Saturday, March 23, 2013

Scorer Mani – The Numbers man for Radio Australia

The man from Vellore strikes a ton with the ABC and is all set for his 6th and 7th Ashes series this year
Photo Above: Scorer Mani seen in the ABC commentary box at  the India v Aus test at Chepauk in Feb 2001

Almost 40years ago, in a first division match played at the University Union Ground in Madras, S Venkataraghavan, then playing for India Pistons gave a blank score sheet to a young 16year old boy and asked him to score for their team in that match.

This surprise call from the cricketing great was encouragement enough for the Vellore born Sankara Subramanian ( now popularly referred to in cricketing circles as Scorer Mani) to take up to scoring as a career very early on his life. There was no looking back for him, though the ride has  not always been smooth with his share of controversies.

During his school days (Muthialpet), Subramanian would go every weekend to the ground where Venkat was playing, to watch him bowl. And it turned out that Venkat himself would one day give him an opportunity that was to later become a career for this enthusiastic kid.

Born in Vellore, Scorer Mani lost his father when he was just four and moved to Madras to stay with his uncle.
He was a top order batsman in his school days (he practised at the Corporation ground in Nungambakkam and played for a team that was seeking to gain an entry into the TNCA league) but soon gave up playing to become a professional scorer.

He started full time scoring for first division teams in 1978 when he was just 20years old with India Pistons for whom he scored for 11years. He later moved on to India Cements for whom he took the job of scoring for their various teams for 12years.

Ranji Trophy
A couple of year later came another big moment for Mani. He made his debut in Ranji Trophy as a scorer in the match between TN (captained by none other than Venkat) and Hyderabad. He was paid a princely ‘Scoring Fee’ of Rs. 100per day that a decade or so later went up to Rs.2000 per day ( Radio Australia pays him several times that fee!!!).

Scorer Mani was there at Chepauk on the last day of the tied test between India and Australia that took place here in1986. A year later, he scored in another close finish between the very same teams, this time in the World Cup 1987 opener when Australia beat India by one run.

Almost a decade later came a big moment for Mani and his Scoring fraternity. In a Ranji match between Tamil Nadu and Hyderabad, Mani casually suggested to Azhar in Tamil ( yes Azhar and Mani converse in Tamil) for official recognition for Scorers. Within three months, there was an examination conducted in Ahmedabad for Scorers.

The biggest break-Radio Australia and his ton with them
In 1998, when Australia came to India, Radio Australia was looking for a scorer for the test match at Madras. Just one day before the start of the test here, All India Radio suggested Mani’s name and his career took a dramatic positive turn. Impressed with his scoring capabilities at the Chepauk test, ABC asked if he could go along with the Radio team to cover the entire series of 1998. And he did.

Overseas Tours
In 1999, ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) asked if he could make it to Srilanka to cover the three test series. Thus, Mani, who did not even have a passport at that time, went on his first overseas cricket tour and covered the series for Radio Australia.

Following this series, ABC signed a three year deal with him as the official scorer for their tours which has since seen a couple of more three year extensions.

Mani’s Weekly Silence
What started off as a one off test match has now extended to well over a century of test matches for Radio Australia with Mani becoming a favourite of Jim Maxwell (the renowned Aussie broadcaster). In one such conversation, Mani asked Maxwell to take care of his voice as he was on the mike through the day including post day broadcasts.  James ( Maxwell) retorted if he himself could control talking. It was then that Mani decided to remain silent for a few hours every day.

That later expanded to his now famous ‘Complete Silence’ once a week. Every Thursday, even when there is a Radio Australia broadcast, Mani does not open his mouth using a chit (and these days text messages) as a communication tool.

To date, Mani has been a scorer for Radio Australia in well over a 100 international matches. He has also scored in 130other International matches played in India for the TNCA/BCCI.

Face off with India Cements
A controversy in a Hindu Trophy match in 2003 led to India Cements, for whom Mani had been the official scorer for over a decade, pulling the plug on him. And thereby ending his direct association with the TNCA.

But putting that behind him, Mani has over the last decade taken the responsibility of managing the club tournaments that are becoming increasingly popular in the city. While many in the club cricket circle wonder about his lack of attention while scoring in these matches and the errors that creep in every now and then, Mani is a lot more serious in the international matches and is adored by his team mates in the ABC box for his immediate stats data that he pulls out. From maintaining it manually in the past, Mani now has a lap top where he logs in all the scores of international matches spending about 2-3hours every day for this data collation.

 Into the future, Scorer Mani is hopeful of playing an integral role in the successful conduct of these tournaments.

Over the last four decades, Mani has played varied roles- from Sales man at school and college to a Journalist (and a Photo Journalist) writing and sending in photographs for Dinamalar and Kalki. 

His association with VB Chandrasekar started well over two decades ago in a first division match (VB was playing for Chemplast at that time) at the end of the season. Seeing VB not wanting to open in that 2nd innings, Mani called in VB and informed him that he was just 35runs short of reaching a landmark achievement of 1000runs for the season (even though Mani was not the official scorer of Chemplast that year).  A decade later, VB roped in Mani as an administrative person to manage his Nest academy for a few years.

However, the role he has most cherished has been the one of being the official scorer of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation covering international matches played by Australia all over the world.

Mani’s best matches as a scorer

Tied Test in 1986

Kumble’s 10wicket match at Delhi

Saeed Anwar’s 194 at Chepauk

VVS’s 281 at Kolkata

Highlights of his Scoring career

5 Ashes Series

5 World Cups

Overseas Assignments in South Africa, Australia, Srilanka as part of Radio Australia Team

110tests for Radio Australia, 130tests for TNCA/BCCI

Losing Peter Roebuck in South Africa
One of his not so happy moments was the loss of ABC’s Peter Roebuck in November 2011 during the test series in South Africa when Scorer Mani was part of the Radio Australia team.

In the last couple of years, Mani has been engaged as the official scorer for the Chemplast Group. On the overseas front, Scorer Mani is looking to continue his engagement with Radio Australia and is all excited to cover a couple of more Ashes series later this year, first in England and then in Australia.

With BCCI’s controversial move to keep Radio Australia away for the current India v Australia series, Mani has been seen of late at Amir Mahal ground in Royapettah ( Madras) rather than being at the Ferozshah Kotla alongside his favourite team mate James Maxwell of the ABC.

For a man from Vellore who lost his father at the age of four, this truly has been a remarkable career to be the man that Radio Australia goes to for all the numbers!!!



Prem Pandurangam said...

Excellent article on the one and only "Ashes" Mani!

karthik s said...

yes i know mani sir; enthusiastic, enterprising and always full of info. this is a very good article on him. cheers!

Anonymous said...

Very interesting blog about an erudite scorer. I will forward this to my cricketing circle.

Balkrishna Misquin said...

Very good write up...
Great work Mani... Go for double ton... I am sure God will help you.... for all the efforts you have taken... My best wishes

R.Subramanian said...

I WISH TO MENTION THAT MR.MANI's Elder sister Mrs.Rajeswari Janakiraman was solely responsible for the family coming up. She retried from a Senior position in Madras Telephones which she joined after their father's demise. She has passed SSLC.His mother, at a later date, managed the sales of aavin milk depot in Tambu Chetty Street.

To an extent his Chitappa(husband of his mother's younger sister) help the family. He was the Branch Managerof Grindwell Norton Ltd.

this is for information.

R.Subramanian (cousin son of his mother's younger brother)

R.Subramanian said...

Mr.Mani's Elder sister, Mrs.Rajeswari Janakiraman was responsible for the family coming up. She retired from a senior position in Madras Telephones.

the family was also supported by his mother who was selling Aavin milk from a depot in Tambu chetty Street

His chitappa (husband of his mother's younger sister) supported to an extent. He was the Branch Manager of M/s.Grindwell Norton Ltd.

This if for information
R.Subramanian (cousin son of his mother's younger brother)
My father whom he is referring as uncle was working in Mumbai and wasnot responsible.

PRabhu S said...


Thanks for the update.


Ram Tnr said...

Just read your article on Coaches…..Unfair criticism of VB...there are others too who skip matches, unfair to blame him when players don’t perform, what can he do when they don’t perform, does this mean coaches only make players, what about Pakistan team where did bowlers like wasim and waqar come in, it si players who must perform and not coaches, unfair to find silly loop hole just to criticize a good man like VB…completely unfair ....


Allwin J v said...

I have interest in scoring can anyone guide how to become a scorer for state level tournaments. I have been scoring for many local tournament matches in the city.