ARVIND SWAMINATHAN writes from Madras: Many years ago, before we began adorning papad-thin plasma screens on our walls, India’s finest cricket writer (no, not that one) described one of life’s small but great pleasures.
It was the time of Dyanora and Solidaire and EC. The cabinets were wooden or plywood. The TV sets came with rolling shutters that moved sidewards and protected the screens from dust and neighbourly envy.
And the remote control was thoughtfully screwed into the machine so that no one would misplace it.
“Parting the shutters from the middle, switching on the power and seeing the first images of a Test match in Australia flicker on—the green on the ground, the blue in the sky, the white on the clothes, the words on Channel Nine lips—it was like opening a small window into paradise,” said M.K..
Three days into the 2011 series, waking up at 5.30 in the morning, pressing a button which looks something like this ‘Ô’ on my remote and firing up my Tata Sky and turning to channel 413, is like opening a small window into hell.
Yes, hell of the cricket watching kind.
The green is still green, the blue is still blue, and the white is still white. The images are even better with hawk-eye and this and that. But it is the words of the Star Cricket commentary team—ranging all the way from bland to banal, from boring to boilerplate bullshit that gets me popping my Tazloc-H™ with my first cup of filter coffee.
Between them, Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri, Sourav Ganguly and Wasim Akram, ably aided by Tom Moody and some new kid in the studio, pile on more crap than AnyTownIndia at that vital hour of the morning.
Alternately cliched, egotistic, and ultra-nationalistic, and coated with khunnus, the commentary rarely rises above the ordinary and mundane. There is not one smart new or wild line or observation, and no turn of phrase whatsoever, except sometimes from Ian Chappell.
A lovely game (and a superb series) with infinite possibilities is being strangled by the finiteness of their collective vocabulary.
The monotone motormouths don’t know when to stop talking and let us savour the scenery. They blindly read everything a viewer can see on the screen, and I sometimes fear they might end up reading the “Vodafone Power to You” advertising signs at the bowler’s ends.
All this passes in the name of providing viewers with voices they can relate with, and there’s no denying the Australian accent is alien to many. But listening to the very ordinary Star Cricket bores and wondering what pearls the sparkling Channel Nine set must be dropping at that very moment, fills me with anger each morning.
This morning, when Wasim Akram said something in Punjabi to the effect of “different cattle of fish” I was convinced that if there was a New Year wish I could make four days in advance, it was that Sunny and Dada, Shaz and Waz would be deported from Down Under on grounds of syntax.
Photograph: The Channel Nine commentary team via Yahoo
Also read: Feng shui and the art of cricket commentary