Veteran cricket commentator Saraiya dead

Mumbai: Veteran radio cricket commentator Suresh Saraiya passed away here on Wednesday following a heart attack.

Saraiya, 76, is survived by a daughter who lives in Paris. With his smooth voice, Saraiya enchanted the listeners when radio commentary was at its peak in the 1960s and 1970s before the advent of television.

Saraiya, who started his career as commentator when Bill Lawry`s Australians visited India in the late 1960s, was a meticulous and hard-working person who took a lot of pains to get the facts right by visiting the teams` net sessions before a Test match, according to fellow-commentator Raju Bharatan.

"He shared the mike with the likes of Anant Setalwad, Vijay Merchant and was the commentator on AIR during the Bangalore Test against the West Indies in 1974-75 when I did duty as the expert commentator," Bharatan said.

Saraiya, who retired as public relations officer in the Central Bank of India after 37 years, also had the distinction of being the first Indian commentator to do a live radio broadcast on Radio New Zealand when Bishen Bedi-led Indian team played a series in that country in 1976.

He also wrote cricket columns in Gujarati dailies `Jam E Jamshed`, `Janshakti`, `Janmabhoomi` and `Pravasi` for more than a quarter of a century.

The funeral is scheduled for Friday.