The Heavy Ball

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One foot in the stream

Our intrepid reporter braves a dodgy feed, Brylcreem ads and people hawking illegal links, to watch the IPL online

Jarrod Kimber

Comments: 14 | Text size: A | A
Screengrab: YouTube's IPL channel
Shilpa in Aviators: the alleged "fun feed" © YouTube
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Series/Tournaments: Indian Premier League

After a morning of watching cricket players singing on YouTube (Abdul Razzaq is my favourite) I stumbled across the live IPL stream. I was greeted with Pommie Mbangwa and Shane Warne speaking with an awkward delay. When Pommie spoke, Warne's lips moved and vice versa. Was a nice effect.

Whispers had come back to me that the picture quality was poor on the IPL's YouTube experiment, but the picture worked for me. You could see Dirk Nannes' magnificent facial fuzz and Graeme Smith's cold, dead eyes. Warne's teeth were as luminescent as always and Harsha Bhogle's hair was lustrous.

Clearly when they came up with this online stream no one thought of the serious problems it could lead to. The cheerleaders are harder to ogle. If the light is not on these unnecessary dancing girls properly, it leads to pixellation and the girls can look like they're characters from Samantha Fox Strip Poker (made in 1986).

I started off by enjoying the experience, but then I realised that even though the site looked friendly enough, there was a seedy secret. After the first over I looked around the page to see what else they had. Under the video I found a live Twitter chat stream coming through that said 14 for 1 was the score, but I had seen no wicket. Three minutes later I saw Dirty Dirk Nannes get one, which took the score to… 14 for 1. We were on a delay.

I might not have worked this out without the help of this live Twitter feed directly below the footage. From then on in I watched the Twitter feed, and if someone said "four" or "wicket", I set my mental egg timer and then scrolled up in time to watch it.

Being that I was in sunny London, I got a KP Brylcreem ad that had been made for the internet, but was put on way too loud and made my ears cry. Like Laxman Sivaramakrishnan and Michael Kasprowicz did. This seemed to be their only ad, and it was shown so much that I wanted to find the man who invented Brylcreem, dig him up, and make him watch it. Imagine if KP was batting and all you had was KP ads. You'd overdose on KP. Not how I want to go.

My cat, Spartacus, seemed confused that the IPL was on YouTube, and he never stayed long in my office. He went back to the lounge and waited for me to turn on ITV. (He is a big Mandira Bedi fan, although he was hoping she would wear an IPL logo sari).

The Twitter feed quickly became more interesting than the game to me, as most of the tweets were about illegal places to watch the IPL online. Quite often these people were saying the YouTube link was down, even though it never broke for me. Then they flogged their dodgy link.

When Graeme Smith was out, I was watching the young Ladda bowling on my screen, and he had four balls left in his over. Smith eventually was out in front of my eyes in the next over. It did annoy me, but I also felt like a cricket soothsayer, one who could sense the dismissal was coming before he saw it.

I doubt many people in the world just sit on one website when they are on the internet, so it is impossible not to go to your Twitter, Facebook, Orkut, Myspace, Bebo and Friendster to know what is coming next. And that doesn't even include Cricinfo's genius ball-by-ball coverage (editor, is that what I was supposed to say?). The ways of being in front of YouTube are many and varied.

After getting bored with the game I started playing around and found out you can see alternate camera angles with the "fun feed". Big mistake. I can't believe anyone could watch more than two minutes of this. All I had was a close-up of Shane Warne watching the cricket for 30 seconds, the cheerleaders' empty stage, vox pops of the fans in the dark as a poor interviewer just got screamed at by a bunch of young fans, and extended cheerleading shots. I can only imagine this "fun feed" is for stalkers of cricketers who love watching women dance and children yell.

Then the feed went down.

Not knowing what to do, I decided to click on one of the many illegal feeds while I waited for YouTube to come back on line. I was amazed that the illegal feeds were actually up to speed with the game. When the YouTube feed came back up, it was one full over behind the illegal feed. Does Lalit know about this? I wouldn't want to be the one who tells him. So I stayed with the illegal feed. It isn't quite as pretty, and you can't even make out Shilpa Shetty (I assume it was her) from a distance. But you do get a variety of ads.

Then the illegal stream crashed. I went back to watch the YouTube stream, and saw the over I had just seen. That annoyed me, so I found another illegal feed, but the sound was rubbish on this one.

That was enough. I went back to my couch. Watching cricket wasn't supposed to be this hard.

RSS FeedJarrod Kimber, the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com, is an Australian writer based in London. His new book is now on sale

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Comments: 14 
Posted by Alexk400 on (March 17, 2010, 3:51 GMT)

I try to watch opening day of IPL 3 , but stream was buffering , then i switch to another site.

I expected better quality from you tube.

Posted by Hooves on (March 16, 2010, 21:08 GMT)

I too live in a non cricketing country, which i remedy this saturday with a return to Blighty. However, I have survived life reasonably well co habiting with Cricinfo. They even publsh my comments from time to time during play in the commentary - i consider myself a published feedbacker. But i have to say since discovering youtube were broadcasting these games, and i was as late onto this as i am the square cut, or any shot on the off side actually, i've been somewhat torn. It's just nice to see the ball or shot or the catch when you are as culturally starved of cricket as i am. I'm positively mal nourished. I once drove 4 hours from Krakow to Warsaw for a game of cricket. If i'd known it was hit and run i'd probably not have gone though. Thanks for the information re others website streams though. Useful tips.

Posted by hattima on (March 16, 2010, 21:05 GMT)

In UK you can watch IPL legally, without any delay, at the ITV site. The picture quality is also very good.

Posted by GokulChov on (March 16, 2010, 17:10 GMT)

It was a crappy decision to block youtube streaming in the US :-(

Posted by jarrodkimber on (March 16, 2010, 15:51 GMT)

@lefthand, I was asked to review the youtube stream for cricinfo. It is a new thing, so cricinfo wanted something on it.

@jm13, Even cricket in proper cricket nations is like the UK you have to use the internet to watch cricket, the Australia New Zealand series is not being shown here, but the Zimbabwe Windies series was.

@Venn, I'm not a cricinfo person, I am freelance. And I wasn't having a go at the IPL, but at the youtube stream because it was delayed and it dropped out. After I left my office I went down and watched the rest of the game on my couch.

@jambo22, Everyone should check out the fun feed, but only once.

Posted by maddy20 on (March 16, 2010, 14:58 GMT)

Nice funny article. I have enjoyed reading it.

Posted by Jambo22 on (March 16, 2010, 11:51 GMT)

@ Venn and about 1 billion other people: it is "the IPL", not just "IPL". Because the "L" stands for "League", you need to use the definite article, "the". You wouldn't say "I am a member of UN" or "I would like to visit UK" so why just say "IPL"? As for the IPL's feed, I completely agree, it is just another money-grab masquerading as a public service, and the "fun feed" is a ridiculous and mis-named waste of time.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2010, 10:04 GMT)

Yeah quite true.Man its a tiresome job if u want to watch cricekt illegaly.There are many sites which just crash down after few seconds and ask u to change the channel.They have like 30 channels and u need to check all for the correct one.Though i must say in such websites its good to ask in the chat which channel wrks.

Anyways asfor youtube ipl i must say the video and audio quality have gone down drastically.Till last year we had silverlight and though it was with delay the quality was awesome.But in youtue u dont get that.And on top of it youtube being a google product shoudnt have so much technical problems(though i have encountered few but many ppl have encountered more).So all in all the goodside is its legal and u dont have to change channels.Only u have to refresh ur page .

Posted by Venn on (March 16, 2010, 8:28 GMT)

What is up with cricinfo people? Are you on a mission to bash IPL at any cost? IPL is just 3 years old and it has made so many people happy most importantly the fans. You should be glad it atleast ventured to do a live telecast on youtube which no other sport has done. (with a lil delay ofcoz). Why on earth would anybody watch ipl on youtube when you have TV available. It's only for those who are not at home and don't have access to television. Atleast you are getting something legally for free and you are not paying money for Direct TV or someother streaming, be content with that. IPL is taking cricket to masses n to many other new countries. You should thank IPL & modi for reigniting the interest in cricket. Stop being sour grapes for everything and don't think that cricinfo purists are the only ones out there to protect cricket. We love IPL and whether you agree or not you have to live with that. And btw IPL is here to stay, so u better decide if u r gonna do this every year.

Posted by dil333 on (March 16, 2010, 8:19 GMT)

Yeah, sometimes watching cricket can be annoying, especially if you are jumping from feed to feed.

Most illegal feeds are just websites who want to advertise, whereas the orginial links are on websites like justin.tv, share.tv, freedocast and such. People just make many websites where its all piled together, and advertise everywhere. Some have more links than others, and you just want for a link to go down and then try the next one.

Some like this are livevs.com, webcric.com, and crictime.com

If you want a more SOLID, stream though, use a P2P one. Try Spvod.com, and don't forget to click the ENGLISH button.

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