The pioneer of Urdu cricket commentary in the country, the legendary Muneer Hussain passed away on July 29 at the age of 84. Mr Hussain will long be remembered for the vital role he played in the promotion of the sport in Pakistan. Before he came on the scene, cricket commentary in the country was predominantly done in the English language, with distinguished names like Omar Kureshi and Jamshed Marker having made their mark in the field. However, it was through the efforts of Mr Hussain that the game was made accessible to the millions who could not speak or understand English, as he was one of the first persons to commentate in Urdu during cricket matches on both radio and television.
It was again because of the efforts of Mr Hussain that Urdu commentary was given an equal time slot on television, as previously commentary in the national language was limited to 10 minutes an hour, with the rest of the time dedicated to English commentary. The veteran commentator convinced the authorities that cricket, given its immense popularity in the country, deserved to be given intense coverage in Urdu, and so, during the famous 1978 home series against India, Urdu commentary was finally given an equal slot.
Mr Hussain’s unique style of commentary led to him developing a healthy fan following and laid the standard for those who entered the field after him. Besides leading the way in laying the seeds of Urdu commentary, Mr Hussain also founded Pakistan’s first Urdu cricket magazine Akhbar-e-Watan. In addition, he was honoured with various awards and accolades for his contribution to the sport by the Pakistan Cricket Board and the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation. With Mr Hussain’s passing away, a golden era in Pakistan’s cricket broadcasting has come to an end. It is a sad comment on the current state of cricket broadcasting in the country that no one in the field comes even remotely close to the standards set by the likes of Mr Hussain.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2013.
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