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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 Even via an outdated television set across a reasonable sized room four thousand miles away, I felt like I was sheltering in a shaky hut on the seafront whilst a force ten gale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 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. Providing his ransom demands continue to be met, he has promised never to write a whimsical book about village cricket. @hughandrews73