After playing top-level cricket for over two decades, Venugopal Rao is currently the face of Telugu commentary. With Indian-language commentary gathering momentum, there has been a steady change in the cricket-viewing experience in India. The analysis is now available in multiple Indian languages to offer insights to the non-English/Hindi speakers as well. Venugopal Rao, of Vizag, is one of the experts helming the change in Telugu. Teja Kovvali talks to the former Indian player to find out more.
Being on air
While sharing that playing the game has always given him immense satisfaction, Venugopal Rao quickly asserts the fact that it’s not possible to do the same for too long. Switching roles as a Telugu commentator, the sportsman has been setting a paradigm shift towards Telugu commentary.
From sharing his thoughts over the playing surface and conditions to analysing the game situation from a team’s perspective, the former right-handed batsman enjoys adding value to the viewer with his insightful Telugu commentary.
Breaking the bubble
Telugu commentary might have gained popularity in recent times. However, the going wasn’t easy in the initial days. Taking the prospect deep into the markets came as a challenge and breaking the bubble was not an easy job. Fast forward a couple of years and the Indian-language commentary now has a wide following across regions. Venugopal Rao believes that the move by Star Sports, to air pre and post-match shows in regional languages, has played a key role in habituating the viewers towards Telugu commentary.
“In the beginning, people were sceptical about the value that Telugu commentary would bring to the table. As the days progressed, they grew more aware and started enjoying the easy-to-understand comments in their mother tongue. The cricket-related terminologies were no-longer alien and the viewers from rural areas too, developed a liking for listening commentary while watching the game,” the Vizag-based sportsman shares.
A piece on Andhra cricket
A veteran of 16 ODIs and 65 IPL games, Venugopal Rao believes that there is no dearth of talent in Andhra. The need of the hour though is for the cricket association to provide solid support to these players.
Quoting the examples of a few well-structured cricket associations in the country, Rao shares the importance of grooming and encouraging a talent by providing enough exposure. This is where, he believes, lies the difference. “It is not that our association isn’t supporting young players. However, there is always a scope for bettering the standards. Players like Ricky Bhui and KS Bharat are a few of the bright prospects from the state and if primed well, they can prosper to become exceptional players.”
The road ahead
Enjoying his stint with Telugu commentary currently, Venugopal Rao isn’t quite sure of his plans for the future. Sharing that he has always wanted to stay close to the public, the man from Vizag takes pride in his political journey with the Janasena Party. That said, the 37-year-old has kept his options open. Commentary, coaching, and administration are a few areas where he might work in the coming years.