Wednesday, January 19, 2005

What is cricket all about?

"That's what cricket is all about!" a broadcaster said in anguish after a catch was dropped during a recent Bangladesh-Zimbabwe match I bulletined. Not long after, as the batsmen scampered the length of the pitch and barely made their destination, the same commentator stated emphatically, "That's what cricket is all about."

"That's a good shot!" said another commentator when the shot we just saw was indeed a good one. "That's another good shot!" he continued, before ending with "That's a grrrreat shot!" for variation.

After briefly interrupting his commentary with common sense, the commentator then declared about the Bangladesh captain, "He has to get the bull with the horns," thereby implying that Habibul Bashar, the Bangladesh captain, currently had a harmless bull on his hands. But the man wasn't done yet. "He has to target his main bowlers," the commentator said of Bashar - who was smiling benignly when the camera cut to him - prompting visions of Bashar doing a Tonya Harding on Mortaza, Enamul and Rafique.

A little later, Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, the man who moves my thumb to the mute button, declared, "It's all happening here." Where, Siva, where? I didn't see anything happen for five days.

Not to be outdone by himself, Siva returned to drive a stake through the heart of good commentary with a cheery "He's enjoying this," followed by silence. I stared at the screen, hoping to catch a glimpse of the enjoyment Siva had seen. I kept staring for a while before it struck me that for Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, commentary was not just about the happenings on-field. It was about creating excitement. Like making a summer blockbuster with a nail clipping as subject.

Not everything needs to be spoken about. Commentary needs the touch of a Wong Kar Wai, not Jerry Bruckheimer, for light and shadow can be as dramatic, and more unexpected than an explosion. The perennial lilt in Siva's voice builds an image of a man who is excited by everything, even a depressingly slow passage of play. It casts on the commentator, sometimes unfairly, a light that shows his detachment from reality, and questions whether he believes his own words. The emotion of excitement is forced onto comments that do not demand that particular emotion. And like with all forced emotions, a niggling suspicion is aroused. Suspicion is not something any commentator needs from his viewers, for he loses credibility. It is a downward spiral.

Silence holds a certain power. It is a crutch to hold on to when words and emotions fail you.

Update: This piece underwent several edits. Sorry if that's not the blog thang to do.


Dhruv Deepak said...

Yes indeed sir,
Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, a verrrrry good commentator.

i quote "presscenting the foolll phase of the bat!"

enthusiasm is good, but he's no commentator!

Anonymous said...

He looks like an uglier Dave Chappelle, I didnt even know that was possible. I HATE him. He has no idea of what he is saying and he is talking among some cricket greats like Ian Botham and Dean Jones.
My kid threw up when he got a glimpse of him.

Anonymous said...

i DO indeed press MUTE when hes on and listen to the commentary on the radio.

i can not stand the man!!!! WHO IS HE!? where did he come from!?

wot an ugly man!

wot a fucking shit commentator

why is he given the opportunitis to take interviews and do the presentations?

fucking cunt

Spanish Main Capital said...

Nice piece.

Yes I too cant stand the voice which defies any reasoning. Imagine a war cry without a war to follow.
But in all fairness I am happy the fellow got a chance to make some money, he was a decent bloke who shot to fame didnt know how to handle it and then his fall was just as quick.
Hopefully he will be happy with another years worth of contract money and then fade. Let semblance return, it will save my mute button my wrath.

Anonymous said...

Well I don't think criticising him based on looks is the right thing to do.

But his commentary? Omfg... he is so shit it's amazing. I feel like scraping walls with my fingernails when I hear him. Why does he keep getting these important gigs? Don't the channels know the audience hates his commentary? But then maybe they don't.