IPL April 25, 2009

The view from Old Blighty - 2

Cricinfo
The nadir was reached on Thursday
26

From Andrew Hughes, United Kingdom

Yesterday was a traumatic day for me, the first on which I have been unable to watch any IPL action. It happens to all of us, of course. However much we commit to a sporting event, sooner or later, we are always unfaithful, even if it’s only to nip into the kitchen to make a cup of tea (which is how I missed the very first ball of the opening game). But having tried life without Shilpa, Shane and Sunny, I didn’t like it.

Because, after a little coy toe-dipping and nervous anticipation, the IPL has finally plunged, carefree as a love-struck hippo, into the televisual waters of fate. (This is a metaphor. More accurately, it is a bad metaphor, of which more later). Week one has brought us balls bouncing from skulls, foul-mouthed Bollywood goddesses, fugitive dogs and lots of dancing. On occasions, a cricket match has broken out.

And in order to do justice to this spectacle, the commentators have clearly been told to up their game. There has been a marked increase in punnery; a run on similies and a veritable boom in witty badinage. Jeremy Coney led the way. A Hayden lob to mid-on was described as, “a chip shot...but not a blue chip shot.” In the background, Mark Nicholas and Harsha Bogle spontaneously combusted with mirth.

And though obliged to grasp the corporate nettle with both greasy palms, they have at least tried to minimise the pain with some brain-numbing grammatical gymnastics. Thus we have had DLF as a unit of measurement (“That didn’t register on the DLF scale,”) an abstract noun expressing a quality (“That had DLF written all over it!”), a verb in the past tense (“That’s the first time that Kumble’s been DLFed!”) and as an interjected synonym for a six, (That’s a DLFer!”).

There are some cricket matters though, that continue to stump the imaginations of Gavaskar and Co. In particular, the booth-dwellers seem unable to get past their fascination with Andrew Flintoff’s hands. It appears that he doesn’t have normal hands, like you or I. He has buckets. His hands are like buckets. He has bucket hands. So often is the word bucket used in conjunction with pictures of Freddie that I am unable to think of the one without the other. Last night I dreamt of a film called ‘Freddie Buckethands’ in which the England allrounder, unable to reintegrate into society after his stint in the IPL, exists as a lonely outcast until he finds his true calling as a sandcastle builder at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua.

Of course, dear reader, Freddie doesn’t really have big red plastic containers attached to his wrists. It’s a metaphor, see. Tricky blighters though, metaphors. They tire easily. And rather like Praveen Kumar, they aren’t at their best when bashed repeatedly over the head. I understand that social workers concerned for the health and well-being of this particular figure of speech are flying out to South Africa this weekend to interview Robin Jackman.

But with the endless whirl of thrills and spills comes a certain amount of disorientation. I am struggling particularly to come to terms with the dumbing-down of Jeremy Coney. Once a be-suited, occasionally sardonic but always compelling studio guest on Sky, his transfer to the IPL seems to have necessitated the fitting of a brain implant, via which he can be transformed into a performing clown at the flip of a switch.

The nadir was reached on Thursday. There was Coney, pitchside. Three Chennai cheerleaders stood in front of him. You couldn’t look. Like David Lloyd being asked to review Les Folies Bergere, you knew there was no way this could end well. A little light banter to start with. “How long have you been dancing?” he asked the stationary blondes, who to their credit resisted the temptation to say, “We’re not dancing, we’re talking to you.” With that, the conversational well dried up. There was only one place for the interview to go. Don’t dance, Jeremy, we screamed. To no avail. The camera lingered on the twitching, gurning Coney for just long enough to frame his humiliation. Somewhere across the Tasman Sea, a nation covered its eyes.

But he wasn’t done yet. He popped up again in a control room somewhere high in the stands, to tell us about a camera. This was no ordinary camera. Oh well, alright, it was, but still, it took two men to operate it. Jeremy, adrenalin still pumping, squeezed between the two understandably alarmed men. “Can you make it go blurry?” he asked, jumping up and down like a five year old full of fizzy pop. “Yes we can,” replied the Obama of camera operatives. The screen blurred, mercifully.

This disorientation extended beyond the electronic frontiers of the IPL. At one point last weekend, I found myself watching county cricket. I forget the teams involved. Come to think of it, I can’t recall which competition it was or where the game was taking place. I do remember a sleepy, droning Nasser Hussain; the low hum of distant traffic echoing across rows of empty seats and the sound of someone snoring.

Next thing I knew, it was Monday afternoon and I was waking up on my sofa. I only had myself to blame. Last year, my doctor had advised me against watching county cricket whilst operating a laptop and I had foolishly ignored his advice. So remember, kids, if someone sidles up to you in the playground and offers you free tickets to Northamptonshire versus Gloucestershire in the Sleepy-Time No-One-Gives-A-Toss Charity Knock Out Shield, just say no.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Roy on May 6, 2009, 8:46 GMT

    Another citi moment for Jeremy was when he asked the Obama of camera to glide the machine along the ground for an aerial view, but the man simply refused to do it. Jeremy kept on asking him to show off the technology, but the camera stayed put!

  • sampath on May 5, 2009, 15:40 GMT

    Andrew keep writing. If only your countrymen had half as much cricketing skills as all of your article writing abilities you would be on top of the cricketing world. People who interpret your writing as anti-IPL are mixing you up with some of your past cricketers turned mediamen! You are doing great.

  • Sid on May 5, 2009, 6:50 GMT

    Hahaha, chestnutgray. Make me think of phrases involving nails being hit on heads. Ravi Shastri makes me want to tear out my own innards. That air of awesome confidence in his pathetic oratory, the shameless bumbling sycophantic delivery announcing the sponsors, ohh the horror. The worst part is that he really thinks he's slick. And before you lame patriots try and crucify me, yea I'm Indian, so best of luck with telling my I'm jealous of "former colonies".

  • S Ashwin on May 4, 2009, 0:59 GMT

    Awesome Stuff Andrew! The first few days, I din;t follow much of the IPL, but now can't keep my eyes of it.

    Also, I can't believe people are on Ravi Sashtri's and SMG's case while we have, who in my opinion is the WORST commentator ever... Lakshman Sivaramakrishnan. Today he was out mingling with the crowd and playing the fool instead! Don't production houses monitor blogs/cric info to get feedback on what people are thinking? Sivaramakrishnan's been at it for years!! I must have high BP solely because of Sivaramakrishnan and another friend of his, viewers of broadcasts in India will recognize: Maninder Singh

  • Rohit on May 1, 2009, 10:33 GMT

    hahahahaha...hilarious.. loved the county bit in the end..

  • marees on April 30, 2009, 20:23 GMT

    the point about the bucket hands, is that Flintoff is one of the rare players in IPL not to miss any skiers or low catches or any catch in fact. By repeating the accolade commentators stress on his consistent dependability contrasted against the bumbling inconsistent efforts of most players (except a few like AB De Villiers and Hayden)

  • sumit on April 28, 2009, 7:27 GMT

    I can't believe how many people here are telling Andrew to shove it because he doesn't like the commentary!!

    The fact that he is enjoying the IPL is evident - he is one of the few english writers I have read so far who are not embarrassed about lapping up the entertainment (and dissing the county game, while he's at it).

    So, to attack him him just because he doesn't like the IPL commentary is not on! Especially since the commentary is universally acknowledged as a bucket of puke.

    Shouldn't you be cribbing about things you don't like within things things you like? I think Andrew by virtue of not behaving like a cricketing snob has a ticket to ride..

  • chestnutgray on April 28, 2009, 5:57 GMT

    The thing with Ravi Shastri is that at any given point of time in any match, you know exactly what he's going to say: "just what the doctor ordered" "tracer bullet" "tall man" etc.

  • mani on April 28, 2009, 0:29 GMT

    Don't you look @ your remote controls ? There are buttons labelled "- VOL +" and "- CH +" and "MUTE". When commentary gets horrible (which it does, no doubt), either turn down the volume, or press mute. If still bad, change channel.. ; ipl commentary is BAD, but the t20 deal is good for cricket and fans, (once in a while - becuase 80% of time it is gambling and ends up as no context, only 20% time we have a tight match, just like the one with super over).

  • Andrew Hughes on April 26, 2009, 9:35 GMT

    Thanks everyone for the comments. I must say I am surprised that anyone can interpret what I wrote as anti-IPL. And as for anti-Indian, well that is just absurd. Is it not possible these days to be a cricket lover, without having being labelled as pro-this or anti-that? I am enjoying the IPL. I am even enjoying the commentary, in a strangely warped way.

  • Roy on May 6, 2009, 8:46 GMT

    Another citi moment for Jeremy was when he asked the Obama of camera to glide the machine along the ground for an aerial view, but the man simply refused to do it. Jeremy kept on asking him to show off the technology, but the camera stayed put!

  • sampath on May 5, 2009, 15:40 GMT

    Andrew keep writing. If only your countrymen had half as much cricketing skills as all of your article writing abilities you would be on top of the cricketing world. People who interpret your writing as anti-IPL are mixing you up with some of your past cricketers turned mediamen! You are doing great.

  • Sid on May 5, 2009, 6:50 GMT

    Hahaha, chestnutgray. Make me think of phrases involving nails being hit on heads. Ravi Shastri makes me want to tear out my own innards. That air of awesome confidence in his pathetic oratory, the shameless bumbling sycophantic delivery announcing the sponsors, ohh the horror. The worst part is that he really thinks he's slick. And before you lame patriots try and crucify me, yea I'm Indian, so best of luck with telling my I'm jealous of "former colonies".

  • S Ashwin on May 4, 2009, 0:59 GMT

    Awesome Stuff Andrew! The first few days, I din;t follow much of the IPL, but now can't keep my eyes of it.

    Also, I can't believe people are on Ravi Sashtri's and SMG's case while we have, who in my opinion is the WORST commentator ever... Lakshman Sivaramakrishnan. Today he was out mingling with the crowd and playing the fool instead! Don't production houses monitor blogs/cric info to get feedback on what people are thinking? Sivaramakrishnan's been at it for years!! I must have high BP solely because of Sivaramakrishnan and another friend of his, viewers of broadcasts in India will recognize: Maninder Singh

  • Rohit on May 1, 2009, 10:33 GMT

    hahahahaha...hilarious.. loved the county bit in the end..

  • marees on April 30, 2009, 20:23 GMT

    the point about the bucket hands, is that Flintoff is one of the rare players in IPL not to miss any skiers or low catches or any catch in fact. By repeating the accolade commentators stress on his consistent dependability contrasted against the bumbling inconsistent efforts of most players (except a few like AB De Villiers and Hayden)

  • sumit on April 28, 2009, 7:27 GMT

    I can't believe how many people here are telling Andrew to shove it because he doesn't like the commentary!!

    The fact that he is enjoying the IPL is evident - he is one of the few english writers I have read so far who are not embarrassed about lapping up the entertainment (and dissing the county game, while he's at it).

    So, to attack him him just because he doesn't like the IPL commentary is not on! Especially since the commentary is universally acknowledged as a bucket of puke.

    Shouldn't you be cribbing about things you don't like within things things you like? I think Andrew by virtue of not behaving like a cricketing snob has a ticket to ride..

  • chestnutgray on April 28, 2009, 5:57 GMT

    The thing with Ravi Shastri is that at any given point of time in any match, you know exactly what he's going to say: "just what the doctor ordered" "tracer bullet" "tall man" etc.

  • mani on April 28, 2009, 0:29 GMT

    Don't you look @ your remote controls ? There are buttons labelled "- VOL +" and "- CH +" and "MUTE". When commentary gets horrible (which it does, no doubt), either turn down the volume, or press mute. If still bad, change channel.. ; ipl commentary is BAD, but the t20 deal is good for cricket and fans, (once in a while - becuase 80% of time it is gambling and ends up as no context, only 20% time we have a tight match, just like the one with super over).

  • Andrew Hughes on April 26, 2009, 9:35 GMT

    Thanks everyone for the comments. I must say I am surprised that anyone can interpret what I wrote as anti-IPL. And as for anti-Indian, well that is just absurd. Is it not possible these days to be a cricket lover, without having being labelled as pro-this or anti-that? I am enjoying the IPL. I am even enjoying the commentary, in a strangely warped way.

  • vikas on April 26, 2009, 4:19 GMT

    This must be the blog/article number 1000 on cricinfo telling us why IPL is not good. Please get over it, IPL is here to stay. If you dont like it don't watch it. Period.

  • Fez on April 26, 2009, 4:11 GMT

    the best commentators for me...........SM,TG and IC

  • Chandra on April 26, 2009, 3:53 GMT

    It is only a matter of time before Cricinfo loses decade old customers. The kind of ant-Indian, anti-BCCI stuff is utter nonsense. Also, why do they have an article about Tyrone Henderson? Ridiculous!!!

  • Ragz on April 26, 2009, 2:25 GMT

    well, what about Mr. Ravi Shastri. I think he is the worst commentator around. Most of the times I mute the sound when he is on. I think Ravi shastri doesn't know that he's commentating on TV & not on radio.

  • Raj Gupta on April 25, 2009, 23:18 GMT

    I as an Indian am ashamed of BCCI's attempts of late. It seems we Indians are full of arrogance and have no class. Even Pakistan or West Indies can organize better events than us Indians.

  • vish on April 25, 2009, 21:39 GMT

    i guess its no wonder there are no west indian commentators.....they actually commentate...

  • JOHN VAN DER WESTHUIZEN on April 25, 2009, 20:53 GMT

    Fantstic piece - I've watched every single game, ball by ball. I will continue to do so. But I start worrying when the process of putting my son to bed goes smoothly, and I quietly think of it as a Citi Moment of Succes in my life ...

  • Peter Della Penna on April 25, 2009, 20:47 GMT

    Why should I watch the IPL when I can be entertained 10 times more by reading pieces like this?

  • Sushrut Biswal on April 25, 2009, 20:18 GMT

    The commentary may not be the best but everyone has been trying very hard. As far as the english commentators, they are by far the most biased, with the exception of David Lloyd. So we are better off hearing these stupid adjectives than Nasser Hussain telling us the minute details of the plans hatched by the english bowlers or Willis and Botham trying to explain why England is the best side in the world.

  • Andrew Hughes on April 25, 2009, 19:06 GMT

    Interesting comments. To kkj I would say that a commentator should be a cricket-lover first and a patriot nowhere. To the extent to which the men you have described put England first, then they have failed. But the true objective commentator is rare these days. I enjoy Gavaskar and Lloyd on occasions. On other occasions, when patriotism has them in its grasp, they are not worth listening to. Mark Nicholas, for all his chatshow host tendencies, is a decent, reasonably unbiased commentator, as is Harsha Bogle.

  • Ravi Ananthan on April 25, 2009, 18:49 GMT

    Post dot-ball in one of 'em matches: "Dot balls are significant in an T20 match; dot balls are quite amazing; dot balls could star in a Bollywood movie (sic)."

  • kkj1 on April 25, 2009, 17:32 GMT

    No doubt, IPL's commentary is cringe worthy, but to the man from old blighty i must say the old blighty's commentary team consisting of Messers M Atherton, Hussain, lloyd and others are the single most partial group of commentators i have ever heard. They don't know anything about any other teams except ofcourse england and their ashes oponents aussies.I would rather listen to highly excited , but knowledgable commnetators like shastri, gavaskar etc than the old blighty lot, who seem to think that the world cricket seems to begin and end wwith the english game, when the reality is it is an insignificant speck in the scheme of things now.

  • Jonty on April 25, 2009, 15:15 GMT

    And what's this fascination with the tracer bullet?! Every ball travels to the boundary like a tracer bullet acc to Sunny and Ravi...

  • surya on April 25, 2009, 9:23 GMT

    LOL...cheers to you mate.Cricinfo of late has been a real treat with all the sarcasm and humour around.Frankly,The commentary this year has been by far the worst I have seen for some time.wonder What happened to people who didnt belong to this maniac pack.Guess money can spoil anyone.The worst part is using these nonsensical adjectives over and over and exclaiming "OH!" when the ball is hit staight to the fielder..Wont these guys take pity on us?

  • Anthony on April 25, 2009, 8:16 GMT

    Honestly, Cricinfo you keep the joy of cricket alive in all us exiled expats. I'm in sport-less Hong Kong and still log on for exactly this kind of entertainment. Thank you!

  • Arshad Khan on April 25, 2009, 8:15 GMT

    True, too much 'branding' of commentary. I don't know much about Jeremy Coney but for me to hear Mark Nicholas utter "citi moment of success" and "DLF maximum" was saddening indeed. Come on Mark, this is not the place for you to be at - take a leaf out of the books of Nasir Hussain, Bumble or Mike Atherton. You are too good and credible a commentator to be bought over by greedy corporates!!

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  • Arshad Khan on April 25, 2009, 8:15 GMT

    True, too much 'branding' of commentary. I don't know much about Jeremy Coney but for me to hear Mark Nicholas utter "citi moment of success" and "DLF maximum" was saddening indeed. Come on Mark, this is not the place for you to be at - take a leaf out of the books of Nasir Hussain, Bumble or Mike Atherton. You are too good and credible a commentator to be bought over by greedy corporates!!

  • Anthony on April 25, 2009, 8:16 GMT

    Honestly, Cricinfo you keep the joy of cricket alive in all us exiled expats. I'm in sport-less Hong Kong and still log on for exactly this kind of entertainment. Thank you!

  • surya on April 25, 2009, 9:23 GMT

    LOL...cheers to you mate.Cricinfo of late has been a real treat with all the sarcasm and humour around.Frankly,The commentary this year has been by far the worst I have seen for some time.wonder What happened to people who didnt belong to this maniac pack.Guess money can spoil anyone.The worst part is using these nonsensical adjectives over and over and exclaiming "OH!" when the ball is hit staight to the fielder..Wont these guys take pity on us?

  • Jonty on April 25, 2009, 15:15 GMT

    And what's this fascination with the tracer bullet?! Every ball travels to the boundary like a tracer bullet acc to Sunny and Ravi...

  • kkj1 on April 25, 2009, 17:32 GMT

    No doubt, IPL's commentary is cringe worthy, but to the man from old blighty i must say the old blighty's commentary team consisting of Messers M Atherton, Hussain, lloyd and others are the single most partial group of commentators i have ever heard. They don't know anything about any other teams except ofcourse england and their ashes oponents aussies.I would rather listen to highly excited , but knowledgable commnetators like shastri, gavaskar etc than the old blighty lot, who seem to think that the world cricket seems to begin and end wwith the english game, when the reality is it is an insignificant speck in the scheme of things now.

  • Ravi Ananthan on April 25, 2009, 18:49 GMT

    Post dot-ball in one of 'em matches: "Dot balls are significant in an T20 match; dot balls are quite amazing; dot balls could star in a Bollywood movie (sic)."

  • Andrew Hughes on April 25, 2009, 19:06 GMT

    Interesting comments. To kkj I would say that a commentator should be a cricket-lover first and a patriot nowhere. To the extent to which the men you have described put England first, then they have failed. But the true objective commentator is rare these days. I enjoy Gavaskar and Lloyd on occasions. On other occasions, when patriotism has them in its grasp, they are not worth listening to. Mark Nicholas, for all his chatshow host tendencies, is a decent, reasonably unbiased commentator, as is Harsha Bogle.

  • Sushrut Biswal on April 25, 2009, 20:18 GMT

    The commentary may not be the best but everyone has been trying very hard. As far as the english commentators, they are by far the most biased, with the exception of David Lloyd. So we are better off hearing these stupid adjectives than Nasser Hussain telling us the minute details of the plans hatched by the english bowlers or Willis and Botham trying to explain why England is the best side in the world.

  • Peter Della Penna on April 25, 2009, 20:47 GMT

    Why should I watch the IPL when I can be entertained 10 times more by reading pieces like this?

  • JOHN VAN DER WESTHUIZEN on April 25, 2009, 20:53 GMT

    Fantstic piece - I've watched every single game, ball by ball. I will continue to do so. But I start worrying when the process of putting my son to bed goes smoothly, and I quietly think of it as a Citi Moment of Succes in my life ...