Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Endless Babble On TV - Cricket Commentary

It is now amazing me how much is being discussed on cricket in the country with so little outcome. It makes me dizzy to just see them, hear them. Every day in every channel there are all kinds of people discussing the World Cup, their teams, their strategies, their fears and doubts, the fashion, who went to practice, who missed it, who should do what and for who - God its just too much.

What beats me is how can these guys talk so much? Even if they are getting paid, how can you discuss the same thing endlessly without enough information, without any purpose most times. Take away the Test cricketers who have experience and can speak from that - even there many cannot speak because they are bad speakers - and then you have everyone from the yesteryear vamp to today's school kid giving his opinions.

Top of the list are Harsha and Charu who should be given something like a Padmashri for their outstanding service in commentating on the game for so long and still doing it. I frankly prefer Harsha in the travel show he does where he gets to be himself and where his sense of humour is not wasted on his fellow commentators who are generally cricketers. However like the good old Dr. Narottam Puri, who is still around commentating (did he get a Padmashri? but he made some fantastic doomsday predictions in our game against England and they all came true, sadly for us), they might be around for a long lone time as well, discussing, predicting, analysing the game to death. I wonder how they do this cooped up with ex-cricketers, who to my knowledge are not the most scintillating company but good luck you two.

Next come the A list cricketers who commentate knowledgeably, who try to give some new twist to the game with some insight or another, who try to predict and analyse the game, the pitch, the rules, the players. They are okay, at least the ones who can speak and who have a sense of humour - Gavaskar, Manjrekar (Shastry I think is getting predictable and boring) in the Indian front and I don't know who is commentating on the foreign front (I used to enjoy listening to Ian Chappel, I think the English commentators are good and fun like Nasser Hussain, the Kiwis are rather crazy). But then there are a whole B list cricketers who are not good at the analysis of the game nor are they good at speaking - I mean they are rather boring to listen to. This crowd led by the redoubtable Arun Lal is always there, with their neither here nor there comments and predictions. I am wary of this crowd because some of them make some massive claims and predictions just to incite some interest but it is all too thin. Somehow I would like someone with more wit to make the commentary more interesting. More insight to make us understand the kind of stuff like 'ball is reversing' and other great mysteries of the game.

The most dangerous lot is the lot of journalists who have to don the mantle of commentators. Now this is a dangerous lot because they are armed with the knowledge of having reported the game and thereby thinking they have understood, seen it all and made kings of paupers - without really understanding the game. They flaunt their closeness to the players, the long time they have spent reporting the game and pass opinions and judgments freely and authoritatively. I heard Boria Mazumdar the other day speak of how well he knew Sachin whom he has seen for the last eighteen years and how he found him incredibly focussed - so focussed before the match that what they began as a two minute chat went for one hour! Save the exception of Ayaz whom I can tolerate because he does throw up some interesting perspectives and also stays within his limits I cannot stand the cricket journalists who speak as if they know everything when it is quite clear they know nothing. And their pompous, know-it-all behaviour does not help.  Now there is a huge breed of these experts here on regional tv as well and that drives me nuts.

And then comes the sports bureau guys and gals who have their fake indulgent smiles when the cricket news comes on and their panels which include Mandira Bedi and others of her ilk - all trying to predict, to whip up some energy, some eyeballs in a tournament that has so far produced - four good matches in all I should think and not too much to look forward to in terms of quality. This World Cup is about mediocrity and that is why every team has a chance - it is only how badly the other team will do on the given day. there will be no razor edge finishes, no wars of attrition, no sustained quality on display as I see it. Just hope that something happens and we are through!

And so we move on, from game to game, in search of some bright, fresh spark,something that is not conjured up, something where everyone can sit up and say - Wow, that was something! And while at it, save ourselves from the commentators.


Diwakar B R said...

Very correct, Hari. You wouldnt believe, I actually mute my TV set and do not listen at all to the commentary, leave aside the discussions and analysis.

The player folks think that commentating is just a natural path post their retirement from the game and everyone can become a Greig, Benaud, Chappell or Lawry. The most sophisticated 'chor' of our lot is Ravi Shastri and there is NOTHING NEW that he speaks at any point during the game. I agree that Manjrekar is one guy who not only has an opinion and can express it, but has the ability to pack it well. Gavaskar is also becoming predictable, but still tolerable. Best to not talk of the rest.

Harimohan said...

Yes Diwakar. I agree. I do really crave for some good, mature commentary that can mix cricket expertise and wit like the old chaps.