I am in my mid-twenties, but I can’t hide my love for a bunch of cartoons that I grew up watching. Some of my favourites are Tom & Jerry, The Scooby Doo Where Are You? Show and The Popeye Show. There was a stretch in my childhood, when my whole family would not miss a single weeknight of Scooby and Popeye on TV sets. To be frank, my parents also took advantage of this addiction and would make me and my little sister eat greens (lots of spinach of course) before watching the show. It was all good. They were classics! Kids of all age loved it.
The one thing common among them all is that after many years of the classic version somebody felt the need to bring out more episodes. New episodes with new ideas. I did not enjoy any of the new ones. It was just not the same. Jerry did not have the wily-ness, Popeye wasn’t inspiring and Scooby Doo and his gang didn’t work the same. People wanted to make something better, but ruined something good.
Don’t break what is not broken.
I have recently been lamenting about various things in cricket only because there are many things to lament about as a fan of the game. Only yesterday, I had a little conversation with Mr. Nitin Sundar, and we went back about how we liked to watch One Day cricket in the ’90s. We talked about television, coloured-clothing, media, advertising and all. It was all nostalgic.
Nitin reminded us of the anticipation we had to have a look at the jerseys that teams wore in those days, noting that today it is a uniform. The ESPN introductory music before/after play/session is something that still lingers in our memory. The new ones may be good, I’m not to judge. But, the old one was what we grew up with, and we loved it.
Cricket has been a minting ground for advertisers. Advertisers were in cricket before, they are here now. Only, more in numbers. And in many more ways.
Long ago, I remember games at Sharjah having rope boundary, long lengths of the ground being cordoned with “Khaleej Times” advertisement boards, and a tall tower holding the sponsor of the current tournament, and also displaying the schedule and participating team of the next tournament at Sharjah.
Today, advertisers have taken every inch of space and speech available. Ropes are dressed with advertisers’ name on them, brand names fight for advertisement boards near the boundary, the stadia are pasted with additional posters, the what is supposed to look lush green square is painted with multiple advertisers’ names stretching more than 20 yards in any direction, the stumps, umpires’ shirts, the sight screen, the bats… The advertisers are everywhere you see. And then there are the worst layers of commentators even parrots would disown who would senselessly repeat the name of sponsors for boundaries, catches, wickets, drops, hit wickets, no balls, body blows and whatever else you can imagine.
And there there are advertisement breaks that cut in before the last ball is fielded in the deep. There are advertisements that shrink the screen and prop up. There are advertisements than prop up on the screen like a brilliant Telugu movie graphic so it appears like the brand’s motor bike is actually on ground and then it disappears, putting me in awe one moment and in anger the next.
Then, there is this sea of statistics that were invented. What is one going to do with the knowledge of speed off the bat, or distance of a six is beyond me. Just because you can doesn’t mean you have to. And in test matches, I don’t even want to know how many balls the batsman has faced. I actually don’t even care about replays being shown hot-spot. I can see the batsman middle the ball, I don’t have to ogle over a hot-spot replay of it. I don’t even want to see the hawk-eye replay of the last over as frequently as it is shown.
I would love to save this time to show some spectators on TV. They long for such moments. The old man snoring wakes up and wears a sheepish grin. The young woman blushes behind her boy-friend’s shoulders, the ball boys frantically wave their hands at the screen while turning their heads the other way to see it on the big screen, two girls tap each other and point at the camera and you can lip read them shout “I Love Sachin”… You can actually give the crowd some air-time. They take some time thinking over their chart/placard, the face art, the wig, the slogans. It will not hurt to give the people who sustain it something back.
If the cheerleaders are to attract people to the ground, don’t show them on TV. I can see gyrating people on many other channels on my television. But anyway, I don’t think cheerleaders are ones who should attract people to the grounds. It should be Hashim Amla’s cover drives, Virat Kohli’s leg flicks, Saeed Ajmal’s doosras, Ross Taylor’s wave of hands to the spectators… One has to want to see it live.
I have very little experience of live match viewing, none of limited over cricket. But, I tell you, to watch somebody like Ambati Rayudu bat all day, go through different gears was much better to watch at the beautiful Motibaug Stadium here in Baroda, than on the TV sets. Same with Irfan Pathan’s swing.
The television should try to bring as much of the in-stadia experience to the people back home as possible. If the commentators stopped talking during the deliveries, one could sometimes hear (the silence of) the spectators holding their breath, or slowly pumping their voices up when the bowler runs in at a crucial juncture. The commentators should know when to be silent, instead of advertising on air.
I don’t want to know what feature the new Micromax mobile has whenever the cricket takes a break. There are enough mobile stores nearby. Heck, I don’t even want to buy your memorabilia. I want to see the batsmen talk in the middle, the keeper talk to slips, the square leg fielder share a joke with the umpire, the crater on the moon (they showed a lot of that when day/night games started at Sharjah).
Not all of us get to travel to these grounds. But all of want to know how good London is. What Sydney looks like. Where people in Auckland go when free. Except for games in Sri Lanka and West Indies, you would have no clue what is around the stadium.
Come on, bring on the good old days. On TV, I want to watch cricket and things around it, not advertisements.
(photo credit : http://bensix.wordpress.com/2011/01/27/most-beautiful-view-in-the-world/ )