Muralidharan, one of the greatest bowlers of the modern game, tosses up a doosra. With the match over for all intents and purposes and with an asking rate of 20.00 per over, the tail-ender swings across the line. The shot flies straight down mid-wicket’s throat. Murali looks tired and bored as he trudges to the boundary line noiselessly.
Bored and tired.
I am sorry did I say that?
No of course not.
Commentator 1 (in an voice shaking with excitement): That is a Citi moment of success…..Muralidharan tells the batsman Hasta La Vista
Commentator 2 (doubly excited and adding his own smart touch) : I think “baby” goes at the end of that.
Yeah baby. You gotta love that Tarantino-esque in-reference to the Terminator and the “Hasta La Vista Baby” dialog made famous by it.
You gotta love that rap song being sung by expert Jeremy Coney during the Chargers-Chennai game, the ones that goes
Come on Siva Go Chennai
Beat the ball into the sky
Make it soar make it fly
Hit it long hit it high
And most of all you gotta love the IPL commentators, those people for whom it is said that giving them an open mic is like providing the Stoneman a heavy igneous rock or like handing a chainsaw to Leatherface.
After all what is the hype and hoopla of the greatest show on earth in April if it not be for these voluble souls. Commentators or Cricket Jockeys act as force-multipliers for the pulsating excitement of the IPL as they whip up frenzy by adopting the tried and tested styles perfected by masters-of-ceremonies at village freak shows (“Come see the world-famous, never-been-seen-before and will-be-never-seen-again three-headed boy born from the union of man and wolf”).
And through each pearl-shaped word that drops like dewdrops from heaven, these people, in the tradition of Shakespeare and Tennyson, revolutionize the English language with their DLF maximums and Citi moments of success. Such has been their effect on the Queen’s English that it is rumored that the next edition of Wren and Martin’s grammar book will have a chapter right after “adverbs” called “ad-adjectives” to denote the new parts of speech created by pre-fixing a corporate sponsor’s name before a noun.
As we all know, the primary responsibility of IPL commentators, besides peddling magazines with the savvy of salesmen on the 8 o’clock local, is to make the audience at home understand the finer points of the game, the “un-obvious” subtle things that can only be understood by the “experts”. Like how the Deccan Chargers want to get the maximum number of runs they can in the last two overs. Like how the Delhi Daredevils definitely do not want to lose another wicket after losing Sehwag (they would have been presumably been quite happy to lose a wicket otherwise). Like how catches win matches and how running between the wickets eeeees (as a certain commentator likes to pronounce it) very important. Like how the last thing a bowler wants to happen off the last ball of the over is to be hit for a six. (Actually the last thing a bowler wants to happen off his last ball is to bowl a no-ball and then to have a six hit off the resultant free-hit).
But what is sometimes not so well appreciated is how their commentary reveals things novices would not notice with their bare untrained eyes. For instance in a recent match, a batsman sent a ball high into the sky, fielder in the slips took two steps, and then waited quietly for the ball to come down into his palms. But then he grassed it. At which point of time, the hawk-eyed commentator pointed out that the fielder had been going round and round in circles and never looked like taking the catch. This is precisely where the expert brings in value to the cricket-watching experience because I swear I saw the fielder standing pretty steady and still throughout.
Likewise there was this time I saw the batsman trying to clear the leg-side field, the ball took the edge and flew to the off streakily in the process barely eluding the hand of the fielder. I thought “Apna luck pahenke chalo, what a lucky shot”. But the commentator (famous for his understanding of the game) had seen something I did not. Because he presently informed us: “Superb batsmanship. Chipped delicately. And the crowd goes wild.”
Yes the crowd always goes wild. That’s one thing the commentators will keep drilling into you every waking second.
The sheer joy of watching an IPL game.
“There is electricity in the air.”
“This is the encounter everyone has been waiting for (just like they were waiting for that match that took place four hours ago and the one that will take place tomorrow).”
“The audience is on its feet.”
“Have you ever seen a game like this?”
“The clash of the titans.”
“I will tell you what. I have never seen a six go that far.”
It’s not as if the commentators are intentionally engaging in coached hyperbole just to add a bit of drama. No each IPL game is really that exciting and historic.
And the glory of the IPL is that even when there is no action happening, there is still never a boring moment. After all what enhances the appreciation of the great game of cricket more than that newly introduced “break activity” when a pretty lass is culled from the crowd, based on her “cricketing” acumen, as part of the competition wherein a cricket-loving member of the audience will get a chance to be in a Bollywood item number. My heart fills with gladness as invariably every giggling girl says she wants to meet “Saaahrook Kan”.
What indeed could be so close to the spirit of cricket, what indeed could be classier?
Wait. I will tell you what could be classier.Dwanye Smith hits a six with about as much grace and class as an executioner chopping off a head. Right on cue, producer shifts to Cheerleader cam. The camera focuses, in a “from bottom” angle that would make David Dhawan proud, on three DLF maximums as they thrust themselves at the camera with the vigor of Mendis’s carrom ball.
The commentator says in perfect coordination to the images on screen: “This is jaw-dropping stuff” leaving you to contemplate what exactly is supposed to drop our jaws —the original cricket shot or the camera shot.
Educates you. Entertains you. Sells you stuff. And makes you reflect. What more could you ask for from the cricket jockeys?