were trailing 1-2 when the caravan reached Lahore for the double header. There everyone was convinced that India would win both the matches be it the cab driver, hotel, staff, and so on. And, of course, India won both the matches that were competitive.

    I loved how he remembers most of the stuff and then blamed his memory when he almost forgot Steve Bucknor. That was a cute moment. Also when he says “haaaaannnn”. I particularly liked the story when Mr VVK used to prepare food for the vegetarian Indian players. I have often heard stories how players like Srinath, Kumble used to survive on milk and potatoes. It also goes to show how BCCI has grown financially that they can support their players.

    And before I forget, I absolutely loved ABVan’s recollection of that mammoth partnership and how that guy used to put scores on that blackboard. India had 3 centurions, made 500+, and N Kulkarni picked a wicket off his first ball at stumps. What could possibly go wrong? Answer: Everything. We all feel his pain 🙂

    All in all, a great episode. Honestly, it didn’t feel like a 2-hours+ episode. Keep doing the great work 🙂

    *I’d expect a similar episode about ethics as and when you guys bring Mr Venkatraghavan or MR GRV on board. I remember Kapil Dev mentioning how he was (Venkat) strict as his first skipper.

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