Cricket as a novelty, an obsession, and as literature: interview with Samanth Subramanian

81 All Out  > Conversation, Listen >  Cricket as a novelty, an obsession, and as literature: interview with Samanth Subramanian

In this episode, we chat with journalist and author (and once full-time cricket journalist) Samanth Subramanian.

A long-time cricket fan who began his career as a sub-editor at Cricinfo, Samanth rewinds to the time he fell in love with the game – in the mid-1990s – and gives us a terrific overview of his relationship with cricket over the years. As a fan, a full-time cricket journalist, an observer from a distance, as well as someone who dips into the game to take in its pleasures.

Talking Points:

  • The novelty of cricket in the mid-1990s
  • Sri Lanka’s World Cup champions and the allure of Sanath Jayasuriya
  • The formative influence of the Picador Book of Cricket
  • Prank-calling Ian Healy in Chennai
  • Landing a job at Cricinfo
  • Ghost-writing a column for Krishnamachari Srikkanth
  • The decision to quit full-time cricket journalism
  • Following cricket from abroad
  • Profiling Lalit Modi
  • Sachin’s final Test
  • The thrill of reading An Autobiography of an Unknown Cricketer
  • Cricket trivia
  • … and much more


Samanth Subramanian (@samanth_s,

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan (@sidvee)


The Confidence Man – long-form profile of Lalit Modi – Samanth Subramanian

India’s Lavish Farewell to Sachin Tendulkar – New Yorker – Samanth Subramanian

Unknown Cricketers – The Cricket Monthly – Samanth Subramanian

‘You little beauty’ – 81allout podcast on the 1996 World Cup

Fly Lara Fly – The Cricket Monthly – Rahul Bhattacharya

The Star We Don’t Know – The Cricket Monthly – Sidharth Monga

‘Every generation needs its writers to tell its stories’ – 81allout podcast with Sharda Ugra

From Bedi to Kohli: a cricket writer’s journey – 81allout podcast with Vijay Lokapally

The things we remember, the things we forget – 81allout podcast on cricketing recall

A splendid team effort pays off – ESPNcricinfo – Kris Srikkanth

Question time: my life as a quiz obsessive – Samanth Subramanian

Books discussed:

Following Fish: Travels Around the Indian Coast – Samanth Subramanian

This Divided Island: Life, Death, and the Sri Lankan War – Samanth Subramanian

A Dominant Character: The Radical Science and Restless Politics of JBS Haldane – Samanth Subramanian

Picador Book of Cricket – edited by Ramachandra Guha

The Art of Cricket – Don Bradman

Brightly Fades the Don – Jack Fingleton

Pundits from Pakistan – Rahul Bhattacharya

Chinaman – a novel – Shehan Karunatilaka

A Corner of a Foreign Field – Ramachandra Guha

War Minus the Shooting – Mike Marquesee

Autobiography of an Unknown Cricketer – Sujit Mukherjee



3 thoughts on “Cricket as a novelty, an obsession, and as literature: interview with Samanth Subramanian”

  1. Lovely episode

    Pardon my ignorance, but to be really honest, I had not heard much of him as a Cricinfo writer, maybe because he left CI pretty early. I remember during that time I was still buying real cricket magazines and not exactly switched to online medium.

    But this episode is a blast, as he himself mentions in the end. It is the most references you must have left for the viewers. And it is the perhaps the first time that I have heard the mention of a plastic ball in any of the podcasts so far. And he had a favorite cricketer from another country, which is indeed surprising considering boys of that age just want their own team to win 🙂

    As a sidenote, a CI BBB moderator seems like a dream job to so many like me, but when he mentioned the first paycheck he got, it left a lump in the throat. And that Cheeka story (thanks for providing its link) shows. That article is really hilarious if you know the context. And I liked how he didnt shy away from not telling the names of the cricketers/companies involved in different stories.

    The mention of Mohd Kaif reminded me of that IPL auction and also the movie Taxi 9211 (Nana Patekar, John Abraham, etc.)

    Lastly, thanks for sharing that book; sounds really interesting.

    1. Thank you. We aim to introduce listeners to writers outside the mainstream too. So happy you liked this particular episode. And as you said, we haven’t discussed so many books with any other guest.

  2. Another great podcast which I enjoyed listening. In these crazy times i am finding your podcast fantastic and it is keeping me engaged with cricket passion I got.

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