There is a distinct feeling of doom and gloom everytime India takes on England these days. Murray dispatched Somdev in New York. We all know what happened in the 4 test match series. After being walloped in the test series, the T20 international looked a good opportunity to rediscover the winning habit. For much of the match we seemed to have victory within our sights, but the whirlwind Morgan innings tilted the scales in their favor, and two Englishmen named Ravi Bopara and Patel to guide the English home. Cricket, has its ironies too, doesn’t it?
There were times in the test series which frustrated the Indian fan no doubt. Lack of match fitness, giving Bell a second chance on a perfectly legitimate dismissal, players getting injured, the Laxman-esque 40-ball 30 ending in a pull shot struck straight to the fielder, the inability to dominate a single session(leave alone a test match), throwing away advantageous positions(read the slump in the first innings of the second test when we folded cheaply or how we allowed a 100run partership to shift the momentum in their first innings of the same test), the tendency to lose a first ball wicket, etc etc. The list is endless. Yet, there were some other factors which caused as much irritation, if not more!
This irritation I’m talking about is pretty common if you think about it. Just reflect on the IPL and think what irritated you most. There were the endless boundaries to the point that they became mundane. Something similar could be said about the length of the tournament, which kinda got to you, especially since it began a week after an already long World Cup. Yet, these reasons for irritation dwarf, when compared to the moments when Laxman Sivaramakrishnan took the microphone. For the next 20mins one would be subjected to what can only be defined as “utter crap”. It is a testament to the crappiness of the crap he dished out during those months, that even now, after a summer full of English whitewash on the team, I shudder when I recall his commentary. Also remember, during the entire English debacle which all of us have been subjected to, we have managed to escape the wrath of Siva. You may wonder, why bring him in now? Because, when one speaks about tennis, one always starts with Federer (and maybe now Djokovic). Similarly, for attaining top spot in non-sensical commentary, we should give Siva his due.
Commentary is an art, as much important to the game like the skills of batting or bowling. Okay, I might have taken it a bit too far there, but point is that it is very important to any game. Try watching a game on mute, the silence will get to you. Sometimes, with a small glitch in the system leading to loss of audio transmission from the commentary box(but crowd noise on), there seems to be a huge void in the telecast. The role of a commentator is pivotal, not just in explaining the on ground action, but engaging the viewing crowd in a stimulating conversation. More often than not, people learn so much more about tactics, history of the game, insider information via this medium than any other. Commentators have a responsibility too. They need to be impartial and act within certain limits. Ask Dean Jones and Andy Gray, two fantastic commentators who paid the price for trying to add too much humor to their already good commentary skills.
The present quality of commentators in cricket is a major worry(like the future of India’s bowling). Harsha Bhogle and Alan Wilkins, god bless them, actually play a major role in directing the pundits on screen towards mature informative conversations. Yet, as the summer showed us, their efforts go in vain most of the time. Although not quite on the same level as Siva, we managed to get the mind-numbing insights of Wasim bhai and Sunny bhai during the test series. The huge gap in the quality of the discussion when Ganguly and Nasser were on screen when compared to when Gavaskar and Shashtri came on was frightening. Well, they say you need the bad lemons to really know how the good ones taste, but this is taking it too far in my opinion. As the T20 was about to the kick-off, I started noticing how far the quality had deteriorated.
After some decent introduction to the game(no doubt with a 1000references to the whitewash, the T20 champs taking on ODI champs etc etc), it was time for the pitch report. Wasim bhai came up with this amazing insight on how the track looked white. Pretty Sharjah-esque is what he told the world. I guess he meant it was a dry pitch with no grass. Good insight. What renders it useless is that he mentioned this around 20 times in the next 2 hours. The whitest pitch I have seen in England. There are no such pitches in England. Pitches like this are found on the subcontinent. England doesn’t generally have such pitches. It’s a white pitch. Sharjah-like pitch this. Sharjah-like pitch that. Okay dude, move on will you?
Much on the same plane as the white-Sharjah-pitch discussion was the one on how the pitches had been relaid in a different direction. North-South to East-West. Or something like that. They must have mentioned it a 150times during the entire match. I still don’t remember. They have a point in saying that maybe the 151st attempt would have made me remember it. I have a point in saying: I don’t care dude, just forget the North-east-west-south thing!
Finally, after such glorious insights on the surroundings, the match began. As Parthiv Patel cracked a boundary on the offside, Wasim bhai commented on Parthiv’s superior backfoot shots and his favorite punch through the offside. Now, I am not saying that it is not remotely possible that Wasim Akram follows Parthiv Patel’s batting. Don’t get me wrong, I ain’t saying that. Just that, one, it is a bit unlikely. Two, as far as we know, Parthiv Patel doesn’t really have a favorite shot. If he does, he doesn’t really know what it is.
Ajinkya Rahane played a great innings. Fearless and ready to take the fight to the opposition, he was the embodiment of everything India lacked in England until then, including runs. As he struck his first boundary, lo n behold, Wasim bhai promptly labelled the favorite shot tag to the swivel-on-hips-pull-shot(the same which fetched him the boundary). What’s more, as the ball sped to the boundary, Wasim bhai exhibited his command over the language: Just look at the noise!!!!!!! It’s amazing.Very appropriate that such was expressed in the land of the English
Wasim bhai didn’t stop there. Having classified the favorite shots of both openers, he backtracked and later labelled the hook behind square as Rahane’s favorite. Too much favoritism if you ask me!! What’s more, having doted on Patel’s abilities with the bat for a while, he coolly put Parthiv’s dismissal as “obvious”. “It was a slower ball, and “obviously” Parthiv Patel doesn’t pick the slower one”.
Time for a change in the commentary box. A huge sigh. Its gonna be Harsha Bhogle with Sunny Gavaskar. Groan. Oh what have we done to deserve this? Enter Sunny Gavaskar, who in all respects has had a distinguished commentary career. Its just that, of late he’s been guilty of letting his mind wander around and create such pathetically boring on-ground experiences of his own time that it makes us want to shut him in a closet. His ability to state the obvious is becoming stuff of legends(close to Siva).
He starts with how India should have played Yusuf Pathan. He can hit 2 15-rum overs at the death of an innings. 2 15-run overs. That’s 30 runs.He was good at math, one can tell.
Next, he focusses on the singles India have been taking. Great way to rotate the strike and keep the scorecard ticking along. ”6 singles of every ball in an over will get you an average of 6 an over”-It’s not even funny, it’s just Sunny.
Feeling harddone, Wasim bhai returned to promptly move ahead in this race of legends. Harsha weaved a nice topic of how the Rajasthan Royals duo out on field were showing great commitment, and that this could be an input for the Royals to push Rahane up the order. When Wasim bhai was asked his opinion, he replied: ” He’s got talent, no doubt.”
End of over number 11.
Can you see it now, Mr. Anderson? All this, inside 11 overs. And they say T20 is killing the game. Blah!
P.S: Thanks to Bumble, Harsha, Nasser, Shastri and Wilkins who still keep us sane.
P.P.S: Rameez Raza has never been and should never be classified as a commentator. If he is, he snatches pole from Siva.