Friday, August 24, 2007

Recalling a ‘gentleman’s game’

It was almost a full house at the Gallery Sri Parvati. Visitors had come to listen to Badri Seshadri speak about street cricket played in Chennai. Badri came in early, complete with laptop and cricket bat. The lightweight WoodWing bat (most likely made in Meerut from wood imported from the U.K., and then sent overseas) was his treasured possession. He had brought it along to show the audience.

Present earlier, even before Badri arrived, were three students from the Asian College of Journalism – they had heard so much about Madras Day and Madras Week, and would I speak a few words on camera, they asked. I didn’t disappoint them.

Badri’s PowerPoint presentation was interlaced with clippings from the film ‘Chennai 600028’. He recalled his days as a child when he and his group of friends would play cricket, the days when Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Vishwanath and Vengsarkar ruled the roost. It was more of an interactive session really, with members of the audience chipping in with their impressions. A refreshingly different evening when people exchanged their views on what was once called the ‘gentleman’s game’. I too learnt a thing or two. For instance, I never knew that between 60 and 80 percent of the runs scored by batsmen came from shots to the off side, the reason why there were usually six fielders placed in that area.

Badri was co-founder of Cricinfo, the Web site bought by Wisden and now owned by ESPN. He was head of its U.K. operations first, then the Indian head. He is now the managing director of New Horizon Media, a book-publishing house that has made a mark with its Tamil imprint, Kizhakku Pathippagam. The English imprint, Indian Writing, has launched eight titles.

Clearly, Badri continues to be as passionate about cricket as he is about publishing. It showed in his presentation.

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