Couch Talk at 100

The Couch Talk podcast came in to being to satisfy a long time wish of mine. The B.S. Report (of’s Bill Simmons) was a big motivation behind it. If he can, why can’t I? There was a niche still available even as there were plenty of cricket podcasts around, to explore things – as much as possible – outside the cricket field, and so I did.

I’m very grateful to David Siddall at World Cricket Watch for having me on his One Hand One Bounce podcast a few times and Gaurav Sethi at Bored Cricket for letting me host a couple of Boredwaanis, which allowed me to get comfortable with the idea of hosting a podcast and figuring out the technical stuff behind it. MacBook Pro, Apple headphones/mic, Skype, Audacity, Garageband and that’s it.

The two guests who appeared on the 100th episode of Couch Talk had a lot to do with the beginning, growth and where it is right now. Sid was kind enough to be on the 1st episode, provided constant feedback and ideas and helped me hone in on a style that I felt comfortable with. Jarrod provided early credibility to the show by appearing on it, and also helped me land a few guests that made the show gain a foothold, and provided plugs for it in as many places as he could, and found space for it at ESPN Cricinfo’s Cordon. I’m forever grateful to both these gentlemen.

Ankit Mishra who helped with the original design of the Cricket Couch website did set up the Couch Talk feeds and when the site design was changed, it was Sunny Mishra who helped with the rest. Thanks guys.

Steffi was kind enough to write about the podcast on her blog in its early days, and Kartikeya Date also did the same once Couch Talk had built up a body of work. It was awfully generous of Gideon Haigh to not just be on the show multiple times, but also provide a link to Cricket Couch in the very first post at the Cuts & Glances blog. Daniel Norcross of Test Match Sofa appeared on the podcast couple of times, allowed me some time on the Sofa and helped get the word out. Thank you all.

Henry Olonga was the first cricketer to be on the show, to talk about his traumatic yet beautiful story of human spirit. Several cricketers have been on since but that’s one podcast I’ll forever look back on fondly. An episode that is of great importance, and one of the reasons behind the conception of Couch Talk was the one with former Kiwi pacer Iain O’Brien where he bravely talked about his struggle with anxiety and depression. Thanks to both of them from the bottom of my heart.

I want to acknowledge three people who have tremendously contributed to Couch Talk with their time, thoughts and efforts. Bharathram Pattabiraman who volunteered to transcribe the shows and has done roughly 70 of the shows so far, without whose selfless generosity the show would not have gained as much popularity as it has. It takes about 2 hours to transcribe a 30-minute show. Shrikant and Kartikeya, who are my sounding boards, have spent countless hours on phone and chat, helping me sharpen the questions, and providing insights in to various issues.

Thanks are also to: Aravind Murali for composing the intro music (twice); Antoinette for guest hosting a show; the journalists (you know who you are) who went out of their way in helping get some of the guests; Sriram for goading me on when there were lulls.

Most of all, thank you all the listeners and readers. There are so many of you who have contributed to the show by sending in your questions for the guests, provided unvarnished feedback and shared it on social media and elsewhere, and have been along for the entire ride. Too many of you to list here but I want you to know that Couch Talk is as much yours as it is mine. Thank you.

Some numbers:

  • 85 different guests, representing 12 different countries have been on the 100 shows.
  • All 10 Test playing nations are represented in the guest list. Two associates (U.S. and Gibraltar) are represented as well.
  • India (29), England (18), Pakistan (9), Australia (8), USA (7), South Africa (4), New Zealand (3), Bangladesh and West Indies (2), Sri Lanka, Gibraltar and Zimbabwe (1).
  • 23 cricketers have been on the show, including 1 U-15 USA cricketer.
  • 891 Tests, 41,343 runs and 3,160 wickets amongst them (Rahul Dravid the highest run maker and Wasim Akram the highest wicket taker)
  • 3374 First Class matches, 158,159 runs and 5,313 wickets (Mike Brearley with most FC runs and Akram with the most FC wickets)
  • 2059 ODIs, 36,872 runs and 1,352 wickets (with Dravid and Akram leading the tally)
  • 15 cricket journalists, 14 writers, 11 bloggers, 11 commentators (including ex-cricketers), 7 cricket officials, 5 coaches, and 2 player agents.
  • 9 female guests.
  • 6 guests from non-full member nations.
  • Oldest guest – Tony Cozier (73 years old); Youngest guest -Vivek Narayan (15 years old)
  • 76 books (rough estimate) have been written by the guests with of course, Gideon Haigh leading the way with more than a third of it.
  • 15 guests have appeared more than once on the show. Ten of them twice, 4 of them thrice (Haigh, SidVee, Kartikeya, Dileep Premachandran) and Jarrod the most (5). Only cricketer to appear more than once is Ed Cowan (2).
  • It takes roughly 10-12 hours of work per episode, from contacting the guest, research, setting up the questions, the interview itself, audio editing and compiling, transcribing and finally publishing.

I was told by many of you now that one hundred shows have been published, I should re-mark the guard and go for the double, and I have started that process earnestly. The 101st episode has been recorded already (with Pakistan’s captain Misbah ul-Haq) and 3 more guests have been lined up (from South Africa, Australia and India).

I still get butterflies when the time is near to push that “call” button on my Skype. It is an indicator to me that I still care very much about how the interview goes, and whether I have made an honest effort in eliciting responses from the guests. The day those fluttering stop is the day I call an end to Couch Talk. Until then…

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