Tag Archives: IPL

The Most Annoying Indian Commentators

Maninder Singh: Maninder Singh was signed by Doordarshan as a part of their historic show – Fourth Umpire. Between ads of Mysore Sandal Soap and Dandi Namak, Maninder Singh peppered the match with his own wit and understanding of the game.

He’s a nice chap and all that. Friendly, smiling, and safely neutral. He does not have the balls of Navjyot Singh Sidhu, nor any radical suggestion. But he has the one outstanding quality that is required of a Doordarshan commentator – boredom.

Maninder Singh can make Inception seem like Shaadi No.1. Picking out the most obvious and boring points in every department of the game, Maninder Singh was instrumental in maintaining the brand and image of Doordarshan.

Then he got caught doing cocaine.

Atul Wassan: It is said you don’t have to enter the ditch to see if it is dirty. Atul Wassan follows the same principle when it comes to commentary. Having played for India for a full year, Atul Wassan uses all his acumen and understanding of the game to criticize everything – from Rahul Dravid’s footwork, to Dhoni’s follow through.

What makes Atul Wassan a handy commentator is his ability to easily shift from English to Hindi – and successfully transform the most exciting match into a drab affair, but easily understood by the entire nation.

Arun Lal: is the only one to have truly crossed over from Fourth Umpire to the Big League. Arun Lal can be regularly found pissing off firang commentators, and making them smile with his jokes, after he has had a hearty laugh at them himself.

Arun Lal is also heard in the IPL, where he displays extremely creative usage of terms like Karbonn Kamaal Catch and DLF Maximum. Sample this.

“The minimum they need is a DLF maximum. HAHAHAHA

Kindly note the clever juxtaposition of the word minimum next to the word maximum. Very very clever. Arun Lal truly is dharti ka laal.

Ravi Shastri: I know many of you will be shocked to find Shastri in the same list as Maninder Singh and Arun Lal. But fact is, Ravi Shastri is the Jackie Shroff of cricket commentary. Very popular at one time, and a rambling, has-been at present, Shastri’s booming voice has become as pleasant to the ears as the Nokia ringtone.

He says the same thing over and over again. “That’s just what the doctor ordered. He knew exactly what he was doing. That’s gone to the boundary like a bullet. Clean as a whistle. Lofted in the air, high and mighty.” It is a barrage of similies, proverbs, one-liners and comparisions that are as old as the hills.

The revelation that Shastri and Gavaskar are paid by the BCCI to air the views of the board wasn’t shocking to me at all. On some days, Shastri has this distinct, drunk look on his face, you wonder if he took one large swig and sat down in the commentary box.

The icing on the cake was the toss of the World Cup final. MS spins the coin, and this is when the commentator should announce what was called. Shastri has no clue what’s going on, and then after everything is over, turns to the camera and says,

“We will do this again. The problem? The noise”, he says, pointing to his ear.

I was a tad disappointed him and Gavaskar didn’t break into the naagin dance after the World Cup was over.

One of those days when Shastris not Sobers! 😉

Sunil Gavaskar: The Holy Man of cricket, the God under whom every Indian cricketer, critic and fan is supposed to bow down and pray. Gavaskar has an opinion on everything, even when it is not related to Indian cricket. Not that it’s a bad thing.

The only problem is that he makes sure everyone around him knows what he feels, and agrees with him. Watching him have a go at the Australians is fun, but only for five minutes. After that, it is a preachy sermon on ethics and values, and how cricket has been degenerated because of T-20, and ethics aren’t a part of cricket anymore.

Here, I would like to point out two incidents. One, the 1980 Australian tour, where on being given out, Sunil Gavaskar wasn’t very pleased. It’s funny to see him lecturing on the need to be ‘walk’ when judged ‘out’. Well, walk he did. Only, he took his non-striker along with him, and refused to play the match. Not very ethical, are we?

The second grudge I have against Gavaskar is his criticism of T20. He very smartly avoids saying the word ‘IPL’ in his rants, but serves along with Shastri as part of the IPL’s Governing Council. Why not quit that job and work towards promoting Test cricket? Or better still, why not just accept the money and shut the hell up?

It’s this hypocrisy that makes me puke.

Gavaskar, Shastri and Bhogle share inside jokes and giggle around, screw the match and the audience. Coz apart from the regular match fees, they are being paid 3 crores to pass the BCCI’s word. Who gives a fuck?

According to a news report last month, it was reported that “the two respected opinion makers have been contracted by the BCCI for an annual fee of Rs 3.6 crore each to spread the Board’s gospel – on issues such as UDRS, IPL, or umpiring decisions that may be adverse to Indian interests.”

A “senior BCCI member” is quoted as saying “They cannot say anything that goes against the policy or interests of the Board,” A “top BCCI official” is also quoted saying “Yes, both Shastri and Gavaskar are employed with the Board as commentators. We tell the TV companies that they have to take them on board as our official commentators,”

If only they asked the audiences what we thought of their opinions!

Harsha Bhogle: Probably the most disappointing of the lot is our man Harsha Bhogle. For many years, Harsha Bhogle was our man in the box. He was not a cricketer, but had a fair understanding of the game, and made interesting conversations with the experts. He brought in views that spectators feel, and showed that it is possible to understand the game without being old, or boring.

But then, he got himself a hair transplant. For me, that was selling out.

Ever since, Harsha Bhogle is all over. He has written books on cricket, on success, on winning, and picking one’s nose. Anything you need to know, Mr. Bhogle will be there to tell you. He started writing articles on how other sports can catch up with cricket, and how Team India is the prime example of leadership skills. He sold tea, and gyaan, and advice, and started sounding exactly like Shastri and Gavaskar.

Now, after two decades, I think it is time for Shastri, Gavaskar and Bhogle to retire. There isn’t anything new or original they say anyway. And the BCCI could save 7.2 crores a year, and use it judiciously for other things that have long been pending.

Like that surgery for Shreesanth at NIMHANS.


(PS: I know many of you will demand for Sidhu to be put on the list. But may I gently remind you that Sidhu is not just a commentator. He is a laughter critic, an MP, and an entrant into Bigg Boss. Such varied interests transcend the realms of a mere commentator, and deserve special mention. Also, I don’t wish to meet Sidhu at a parking lot!)

Joy to the World, IPL is done!

After the rant on the World Cup ads, it is only fitting that I do a review on this year’s IPL as well. For those who are visiting from Neptune, the Indian Premier League is the world’s second largest sporting franchise. In just four years, the league has created a worth of 3.67 billion dollars.

While it is true that Indians love cricket, and will watch the highlights of a Zimbabwe vs Bangladesh match on a Sunday afternoon, there is something more than just the Indians’ love for cricket that keeps the IPL going.

IPL is truly the first by-product of Bollywood and cricket. Well, there is Saif Ali Khan, but he took really long to take off. IPL has been able to cater to the two largest categories of people in India: those who watch cricket and those who watch films. The only ones left out are terrorists, babas, and the Monkey Man. And Indians are a loving and forgiving audience. How else can you explain a Sanjay Manjarekar, who had no skills to talk of managing to play for ten years? And Suneil Shetty, whose greatest competition is himself and a few trees, still manage to remain in the news?

IPL has been able to bring together both these loving and forgiving audiences and given them something new to trip over every evening, for 45 evenings a year. So Shilpa Shetty is the Big Sister of the Rajasthan Royals, and manages to bring Small Sister to the matches too, thereby ensuring her television time as well. And girls fromDelhiwould say “Yo! KKR rawx” on Facebook even though their knowledge of cricket would be limited to the idea that ‘no ball’ is a physical condition.

The biggest difference this year was the absence of the creator, Mr. Modi himself. For three years, Modi lived his dream, rubbing shoulders with Bollywood actresses, having a million followers on Twitter and the like.

Citi Moments of Success and DLF Maximum have become a part of everyday lore. There is a match everyday and the newspapers trying to make things look interesting every morning. This year wasn’t much difficult. Preity Zinta’s team still sucks, the cheerleaders still jump and laugh in joy after every boundary.

The Good: There cant be much good left in the fourth edition, excepting Rocky IV, but this year, there was something that was a treat to the fans: Chris Gayle. Its really marvellous, the impetus a nice fat package does. This IPL, he was Krish Gayle: he booted the bowlers out of the pack, took wickets in every match, and dived while fielding. I mean, when did you see Chris Gayle dive for anything? But this year, its as if Chris crashed into Mallya’s party and said “Yo maan! Wassap? Gimme ma Passat”. Turning out one champion performance after another, it really was a treat to watch Gayle when he is in that kind of form and Venkatesh Prasad is in the same team, and will not be bowling.

It was a little sad to watch Shane Warne bow his hat. Like his international career, Warnie did it with typical showman charisma. Coached and captained the leanest team to victory, and retired when he still had it. But the end has to come, and Warne, with Liz Hurley at his side, looks ready for a new kind of match, and one can only wish him luck, and remind him that it is possible to track and retrieve text messages. Apart from these two, I cant see much that was special this year.

There were a lot of things to crib about, though, and we shall analyse each of them one by one.

Advertisements: Zoo-zoos managed to retain interest, thanks to some good ads. Many of the other ads were repeats from the World Cup, but trust Shah Rukh to come up with something new for his fans.

KKR ads are like SRK films: loud and dramatic. Through all his ads, he seems to be asking his fans if they really are smarter than a fifth grader. So this year, they came up with a campaign through which fans could pass on a message to the cricketers. So how do you show that you can get your voice across to the team? Ok, how about this? We make Shah Rukh speak in the voices of the people. Very subtle.

So there are ads where SRK walks into the dressing room and asks his team to drink lassi, burst bubblewrap, and gives a player a head massage.. Fans of Dan Brown will say this could be a hint as to why Dada left the team. May Champ didn’t want a Champi from Champu.

The rest of the ads were the typical IPL ads, hastily made, and in poor taste.

Commentary: The IPL is harvest time for ex-cricketers. Everyone from Chetan Chauhan to Manoj Prabhakar becomes an expert on the day’s proceedings. Only in the IPL can Mark Boucher be on the commentary box one day and then a week later, be playing for one of the teams. There wasn’t much to talk about the commentary. Ravi Shastri and Sunil Gavaskar were at it again.

For seasoned viewers of the league, it has become like a game where you guess what they are going to say next. The World Cup victory has brought a halo on them and Sunil Gavaskar seems generally pleased with the world, and has not taken potshots at any Australian cricketer this time.

Studio and Extra Innings: This is something no IPL viewer will ever be able to evade. For a month and a half, he watches Navjot Singh Sidhu. Yes, Navjot Singh Sidhu is still a part of the expert panel. After reports of him having told a fellow commentator “Oye guru, don’t f*ck with me”, Mr. Sidhu is now part of the pre and post match analysis sessions.

Indiaas a nation has learnt to live with Navjot Singh Sidhu. So it is actually fun to watch him draw wonderful similies from thin air, a true artist of the absurd. The cheerleaders are so unexciting, not even the Shiv Sena guys bothered to file a PIL this year.

As a final touch of IPL subtlety, this year Harsha Bhogle and Sunil Gavaskar were wearing kurtas. And just so that you wouldn’t mistake them to be commenting for an ICL match, they had the IPL logo embroidered on their collars and neck.

With two new teams, the IPL has a lot of questions to ask itself. While there will always be speculation about retaining the interest of the viewer, I have a different take on the issue. I watch the IPL for a different reason. IPL isIndia’s show of strength to the cricketing world.

It is the time of the year when the BCCI can jack off its ego in front of the entire cricketing world. The IPL is also the time when every big cricketer in the world is willing to hang up his boots and come to play for a Mukesh Ambani. When South African fast bowler Wayne Parnell says Ashish Nehra is his role model. What greater revenge can India take on Symonds, than to make him share the dressing room with Bhajji for more than a month? Smile and bear it, buddies. But we have the money, and after years of sledging, and abusing, and using mental disintegration techniques, you now play for us. After retiring from your own teams.

Well, I know this is a little pompous thinking. I dont own the Mumbai Indians, but at least there is a deep sense of satisfaction, when I see all these guys – Ponting, Gilchrist, Symonds, and McGrath going ‘under the hammer’, quite literally. And see them appear in tacky advertisements for the money. I hope some Indian company signs Ponting for an ad where he gets kissed by Rakhi Sawant, just for the kick of it.

So it was fun while it lasted. See you guys again next year, slogging your asses off so that Subrata Sahara Roy or Mukesh Ambani can earn some money.

Now, lets get back to reruns of Dharam Veer and No Entry on Sony Max.