March 31, 2010

IPL

Lunar tunes

Andrew Hughes


The moon: thought it could get past the sharp men in the comm box, but failed © Getty Images
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Sunday’s game in Navi Mumbai was loud. No, it was more than loud, it was cacophonous. It was noisier than a Boeing 747 full of angry dinosaurs taking off next to a Motorhead concert. Even via an outdated television set across a reasonable sized room four thousand miles away, I felt like I was sheltering in a shaky hut on the seafront whilst a force ten gale raged all around. The incessant roaring made my teeth ache and my head throb. Heaven knows what it did to the players. Adam Gilchrist had to use semaphore to talk to first slip.

Anyway, you get the idea. It was loud. So loud in fact that "Muttering" Mike Haysman was barely audible. For the entirety of his commentary stint, I had absolutely no idea what he was saying. I was dimly aware that he was talking, but the words were snatched up in the maelstrom of sound and whirled away into the ether. Fortunately, it made little difference, since I could already see what was happening via the pictures on my television screen. Perhaps there’s a lesson to be learned there.

Mumbai, whose shirts seem to have acquired extra silver stripes that make them look like disco tigers, are a clever team. They are clearly the best in the tournament, but are not provoking the IPL gods by peaking too early. For most of this game, they were losing. Enter Bhajji. His boundary-heavy innings was accrued with a stupefying nonchalance that made no sense at all. In my confusion I looked to the experts in the booth. Was it the bowling? Was it the pitch? Was Harbhajan using an enchanted bat? But as usual, yearning for technical insight from the commentary box is as futile as hoping that your pet hamster might one day sing an aria from Turandot.

The commentators had far more important things to talk about. The moon, for a start. Eagle-eyed professionals that they are, the big white shiny disc in the sky had not escaped their notice. Sunil Gavaskar spotted it first and recited for us Neil Armstrong’s "one small step for man" speech. Fair enough, it was technically moon-related, although to be honest, I had heard it before, from Neil Armstrong for a start. Then Robin Jackman wanted in. “Great knowledge Sunny,” he cooed, admiringly. Good grief, muttered a world-wide audience.

And vying with the moon for attention was the MRF blimp, an ominous beige contraption that looked as though it was the weekend transport of a medium-ranking Bond villain. Presumably there had been a memo passed among the microphone jockeys asking them to reference the bag of hot air in the sky more frequently and so it was MRF-blimp-this and MRF-blimp-that for most of the evening. My favourite blimp-related anecdote came from Gavaskar who informed us that MRF had always been at the forefront of technology and were the first to bring the blimp to India.

What a special day that must have been in the story of the Indian nation. Never mind Independence Day, the first Indian in space or the 1983 World Cup Triumph, I’m sure everyone in India remembers exactly where they were when the first ever blimp droned into view over Mumbai. Perhaps some time in the future, there will be a National Blimp Day when all Indians commemorate the moment when the nation lost its blimp virginity? Ironically, despite all this blimpery, I still haven’t the faintest idea who MRF are or what they have to do with a big balloon. I’m comfortable with that.

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Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by Samantha on (April 22, 2010, 12:58 GMT)

More than watching the match, I felt like i was watching advertisements for three hours :) You were right about the mrf sales pitch. Qudoos Andrew .

Posted by sandeep on (April 4, 2010, 8:38 GMT)

Spot on. IPL commentators act like IPL salesman. Not one bit of technical insight, all hyperbole. Getting sick of it. I only heard Ian Bishop comment on the shoddy fielding standards in the IPL, which I'm sure will earn him a rap from the IPL bosses. Sick!!

Posted by The ghost who walks on (April 4, 2010, 3:18 GMT)

Since many of you dont know what MRF is i would like to shed some light on it. MRF stands for Madras rubber factory.. its a leading tyre manufacturing in india based in madras(old name for chennai). As many pointed out they were the sponsors for scahin lara n steve waugh for number of years..

Posted by RB on (April 4, 2010, 1:48 GMT)

In all American sports, the broadcast crew does advertising (Sometimes, just for shows on the same channel). However, there is always a fine line between the game and the adverts, and the broadcasters make it a point to do the ads as a "break" and return to action. Also, usually one man in a two or three man crew will do ads, and the "expert" (For example, Tim McCarver in baseball world series, or Chris Cullinsworth in NFL) will usually not do ads.. IPL crosses the fine line by making ads part of the game, and the commentators are not reading scripts, but selling products. This will always be offensive to purists, and the system should eventually change. And also, a blimp is not a balloon--Usually has pilots and makes a point of covering aerial video. Don't know about this emaref blimp though.

Posted by Jasmeet John on (April 3, 2010, 18:46 GMT)

da 4th n da last paragraph were incredibly hilarious. but i hav a question, can somebody plz describe wats dis mrf blimp all abt?

Posted by ankit on (April 3, 2010, 4:07 GMT)

Andrew ....How can u miss MRF wen u r self confessed sachin tendulkar's Big fan..........dont write just for the sake of writing........and please change ur writing ways......same thing everytime makes it boring

Posted by sudhir on (April 3, 2010, 2:06 GMT)

this is the most hilarious article that i have ever read.couldnt stop laughing...thank u very much andrew abd keep up the good work

Posted by badzaah on (April 2, 2010, 15:59 GMT)

Haha good one...i work for a radio station and I hear such sponsored crap the entire day...just kills the joy of listening, however the monies are something we can't ignore as in a way my paycheck comes from such integrations ....but surely IPl can afford to let go off a few crores;)

Posted by D.V.C. on (April 2, 2010, 11:53 GMT)

More poetic than usual Andrew, nice going.

MRF stands for Mumbai Rubber Factory.I believe they have diversified from making just rubber. They also sponsor the Indian fast bowling academy (I learnt that from the IPL).

What bugs me about the shots of the Moon is that they are usually when it is full. The best time to look at the Moon is when the terminator (the line between dark and light) is clearly visible – that way you can make out the heights of the mountains and craters.

Given that they show the Moon so much, you might be interested in knowing the names of some of its features, try here: http://timocharis.com/astro/moonmap/moonmap.png

Posted by Ashok on (April 2, 2010, 11:14 GMT)

Brilliant! the cricket here is turning into a farce.... Everyone is getting paid well and so sing the praises of... the blimp, the moon, the tip of the day and the faces of the IPL big guns.... forget there is cricket. Well put Mr. Hughes. Love the description of this circus.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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