With Kishore Bhimani’s death, an era in sports journalism and cricket commentating has come to end. For years, particularly in the 1980s and 90s, Bhimani was one of the most prominent and popular voices of cricket on television and radio, and one of the most respected and well-loved writers of the game. On October 15, he breathed his last in a private nursing home in Kolkata after contracting COVID-19. He was 80 and is survived by his wife and son.
Bhimani’s death plunged the sports community in the country into gloom. Legendary spin bowler Bishen Singh Bedi, former captain of the Indian cricket team, Tweeted: “RIP Kishore Bhimani... he was one of the good Old Fashioned Crkt writer who took Crkt writings like a player who takes to playing...Condolences to his Spouse Rita & Son Gautam.. God Bless All Always.. Fondly.”
After graduating from St Xavier’s College, Kolkata, Bhimani studied at the London School of Economics before joining The Statesman in 1964. He soon established himself as one of the finest sports writers in the country with an encyclopaedic knowledge of cricket. Generations of cricket lovers avidly followed his elegant prose in print and his engaging commentaries on television and radio. His style of writing and commentary was unique and anecdotal. He would not just write/talk about the game, but also bring in other subjects like the weather and even important events of the day. While commentating in his chaste, flawless English, he would often regale listeners with short digressions on his personal encounters with cricketers and other anecdotes. While purists of the game may object to such a style, these little diversions, nevertheless, added colour to the environment and was loved by listeners. He was among the most high-profile sports journalists of his time.
Saba Nayakan, a senior sports writer and vice president of the Asian Sports Journalist Federation, remembers two generations of sports writers growing up reading Bhimani’s articles. “At that time The Statesman was the number one English paper in Kolkata and Eastern India and we all used to read Kishore Bhimani’s writing. He brought in a literary flair in cricket writing. Even when he may not have been technically sound, he made up for it with the beauty of his language. His opening paragraph in every copy he wrote was just fantastic and compelled one to read the entire story. And as far as his commentary was concerned, he was a joy to listen to,” said Saba Nayakan.
Bhimani was also a keen follower of hockey, tennis and horse-racing. He was a regular at the race courses and could talk extensively about a horse’s breed, its specialty and even its owners. Though he had written several books, including one on India’s tour of West Indies in 1976 titled India’s Caribbean Adventure, his most well-known book incidentally was a non-sports novel titled The Accidental Godman.