Chennai: From spinning a web around batsmen of the '80s with his leg-breaks to weaving magic with words in English and Tamil in cricket commentary today, Laxman Sivaramakrishnan has done it all.
In a freewheeling chat with 'News Today', the former Indian cricketer talks about his newfound love for Tamil commentary in TNPL and shares his views on fortunes of Tamilnadu players, R Ashwin and Dinesh Karthik, in the ongoing India vs England Test series.
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
Q: Tell us about your experience with Tamil commentary.
A: It is different. We are still learning the art of Tamil commentary. Initially, I did not think I will like it. But, I'm enjoying it immensely now. Tamil commentary has brought out a different personality in me. I enjoy using phrases like 'mooku mela raja' and 'dhillukku dhuddu' on live television, which we use frequently in Tamilnadu nets and Ranji matches. In English commentary, we need to be a bit formal to cater to audiences around the world. But here, we can just loosen up, crack jokes and have fun.
Q: How different is it commentating with ex-cricketers compared to someone like RJ Balaji or Harsha Bhogle?
A: Be it RJ balaji or Harsha Bhogle, not having a co-commentator who has not played international cricket is not a demerit. Sometimes people might tend to say 'ivan cricket aadala, ivanuku enna theriyum?' (He has not played cricket. What does he know?). But, their job is to entertain and bring out the best from their co-commentators who have played international cricket. If they do this well, they definitely belong in the commentary box. At the same time, having not played at the highest level, their attitude must not be that they know everything about cricket. It's all about learning. As cricketers, we tend to become serious during commentating. So, even we can learn from Balaji and Harsha's sense of humour.
Q: Who do you share the best chemistry with? Among current players who do you think will make a good commentator?
A: I used to get along really well with Ravi Shastri when he used to commentate. We have been friends for the last 38 years. But, in my experience, Ian Bishop is the best commentator. He is very precise and makes a really good impact. He will look to provide an insight as to what is happening on the field by drawing from his experience. When you see cricket on TV, the visuals are already there. It's how much you add to it that is important in commentary and Ian Bishop does that exceptionally well. Among current Tamil cricketers, I think Ashwin will make a superb commentator.
Q: Dinesh Karthik was under MS Dhoni's shadow all this while. Today, in England, is it finally DK's time to shine?
A: It is a great opportunity for Dinesh Karthik. With Saha not fit, he will not get a better chance than this. If he does well in England's swinging and seaming conditions, he can seal a spot for himself in the team. The next time he won't have to wait for somebody to get injured to get a place in the team. Today, even though he is in his 30s, age factor can be thrown out of the window with the entry of parameters like the yoyo test. As long as he is fit, he can play.
Q: With the entry of wrist-spinners like Kuldeep, is R Ashwin being sidelined despite his tremendous record?
A: Ever since T20 was introduced, wrist-spinners have been doing better than finger spinners, especially in T20 leagues like IPL. They have the ability to turn the ball in any pitch. So, all International sides prefer wrist-spinners. India is lucky to have two impressive wrist-spinners - Kuldeep and Chahal at the same time who help us win matches. We have a huge advantage to have Ashwin also. So, if you ask me, I will play Ashwin in Tests and keep Kuldeep for the limited overs matches.