And it is a six! Short ball put away over square leg! And everyone is on their feet cheering and clapping loudly. You might think this is a scene at a cricket stadium during an IPL match. Wrong. This is the scene in a hostel common room at IISc during an IPL match. I remembered the days when we watched cricket matches on the common room TV at BITS. It is always fun to watch cricket on TV with some enthusiastic fans.
The room is jam packed. The match is a nail biter. All eyes are on the screen from no matter where. Some guys even stand behind the TV and peep from the side. It’s much more fun when India is playing because all guys are supporting one team. So when you have an umpire’s decision that goes against India, the people start swearing and abusing the umpire even if he was correct. Everyone gets really pumped up. But there are some guys who act cool as though they don’t really care who wins. Then there are some like me, who cheer the other team just to irritate the diehard fans. And also your lone voice is heard when you cheer loudly when everyone else is quiet. It is a treat to see all the dirty looks by the diehard fans!
Then we have the commentators and anchors who are supposed to enhance the match viewing experience. The less said about the non cricketing commentators the better. They are there for the soap opera effect which attracts the economically active population of India. Yes, you guessed right, the ladies. Once that has been achieved, then its time to bombard the audience with unlimited number of ads. Actually the IPL has proved that all the BCCI and Set Max want is money. From the senseless cheer girls to the obscene number of advertisements that pop up all the time to having some jokers discussing the flaws in Sachin’s batting technique, everything is directed towards making the gentleman’s game into a money spinning carnival. Cricket is almost incidental.
Talking about commentators, it is really amusing to listen to some of their comments. For example when the ball takes the outside edge and goes for a boundary, the commentator says ‘he will take it’. How idiotic! Does he have a choice? Imagine the batsman going up the umpire and saying "Ump, I don't want that 4 as I did not play a proper shot and it flew off the edge, so deduct it from my and the team's total." Or when a run out occurs they say “ x team didn’t need a run out at this stage”. At what stage does a batting team ‘need’ a run out? Another stupid comment I hear often is ‘the ball is not coming on to the bat’. Now if the bowler bowls towards the bat, the ball will go on to the bat. If he swings or spins the ball away from the batsman, how will the ‘ball come on to the bat’? But our old hindi commentators on DD1 take the cake. They used to get excited and go ultrasonic whenever the ball crossed the 30 yard circle. Something like this. “Aur yeh agli gain, fultoss aur gumma dia mid wicket ke uppar (high pitch!), gain boundary ki taraf ja rahi hai, (by now he is ultrasonic! But then suddenly the pitch falls..) lakin fielder maujooth, ek hi run milega..” But all that said, the commentators do add another dimension to the viewing experience even if they use a lot of asinine clichés.
So then it is time to head to the nearest TV and cheer at the top of your voice for your team and the cheerleaders shaking their booty. Who said cricket is all about bat v/s ball?