Monday, July 23, 2007

Rants of an Indian cricket fan

India hangs on to a string of hope at Lord’s. As I write this, India is 282/9 chasing a target of 380. Thankfully, bad light has stopped play as of now but there’s no telling when the weather conditions will improve.

However, I’m pretty happy with this Test match. India’s precarious condition aside, this Test match was a joy to watch because of one very simple reason: the England series is being covered on the newly launched Star Cricket.

For someone like me who enjoys his bit of classic cricketing action, you have no idea how B-I-G a relief it is to see a proper cricketing show; a show which is hosted by Harsha Bhogle (someone who knows more than a thing or two about cricket) and an expert panel which boasts of names such as Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri, David Lloyd, Nasser Hussain, Graham Gooch and (best of all) Ian Chappell. With a line-up like that, one doesn’t mind the odd snippet presented by Gautam Bhimani during lunch breaks.

This, as anyone who has torn his hair watching the cricket coverage on Set Max, is a great saviour. Let me enumerate the reasons why I disliked ‘Extraaaaa Innings’ (I hope I got the correct number of a’s in the Extra.)

  • One no longer has to put up with Miss Always-Controversially-Draped Mandira Bedi. Apart from the fact that she is an eyesore during a program which is primarily supposed to discuss cricket, the lady, I am sorry to say, hasn’t significantly improved on her chest (pun intended) of cricketing knowledge since the time of the 2003 Cricket World Cup.

  • There’s no more Charu Sharma around who concentrates more on constantly blabbering instead of asking cricket-related queries to people like Ian Chappell and Arjuna Ranatunga. Like my good friend Chatur pointed out the other day over a chat on the telephone, Charu Sharma would often cut short Chappell and others who were talking good cricketing sense. And oh, I almost forgot, there’ll be no more of his stupid grin when he stares/ogles at whatever cleavage Miss Bedi has on offer for the world.

  • The painful experience of having to listen to Ma Prem Ritambhara and others of her ilk is now, hopefully, a thing of the past. There’ll be less of fat women in clothes with outrageous colour combinations holding a conversation on how the ‘omens seem to be against the Indian cricket team but if a 100 million Indians pray for our boys, the good vibes might influence the performance of 11 individuals in the Caribbean’.

  • The cricket lover will be spared the expert comments of people like Atul Wassan, Ranjit Fernando and Ian Bishop. Oh trust me there are a lot more where these came from. It’s just that I’ve somehow miraculously (and thankfully) erased my traumatic memories of the mostly disastrous commentary team on Set Max. Personally, there used to be moments when I would mute the television while watching cricket when the aforementioned esteemed gentlemen aired their comments about what was wrong with the cricketing world.

  • A BIG relief is the manner in which commercials are shown between the overs. Set Max was not only notorious, but they were shameful in the manner in which they showed these commercials. Hardly would the last ball of an over have been played by the batsman than when the commercial would start playing. There were even some ridiculous and extremely frustrating moments when the commentator hadn’t even mentioned the score of the batting team at the end of the over and the picture would fade away into a commercial break.

All I can do now is look heavenwards and pray for two things. One, please let Star Cricket get the rights to the major cricketing action for the next few years at least. And two, of course, please either let there be more ‘bad light’ or rain at Lord’s so that India may be able to save the Test match.

P.S. I was originally also intending to speak about certain moments during the current coverage on Star Cricket. These were what I would call moments of ‘glorious cricket coverage’, for instance, the occasion when the camera caught Mr. and Mrs. Richie Benaud watching the first day of the Test Match. More of such beautiful moments in my next post.

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