April 9, 2012

Commentary

Mad axemen on the run from the police

Andrew Hughes
Muttiah Muralitharan picked up three wickets, Royal Challengers Bangalore v Delhi Daredevils, IPL 2012, Bangalore, April 7, 2012
Rebellious Murali shockingly refuses to run around like a headless chicken after taking a wicket  © Associated Press
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Week one of IPL 5 has been a touch frenetic. Like a kennel full of eager puppies released into an open field, the players have been tearing about all over the place. Fielders have been flinging whatever is to hand at the stumps: balls, pebbles, beetles, water bottles, plastic chairs, and more often than not the ball has gone whizzing past the sticky things, initiating another exciting game of chase and fetch.

And it’s not just the fielders who’ve been hyped up like toddlers after a long car journey. With the eyes of millions on them, some of the batsmen have overdosed on adrenalin, going about their business with the reckless abandon of mad axemen on the run from the police, swinging away as though each chance to smash a cricket ball might be their last.

Take Suresh Raina. One of the IPL’s crack leather dispatchers, he’s always done his thing with a certain style. But when Deccan’s Dan Christian came on to bowl, Suresh went berserk. Ball one he heaved over extra cover with all the panache of a sumo wrestler flinging a sack of potatoes into a van. Ball two he swung at so hard that he nearly knocked himself out with his own bat. Ball three he hit straight up in the air with his eyes closed.

Had he let go of the blade at any stage, it could easily have flown over the boundary and crashed into the commentary booth. Or is that just wishful thinking on my part? I think we can take a good guess at how that piece of commentary would have gone:

“Oh he’s let go of the bat, Suresh Raina!” “That bat has gone a long way, I can tell you!” “When he flings them they stay flung!” “That is a DLF bat-maximum if ever I – “

Yes, while the best players in the world are busy risking hernias and badly sprained egos as they strain to the utmost to entertain us, the IPL commentators are in cruise control, feet up on the desk, brains in neutral, taking it in turns to read us extracts from the Dummies Guide to Stating the Bleeding Obvious.

Take this exchange, which occurred after Manpreet Gony mistimed a shot against Chennai.

“That’s gone a long way up in the air,” revealed Pommie Mbangwa as television footage showed the ball going a long way up in the air.

Fortunately, another former Test cricketer, Craig McMillan, was on hand to give us the technical perspective. What went wrong with that shot, Craig?

“There was too much loft on it.”

I am perhaps being a little unfair in singling out Craig and Pommie, so in the interests of balance, I should point out that all the other commentators are just as bad. And McMillan does have that fascinating accent to keep the viewer interested, although he could prove confusing to IPL newcomers who will struggle in vain to find the fan site of the Dicken Chergers.

From what I can tell, Dicken aren’t very good this year, but they fling themselves about in the field like demented tree frogs, which is jolly entertaining. It’s too early to judge the other teams yet but Rajasthan seem taller than they used to be, Kings XI are reprising their role as tragic failures, and Kolkata are treating my financial investment in their success with complete indifference. So now I know how Shahrukh Khan feels.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Keywords: Commentary

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by lokesh on (April 14, 2012, 5:20 GMT)

On a more serious note, I don't understand why people are behind commentators all the time. Criticize them if they make too many mistakes or try to make predictions or bring on their own agenda of what a team composition should be, etc; not for their cliches. How do you describe something obvious anyways. We can't have poetry unless Sir Shakespeare is on board and of course audience who appreciates his poetry.

Posted by Sushant on (April 13, 2012, 14:10 GMT)

Sure your humour is funny (somewhat), but you might be overdoing the satire just a tad bit.

I'm not an ardent fan of IPL mind you. I watch it if and when I have nothing better to do. But lets not be too hasty in discounting the merits of a format that has helped popularize the game immensely.

I'm guessing you are more of a test fan, so I can understand your cynicism towards T20 and IPL but what is the purpose of sports if not to bring people closer, provide entertainment and promote good health and fitness. I can see T20/IPL doing all three in three hours. Think about it.

And I like Danny Morrison's commentary. It's more suited to this format of the game. Just saying.

Posted by YOGI MEHTA on (April 13, 2012, 10:17 GMT)

Andrew Hughes writes with gay abandon, much like the batsmen of the IPL who play with gay abandon! Makes a refreshing read and sometimes hilarious too. IPL has changed the way the rest of the world ( barring the cynics ) watch their cricket. much like Indian soap operas there is a bit of everything including mad emotion, burning egoes,bad timing, droll comedy,seething anger and finally a happy ending! All this in quick timing and in the world of instant gratification, this fits perfectly. Whilst i love my five day cricket, and the 50 over game, i look forward to the madness that this 20 over format provides, throw in all the living legends who compete with the local talent,and you have four hours of cricket frenzy ! great fodder for the cricket lover. Long Live IPL!

Posted by Ravi on (April 12, 2012, 9:19 GMT)

You have to wonder about Andrew Hughes' abilities as a writer when he consistently dishes out tripe like this. You don't like the IPL, we get it. You don't like the commentary, we get that too. You try to write humour, when it is obvious you don't know how - that we don't get!

Posted by Akshay on (April 10, 2012, 5:50 GMT)

I haven't watched any IPL this season,but this was a nice excerpt of the IPL action till now.Hope you continue your IPL articles in future

Posted by sachin my god on (April 10, 2012, 5:31 GMT)

amazing.

Posted by prem on (April 10, 2012, 1:47 GMT)

classic... couldn't stop laughing... best one in the series....

Posted by Vis8 on (April 9, 2012, 19:52 GMT)

Swish, slap, bang.... the Indians have totally distorted good cricket into a Las-Vegas style glitter frenzy, with the IPL. Sad to see all the reputed test cricketers playing in the IPL for the money.

Posted by Suneel on (April 9, 2012, 19:18 GMT)

Dummies Guide to Stating the Bleeding Obvious.... Now that's good.. !!!

Posted by AmeerAG on (April 9, 2012, 18:13 GMT)

i think you are quite right sir.the best thing in cricket is being a gentleman not dancing like monkeys but most of modern cricketers are forgetting that. shoudn't be like this hope soon every team will hire a specialist who will teach them how to react in ground ad outside as well.......

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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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