Tariq Saeed, the man who revives Urdu cricket commentary in Pakistan | Cricket News

The life of a college student at the time was turned upside down when Tariq Saeed was hit by a cricket ball just above his right eye.

Until then, Saeed wanted to play cricket, play well, and maybe one day represent Pakistan, a dream of millions in the country but only a few of them have achieved.

But the bodyguard left a deep wound above his eye and put his life purpose on the ground.

“After that incident, I left cricket completely. I used to be afraid of the ball. Every time I batted, I would see two of the bowlers running towards me,” Saeed told Al Jazeera.

But, Syed added, those who are passionate about the game will find an excuse to stay involved and find a way for that strong bond to develop into a profession – or a smaller association – in cricket in motion.

“Growing up, I loved listening to some of the commentators on Pakistan games – Iftikhar Ahmed, Hasan Jaleel, Omer Kureishi, etc.

“A friend of mine took me to an exhibition match at the FC Academy after I quit the game [in Lahore] And let me make some comments.

“There, I got a lot of applause. Then there was also a National Floodlight Championship in Lahore for the top cricketers in the country. I made some comments on the PA system and Abdul Qadir there. [former Pakistan cricketer] and Imtiaz Cipra [sports writer] Later came to congratulate me. “

Syed pointed to that incident as a turning point, and he embarked on a journey that not only brought him many honors and travel, but also refreshed the Urdu commentary in Pakistan.

Tarek Said Urdu Cricket CommentatorTariq Saeed (right) shares the comment box with former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram [Courtesy of Tariq Saeed]

Born in Montgomery District (now known as Sahiwal District), approximately 112 kilometers (70 miles) from Lahore, Saeed grew up in a sports-centric culture. Named after Sir Robert Montgomery before the British ruled India, the area has produced many cricketers and hockey players.

“My cousin was very interested in hockey and cricket and I would go to his games. My father would tell me stories about Syed Mohammad Jaffer [former India hockey player and Olympian] He was born here and it got me interested in sports too. “

Fast-forward a few decades and Syed is now one of the most popular voices among cricket followers in the country.

With Pakistan’s current shortage of prominent cricket commentators, Saeed also ensured that cricket lovers’ love for Urdu commentary has now been rekindled.

“Comments on cricket games in Urdu were not even common before 1970. Even on the radio, it used to get a five-minute slot. Since the 1970s, it got 50% of the airtime.

“But after the explosion in Lahore [on Sri Lankan team bus in 2009], no one pays attention.

“Renaissance of Urdu commentary is very important for Pakistan’s international game. People miss this. Pakistan Cricket Board presents Urdu commentary for Pakistan Premier League [domestic T20 league featuring international players] This is a good thing.

“If you look at India, they have comments in as many as eight languages.”

Syed’s journey from competing in the Lahore Floodlight Championships to microphones at international competitions has not been smooth sailing. When he was 18, he was told he was too young when he approached Pakistan Radio for an audition and a chance to be part of the popular commentary team.

But two years later, when Syed tried his luck again, with a new producer in charge, the results were much better.

“I was told that there was a change in the sports producer of Radio Pakistan so I thought I would meet him. It was Khalid Waqar, the best radio producer in history. He did my audition and the rest is history. He He was my teacher, my mentor, and everything I learned after that was through him.”

In addition to cricket commentary, Syed also reported for the local Urdu-language newspaper and was DW’s correspondent in Pakistan. He also commented on hockey matches and the Kabaddi World Cup final between India and Pakistan, which made him realise that cricket is not the most popular sport in some parts of the country.

But like athletes, Syed said commentators need to take care of their body and mind, and most importantly, their throats, which are their bread and butter.

“I don’t drink cold or carbonated drinks during busy seasons. I don’t have ice cream either. On game days, I drink tea before every game. I often rinse my mouth with hot water. You need to take care of your throat, make sure you Do not eat anything sour or greasy.

“I also made sure I didn’t eat too much during the review because it would make me drowsy, which is never a good thing when you’re using the mic. You need to be fully focused and focused on what’s going on in the middle. Missing a ball or related event in the previous round, it’s going to be difficult as the game goes on.”

But Syed added that just following and reporting on what’s going on isn’t enough to keep listeners and viewers focused.

“If it’s a long game, like a Test match or a first-class match, you need to create a storyboard to keep the audience interested. In Twenty20, it’s all action, so there’s no time or need for that. But in the longer You need to be more focused, maybe as the players do, not only to make sure the audience, but you don’t get stuck.”

As Saeed celebrates cricket – both international and PSL – returning to Pakistan after a long drought, he remains content with the path he has taken after sustaining an injury above his eye.

“Almost 95% of the people you see related to off-field cricket are those who once wanted to be a cricketer but couldn’t make it happen. I’m very happy to be a part of that.”