Sankari Prasad Basu is better known for his books on the history of religion and religious institutions in colonial Bengal. But before he achieved fame as an authority on Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda and Sister Nivedita, he used to be the finest writer on cricket in Bengali. Basu can be described in the same vein as John Arlott evaluated Neville Cardus– as ‘the first writer to evoke cricket; to create a mythology out of the folk hero players; essentially to put the feelings of ordinary cricket watchers into words’. Basu joined Shibpur Dinabandhu College as a lecturer in Bengali literature in 1953 and soon started coaching the college cricket team. His next workplace was the University of Calcutta, where he taught ‘Radhatattva, Krishnatattva, Sakhitattva’ to graduate students at the same time as writing on ‘Bradman, Larwood, Hall, Ramakant Desai, Subhas Gupte’ in the…show more content… But numerous cricket-loving kids like me, who could not visit the cricket ground at will, had to satisfy the craving by listening to radio commentary. There was no television. We received live news of cricket matches through Ajayda, Kamalda’s commentary the same way as the blind Dhritarashtra of the Mahabharata was updated of the Kurukshetra war by Sanjay. This was not enough. We earnestly waited for the morning newspaper, and finished reading the sports page breathlessly as soon as it arrived… But this was not a mere journalist! The style of writing too was beyond what regular journalists were capable of. This was a new direction. This was the first time we realized that cricket could be literature.
Basu was very much aware of cricket’s literary tradition. In the introduction to Romoniyo Cricket, he wrote that ‘the best innings played in the long and glorious history of cricket has not come off the bat, but off a pen’. This indeed evokes the poem by E.V. Lucas, ‘More mighty than the bat, the