July 10, 2010

Make the next Murali a Bangladeshi

Cricket in 3D

Have you seen the cricket in 3D? Oh, you must try it. 3D is marvellous, it is the future, you get, like, these dark glasses and when you put them on you can watch in 3D. Yes, I know, three dimensions! It’s the way of the future, 3D. Did you know that Sky are pioneering 3D? Didn’t I tell you? Yes, 3D. Cricket matches in 3D. Incredible, isn’t it. Sky are doing it. Yes, that’s right, 3D coverage of cricket. Only on Sky. It’s really wonderful, this 3D. 3D, 3D, 3D, 3D, 3D.

I apologise if my opening paragraph was a tad annoying. I hope, though, that it has conveyed to you something of the experience of watching Thursday’s one day international. Like particularly obtuse opponents in a rather frustrating game of Battleships, there was only one number-and-letter combination that the Sky employees were interested in. Again and again they rammed home the news of broadcastingkind’s latest technological advance until it displaced almost every other thought in the viewer’s head.

Ian Botham described it as though the players were miniature cricketers in a goldfish bowl and you were in there with them. That to me sounds like the disturbed nightmare of a feverish patient, not an arrangement that I might care to pay £36 per month for. It may well put the players in your living room, but frankly I do not particularly want James Anderson scowling at me from the chaise longue or Paul Collingwood walking across my carpet in his muddy boots.

And the key thing to note here is that we mere subscribers were not granted this peek into the world of tomorrow today. The 3D revolution was confined entirely to selected public houses, to which the Sky massive were directed. Thus, many years after the banning of alcohol advertising in sport, the nation’s main cricket broadcaster was directing its viewers to the nearest watering hole. For all I know, Nick Knight and Nasser Hussain were standing outside Trent Bridge, encouraging would-be spectators to try the Red Lion instead.

Of course, Bangladesh were playing and so this meant that, when they were not entreating us to enter the extra dimension, the commentators were delicately pacing that perilous border between insulting and patronising. They managed to restrain themselves fairly well until after darkness had fallen, but by then it was too much for David Lloyd to bear and the outlawed phrase that had no doubt been the subject of many an internal email, finally limped apologetically out into the open, dressed up in those distinctive Lancashire tones:

“It’s only Bangladesh,” said Accrington’s favourite son.

It’s. Only. Bangladesh.

Sometimes I wonder whether the words “it’s” and “only” should become permanent prefixes or somehow incorporated onto the badge of the Bangladesh Cricket Board. But though they got another thumping at Trent Bridge, to go with the 23 previous such outcomes this year, they have the batsmen; they have the fourth and fifth seamers and the back-up spinners. They are just one world-class bowler away from being contenders. We need a new Murali, so God, if you are listening, if there’s any justice, let him be a Bangladeshi.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England