05 January 2015

Of Sanjay Manjrekar and L.Sivaramakrishnan

The new Indian cricket commentator in English. 

Of the second tier of Indian commentators in English, comprising mostly of cricketers who played for India since 1990, Sanjay Manjrekar and L.Sivaramakrishnan have the most exposure.

Of course Rahul Dravid, Saurav Ganguly, VVS Laxman and Navjot Singh Sidhu all appear in the commentator’s studio from time to time, but none of them have done series after series consistently. In case of the first three, mostly it seems like that they are recently retired and still value the family time that they have been able to get, and that having being been some of the highest paid Indian cricketers of the last decade, they do not need the remunerative aspect of commentating. VVS also makes mistakes in English, but its hard to dislike that or make any issue with that because his enthusiasm comes through and makes you smile (and of course its not our first language so grammar can go take a hike).

Sidhu of course, was the original star of the this 2nd generation of commentators, the progenitor of bad jokes; he has had to pay a huge price for his popularity as TV studios have swooped in to put him up in reality TV in a big way – almost to the extent of ruining his political career.

Akash Chopra and  Murali Kartik have recently started appearing in Ten/Neo sports cricket coverage – but those are basically cut price outfits which are not willing to pay anything for a decent producer to direct the show - the conversations don’t seem go anywhere, and the quality of coverage suggests that it had been recorded on second hand 80s equipment.  Akash Chopra of course also now taps into the Cricinfo mega network, and now Murali has managed to get into 2014-15 Border Gavaskar commentary.

But Sanjay - he is really maturing as a commentator. I think the best thing is that he has been given the hard task of introducing each random commercial segment of the pre-post match shows. Where he has to say Lava Super Fours. And he is almost apologetic when he has to say - with a twisted smile, and an odd way of putting it forth. He is self effecaing enough about his own record, especially when Ganguly and Dravid are around (though he is much more senior a cricketer). And he is not pompous. Thats what I hate about Ganguly. Sanjay and Dravid together are a delight - both probably the most technically correct batsmen ever produced by India, and both are the least likely to fault any other batsmen on technical aspects; always leaving space in their comments to be not absolutely hard on anyone.

What helps Sanjay is I think his years of producing cricket compilation videos. He learnt the art of looking directly into a camera and speaking to a viewer, which is not something the rest have mastered yet - maybe Ravi Shastri and Harsha Bhogle. The rest want to talk to each other. In their living room.

Siva - I am thankful that Siva is not doing as much commentary now  as he used to. What a terrible speaker. If his accent wasn't bad enough, his descriptions, his manner - everything. Am sure we have more English speaking ex-cricketeers than him. W.V. Raman and others who do Ranji games are so much better. Worst. Piss offs.


[To be completed]

Dhoni eulogies | Harsha speaks something new

 Harsha Bhogle sometimes suffers from over exposure. This is especially true during any cricket series played in India, where he is in the com box, in the post match presentation, in the papers each day, and is more or less a big celebrity himself.  

Rare is the scene then when Harsha speaks something which sounds new, or which has not been noticed before. All his sentences start “I/you/one gets the feeling that...da da da”. When one starts talking about feelings, the stage is set wide open for all sorts of things.

So it is one rare instance in this article on Dhoni (http://www.starsports.com/cricket/columns/columnist=126/articleid=1374417/index.html) that he actually had an insight: “That is why he liked one-day cricket. It has two logical ends. If you can’t take 10 wickets, you squeeze out 50 overs. In the last couple of years, as bats grew bigger, as end overs hitting became more sophisticated, he struggled there too because his team didn’t take enough wickets early on. But at least you could outscore the opposition over 50 overs. In Test cricket, he couldn’t do that. So India increasingly looked like a side that waited for the opposition to set the game. It was different in India where he had the surfaces that allowed his bowlers to dominate.

That Dhoni has been suffering in ODIs because the rules and bats and the contests in ODIs have been diluted. That Dhoni (probably like all other captains) does not enjoy the new ODI rules. That India has not been doing well enough in ODIs as well. Will update this with some stats later. But Dhoni's  recent discomfort in ODIs is well noted Harsha; and is something to watch out for given the World Cup 2015.

With regards to Harsha - maybe going abroad helps him. A little away from adulation. and little more of radio commentary where you have to look at the game differently.

My main worry is that I am not really doing what Dhoni is telling me to do. Dhoni is about living in the present. About doing things. I read somewhere that he doesn’t sit and watch full matches, has never done. If Dhoni is inspirational then what are we doing sitting here and watching full matches, discussing, analysing, and more or less wasting our times.

as an unabashed Dhoni fan, bunch of mixed feelings. Unhappy that he never got the bowlers to correct the overseas record. Happy that he doesn't have to endure the taunting of Kohli captaincy fans (who will soon see that captaincy without the required bowlers, or benevolent declaring opposing captains is not as much fun). Happy that he got to get out on his own terms - no press conference, no bullshit, like he always has lived his life. And happy that he still has some of the best overall test captaincy records for an Indian captain, and some of the best wicketkeeping records, and managed to work his batsmanship enough to be counted as one of the leading wicketkeeping-batsmen of all time.
Now lets see what he brings to the WC. I have a feeling that it is going to bring a Imran Khan style take no prisoners campaign at the world cup. ‪#‎dhoniretires‬