The first known voice of cricket commentary in Marathi, Bal Pandit, passed away due to prolonged illness on the night of September 18.
Known for his additions in the Marathi dictionary of cricket commentary, Pandit will be remembered by his fans for a stint of over four decades on All India Radio.
His achievements in live commentary for 40 years was also noticed by the Limca Book Of World Records.
His alternative words in Marathi, such as ‘aapat-baar’ for a bouncer ball, received wide popularity. He also performed commentary in English for a short period.
Being a first-class cricketer himself, Pandit’s commentary was clinical. He was known for focusing on the scope of improvement in a player in his commentary.
Commenting on how he shaped a generation of cricketers, Anil Walhekar, founder of Cricket Masters Academy and one of Pandit’s students said, “I was part of the P Vitthal coaching class where Pandit used to teach in the seventies. The coaching class was a tie-up between the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) and the Club of Maharashtra. Many players, umpires and professionals shaped their careers under his guidance.”
“Then, Maharashtra won the Talim trophy in 1983. It proved to be an amazing development for MCA and it never looked back. He had a vision. There are so many cricket coaching clubs today, but none of them have the stature of P Vitthal where Pandit taught… Pandit worked because cricket was his passion,” he added.
Pandit was also a prolific cricket writer and had 35 books to his credit. He authored several columns in newspapers and magazines, striking a chord with common people and enhancing their knowledge with illustrations. His translation of Sunil Gavaskar’s book ‘Sunny Days’ in Marathi became immensely popular.
His other books, ‘The Little Master’ and ‘Prakrami Daura’, not only won the praises of the general public, but also accolades at the national level.
Maharashtra government recognised his contribution and bestowed him with the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports award in 1978.
He was associated with MCA for a long time and played a vital role in the selection committee of the organisation.
According to Ajay Shirke, President, MCA, “Pandit made Pune a capable host for international matches. The initiatives taken by him to develop cricket in Maharashtra were inspiring. Pandit also laid the foundations in bringing up top standard stadiums.”
“The fact that he managed to handle a plethora of responsibilities, along with his commentary and writing, made him an idol to look up to. Those who heard him on radio, those who have witnessed the era of Indian cricket before television made its mark, will always remember Pandit,” he added.
with inputs from Aashay Khandekar