The heavens opened up on the evening of the last day in September as if to say we have not cried enough for Anandji Dossa, who passed away last week in New York at the age of 98.
Former Mumbai cricket captain Milind Rege (left) speaks at a condolence meeting to mourn the death of former statistician Anandji Dossa while Sachin Bajaj, Raju Bharatan, Sudhir Vaidya, Suresh Bafna, Kapil Malhotra, Madhav Apte and Anand Setalvad (extreme right) look on at Cricket Club of India in Mumbai on September 30, 2014. Pic/Atul Kamble.
Doubtless. the former statistician and scorer fully deserved every accolade showered on him at a condolence meeting organised at the Cricket Club of India's CK Nayudu Hall, the very venue where Dossa was felicitated 11 years ago on April 12, 2003.
Former India opening batsman Madhav Apte, who knew Dossa from 1946, the year he became a member of Jolly Cricketers club, recalled going to Dossa's place in Ghatkopar alongwith some friends to wish him on his 96th birthday and asking Dossa about their next meeting. "After four years," Dossa remarked, displaying his confidence level of making a century.
Veteran journalist Raju Bharatan remembered how Dossa was such a vital occupant of the commentators box. "One evening, Vijay Merchant had a query for him which required some research. The next morning, Anandjibhai brought along 23 books and started to work. He came up with a list and handed it over to Vijay Merchant, who looked at it and said, 'too many to read out.' "
Mentioning the number of balls against the runs scored by a batsman is common today, but it was not so in the old days. While listening to commentary of the 1967-68 India vs Australia series, an Australian commentator happened to mention the number of balls it took a batsman to reach his 50. Bharatan found that fascinating and asked Dossa why he didn't think about providing details like that. Dossa replied, "You never asked for it."
Apart from hailing Dossa for his fielding skills at a time when "a dive used to take place only where there was water," former commentator Anant Setalvad said that the sobriquet 'Mr Cricket' was an apt one for Dossa.
"Whenever I sat with him in the commentators box, he followed the game all the time. He knew as much as the fielders and the crowd as to what was going on and he could anticipate what the commentator would ask and be ready. He was a human computer who knew the game inside out. That is why I would call him 'Mr Cricket'."
Milind Rege recalled how kind Dossa was to everyone and had "immense passion" when it came to statistics. The former Mumbai captain called Sudhir Vaidya a worthy successor, who paid Dossa a great tribute by coming all the way from Pune to attend the condolence meeting.
Vaidya waxed eloquent on his guru as well and felt that wicketkeeper-batsman Dossa losing out to Madhav Mantri for a place in the Mumbai side in 1941-42 was a blessing in disguise. Mumbai's loss was indeed a gain for Indian cricket statistics.