I must congratulate you on achieving the seemingly impossible: you have managed to make me watch cricket on Doordarshan.
Not because the national broadcaster has suddenly transformed into something rich and strange – not a chance. The images still look like they came out wrong in the color wash, and the Hindi commentators continue to provide spontaneous, if largely unintentional, amusement.
I discovered Doordarshan largely by accident. At some point during Sunday’s ODI at Guwahati, I went to get a cup of tea and came back to find an ad break that stretched interminably. I wondered why: Had drinks been called for? Or did a wicket fall? Was the batsman fiddling with the sightscreen?
I didn’t have a clue. My restless fingers accidentally hit the ‘guide’ button on the remote, and right up top on the list I saw that DD was showing the game. I hopped over – and found that a new batsman was taking strike. So I was right. A wicket had fallen; there were some replays to show where the ball had pitched and where Hawkeye thought it would hit; a new batsman had walked in – and you did not in your wisdom think I’d be remotely interested in any of these things.
Instead, when a ball from Bollinger hit MS Dhoni on the pad, you waited only long enough to see the umpire begin to raise his hand, and you promptly switched to an ad the tag line of which was ‘Dhak Dhak Go!’. Don’t get me wrong – I am truly appreciative of the sense of humor implicit in that choice of advertisement.
But India was on the skids at the time; Dhoni seemed to be digging in to try and author a turnaround and I really wanted to see if that was a fair decision, whether the wicket had fallen because of the bowler’s skill, the batsman’s inability, or the umpire’s idiocy. Instead, I learnt that some form of automobile lubricant is now available in a 90 ml packing and that it costs Shah Rukh Khan only Rs 7 per sachet to keep his good looks.
At that point I switched to DD, and learnt that the ball had landed within the stumps, but was going straight on, which meant that it was possibly missing off stump, which meant that Dhoni’s attempt at revival had been cut short by the umpire.
All of this may not be as important as the fact that lubricants come in 90 ml packages and some brand of skin bleach now costs only seven bucks a go – but what to say, there is no accounting for tastes, and mine run to the cricket, not to being fair and handsome [No point, no, when you reach an age where chance-met lovelies call you ‘uncle’?].
Don’t get me wrong – I know why you have to be quick on the trigger; I appreciate why you squeeze advertisements in at any and all moments when ball and bat are not in close proximity. After all, if you pay Rs 2400 crore to the BCCI, the only way you are going to make it back is by selling as many ad spots as you possibly can, and then cutting every conceivable corner to rack up the play count.
I had hoped that things would change once your four-year contract ended, but I see that you have this cozy deal with the BCCI whereby you have the option of renewing your contract without going through the tedious formalities of a competitive tender.
But see, all that is your problem. Mine is that I want to see as much of the cricket as I possibly can.