Behind the byline

Rajan Bala in his heyday could sit with a man like Sunil Gavaskar and discuss the importance of footwork at a cricket crease, and more than once had he pointed out a tiny chink or two in the otherwise impregnable armour of the legendary opening batsmen, which ordinary journalists, either couldn’t even detect or were afraid to tell.

What’s wrong with sports journalism, asks the blog churumri, that it cannot even find space for the plight of one of its own.

Rajan, like KN Prabhu, R Mohan and Ayaz Memon to name just four, belonged to the generation of cricket writers that preceded mine — in the sense that they had all established their voices, their reputations, before the likes of Cricinfo and Rediff gave space and voice to a different breed.

The first time you stepped into a press box, you knew what Rajan brought to his byline: an integrity that was unquestioned, even when you sometimes disagreed with what he wrote. And it was the one lesson we took away from him — that your byline would be valued as long as you honestly write what you thought rather than serving as the mouthpiece of various special interests.

Spare a moment, a thought, for the man — he has deserved that, and more, from you.

5 thoughts on “Behind the byline

  1. Pingback: Rajan Bala RIP « Smoke Signals

  2. Amongst the writers you mentioned Ayaz Memon was good b’coz he knew his limitations on his knowledge of cricket and did good interviews. About Mohan, since I lived in Bombay I did not get to read him much so cannot really have an opinion on him.

    However I am sorry to say I do not agree about Rajan and KN Prabhu . You may have known these people personally but I know them only from their writings.

    As a reader I would call them pompous jerks. Rajan especially for some reason he was staunchly anti Kapil dev. He was leader of the retire Kapil movement of the early 90s. KN Prabhu’ writing was boring self indulgent when I used to read him the 80s he used to be stuck in the 60s.

    Prem as cricket writer I would rate you way higher ( esp your Match reports) than Rajan or Prabhu. Writers like Akash Chopra and WV Raman are far superior to any of these sports journalist of the 80s that I used to read. Rajan and KN Prabhu belonged to an era with a very few Media entities and non English sports press was virtually non existent. Hence they got more respect than they deserved.

    The incident that you mentioned were Rajan supposedly pointed out to SMG some chink in his armor. I can very well imagine what really happened, SMG might have been thinking “This joker is talking nonsense but he happens to be big chunk of the national press, so I have to indulge this guy and agree with him”

    • RIP Rajan Bala,Disagree ZRahul comparisions are always relative.Bala and Prabhu wrote when internet was non existent.Comparing Prem/Akash or others with them is not fair.As writers are entitled to their opinions,we as readers are entitled to ours.The number of words/datelines was much tougher meeting press deadlines and size of newspaper pages.While Internet writing is different.
      I agree with what Prem and others write,I also disagree,with what they write ,we also have absolute morons commentating/writing bent on verbal dysentry and they are supposed to be popular and have also played the game.

  3. Oh, my sincere prayers are for his recovery. Hope he survives this. Even recently, used to read him at Asianage. All of them you mentioned with R.Mohan being the favorite and those brilliant commentators those days like Balu Alaganan, Anand Setalvad, Sushil joshi etc
    ignited so much passion about cricket in those early 80s.

    Get well soon, Mr. Bala

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