The epic battle in the Twitterverse

Is between those who want to watch noisy cricket and those who'd rather hear birds er tweet

Andrew Hughes

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Vinay Kumar flattens Rohit Sharma's stumps, Royal Challengers Bangalore v Mumbai Indians, IPL, Bangalore, April 4, 2013
Key commentary insight No. 32: "Make no mistakes, the batsman will be disappointed by that dismissal" © BCCI
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Series/Tournaments: Indian Premier League
Teams: England | India

Like Luke Skywalker wandering into the Mos Eisley cantina, when I joined Twitter recently I found it a little bewildering. There are some angry, angry people on there, even in the section where the cricket tragics gather - near the toilets, not too far from the band. I've grabbed myself a corner seat, kept my head down and observed the rum goings-on, keeping an eye on the chap with the oversized rabbit teeth who has obviously taken a dislike to me.

As a fairly lazy kind of individual, I don't tweet very often. It's so hard to know what isn't tweetworthy and what definitely isn't. But the industriousness of other twitterers is eye-opening. Lalit Modi has a strike rate of tweets per minute that even outdoes the official ball-by-ball IPL feed. His Lalitness clicks on the little blue button so often that I'm struggling to keep up with what he's saying, or at least, I would be if I was reading them.

I've also had a ringside seat at a mass squabble that is becoming a springtime tradition. Yes, once again its hurricane season in the cricket tea cup as two communities count down with barely suppressed excitement to completely different events. One has asked Santa for a copy of Old Bore's County Preview Almanack. The other is hoping for a Kolkata tea cosy. Come the big day, nerves get frayed. Hair is pulled. Cyberspace is thick with sarcasm and league envy.

But, children, there's no need for the hissy fits. We can all get what we want. If you want to watch some of the best players in the world throwing themselves about in front of tens of thousand spectators, a purple and gold clad Brett Lee tearing in and uprooting off stump first ball, or Murali bowling to Ponting and Tendulkar, then you can. If that's not your bag, you can sit in the cold and watch Derbyshire.*

Of course, if you're British and you want to catch the IPL, you'll have to go through ITV 4 first. In an effort to deter us, they've lined up all of the world's worst adverts. Are you a woman? Then you must like washing machines. Do you have a Y chromosome? Then I just know you're going to love this car being driven through a non-specific European city in the dark. Are you elderly? Well it's chairlifts and Elgar for you.

And so it goes on. Do your worst, ITV4, you won't get me to turn over. I've got a mute button the size of a large postage stamp and I'm not afraid to use it.

Now normally I'd also have my button thumb going like the clappers during the game itself. But this year I'm trying an experiment. Instead of silencing Ravi and chums the moment they open their mouths, I've decided to give them a chance. And they are rewarding my tolerance with some choice tomfoolery.

A television commentator is employed to tell us what we've already seen, so in superfluous the moment he clears his throat. Shouts of "Wow!" or "Crikey!" or "Look at that!" can wear thin after a few seconds, so they need to come up with new ideas from time to time.

One thing they can offer is technical insight. In Wednesday's opening game, the booth's resident neuroscientist** trumped all that tedious talk of averages, strike rates and so on. He'd been studying the pre-tournament MRI scans and was able to confirm that the in-coming Johan Botha had a massive cricket brain. Sadly, six balls later, Johan was out buttock before wicket playing a silly shot, and had to drag his massive cricket brain back to the bench.

Undaunted, Commentator X was dabbling in fortune-telling in Thursday's game. After a stately start to their innings, Pondulkar was ticking along nicely before Sachin went for a little jog and didn't quite get back in time. As we watched the replays, we looked to the experts to guide us. The commentators confidently predicted that Tendulkar would not be out, and, what's more, that it would be a good decision. All eyes went to the screen. Out said the screen.

Keep this up chaps, and I may never mute again.

* In the interests of balance, I should point out that other shires are available. Lots of them.

**16:24:42 GMT, April 8, 2013: The piece originally named a commentator here, who was later revealed to not have been at the game in question. The error is regretted.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England. He tweets here

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Posted by Dummy4 on (April 8, 2013, 13:23 GMT)

Hilarious article. Seriously, watching as well hearing those pre and post match IPL shows is a punishment of sorts. Please Andrew, consider breaking your promise and do write a whimsical book about village cricket. :)

Posted by RAJARAMAN on (April 8, 2013, 13:13 GMT)

But still ... SRT was not run-out ... clearly dubious decision ... what can Doull do about that ... it is a lottery that they are running ... more lucky you are ... more shouting you do

Posted by Deeksha on (April 8, 2013, 6:02 GMT)

I would LOVE to have Andrew Hughes alongside Harsha Bhogle in the commentary box. For one thing, the matches would actually become interesting. I'd never stop laughing.

Posted by Suman on (April 7, 2013, 22:49 GMT)

To be honest, I would rather have Andrew commentating than the bunch of screamers we have up there now. Although, getting rid of those so called DLF Maximums and Carboon Kammal or whatever that is definitely is an improvement this year. My mute button is at least getting some rest :)

Posted by Dummy4 on (April 7, 2013, 10:50 GMT)

@crikhardcore: possibly because Andrew has never played international cricket, and therefore no broadcaster would want to employ him. Broadcasters seem to think that former international players will automatically make the best commentators, and no-one else is worth bothering with. If only every TV channel was like the BBC when recruiting for TMS: Arlott, Johnston, Blofeld, Martin-Jenkins - not a single international appearance between them (although Blowers once came close), but infinitely better commentators than anyone associated with the IPL will ever be. Richie Benaud is the only one who's been both a great player and a great commentator, although a few others are noteworthy.

Posted by Simon on (April 7, 2013, 4:43 GMT)

The ludicrous frequency of Lalits' twitterings are a good guide into the mind of a man who saw popcorn cricket in an obsessed land as an excellent way to line his bespoke suits. It's hard to discern which becomes more irrelevant first; Lalits latest or the care factor on the result of Pune Pathetics v Sundials of Hyderbad.

Go easy on Doull, Andrew, you seem to be getting worked up about the ramblings of a 3rd rate cricketer about the supposed cricket nous of a 3rd rate cricketer, while watching 3rd rate cricket. It's akin to Doulls' former teammate & rocket scientist Dinny Morrisun screeching a coupla seasons ago about some unknown Indian launching a maximum into the stratosphere and then lamenting his cavalier attitude after being bowled the next ball. Sure I remember Dinny as I'd seen him bowled in Australia on quite a few occasions, but can't for the life of me remember the Indian, the two teams or the result. Popcorn without the salt and butter leaves no after taste.

Posted by Gopi on (April 6, 2013, 7:56 GMT)

Well,Andrew if your'e such a good commentator why don't you go out there and talk.Easy typing away all these things.

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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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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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