Saturday, January 28, 2006

The hunt for a good sports-magazine!

When my father and uncle were in school, the pre-eminent sports magazine of those days was called "Sport and Pastime". I remember an old issue lying around in Achamma's house which had Conrad Hunte on it's cover, and it took me to an era I had not even imagined back then - the late 50s and 60s when the Windies dominated under the great Sir Frank Worrell, and Gary Sobers was taking his first steps enroute to future greatness.

My love affair with Sportstar began sometime in the mid 80s (yes, that early) around the time the Indians won the B&H World Championship of Cricket in Australia. This lasted more than a decade and a half into the next millenium. Some time in the late 80s they added a poster instead of their normal centrefold, and their popularity rose unbelievably. Many a poster graced the walls of our flat in Bombay, not to forget the "cousins room" in Coimbatore (Today I can only think of that room as Achan's pooja room). Everyone had to get their copy of Sportstar, and even in class we'd wonder who would feature next on the poster. I cannot forget how the Sportstar would be hidden away from my prying eyes during exam-time, only for me to hunt (or rather smell) it out from a variety of places ranging from the kitchen to the store-room!

Many an eminent writer contributed his columns, including Gavaskar and Harsha Bhogle - Bobby Simpson still is a regular. The lenswork of Indian sport (mainly the cricket/cricketers by VV Krishnan) was amazing, while the photos from abroad were generally by AllSport. I think Stan Smith's Tennis lessons and Jack Nicklaus' golf tips (comic-style) are still going strong! Those were the days before the internet came along and we depended on our loyal Sportstar for sports news from foreign lands.

The special countdowns to the Olympics, World Cup soccer and the cricket World Cup were read from cover to cover and then bound for future reminescences. They brought alive the magic of Pele, the Windies cricketers in the 70s and 80s, Jesse Owens, the rivalry between the Kaiser and the Flying Dutchman, and so many flashbacks from the past!

However, with the advent of the internet, as they say, we have the world at our fingers and I guess I've become more net-dependent for all news and articles. Sportstar (like jap-cakes and jilebis) is now a memory of days-gone-by, savoured with zest when the opportunity comes along (like in India this winter!).

Cricinfo's new magazine (I just read their inaugural issue) comes as a breath of fresh air. I have realized I am addicted to good cricket journalism. Achan and Amma were quite amused by my innumerable trips to the local magazine vendor to check whether he had received the magazines! Couldnt believe that Zatta wrote the cover story on Dravid - but then he's hot on the cricket-writing scene with his chronicle of the Indian tour of Pakistan in 2004.

Cant get enough of this stuff! That's all I can say! I'm even tempted to request A-A to subscribe and keep the issues for me when I go home next!

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