Cricket talk
Randeep Wadehra

NO matter how much one wishes for things to change, they remain the same – especially when it comes to media’s attitude towards cricket vis-`E0-vis other sports. So the Doha games got a rather cursory treatment, barring the coverage of tennis and shooting. The performance of our sportspersons in other events there did not even induce a decent analysis although hockey raised the hackles of some. Maybe the TV channels do not consider it worth their while to have a look at the putrid stagnation in our performances in track and field events that has led to such desperate measures as use of banned performance enhancers by various sportspersons. Or, is it a case of paucity of experts?

There is no such dearth in cricketing matters though. There is Rajiv Shukla who updates us on, among other things, the murky happenings in the not-so-hallowed portals of the BCCI – the Dalmiiya-Pawar feud, for example. But the suave Shukla is a lone ranger of sorts – not committed to any one channel. On the other hand every television channel has its own cricket expert.

The Star News has Sandip Patil who is known as much for his aggressive on-field play as the not-so-successful forays into tinsel town. Now, Patil knows his cricket but if you listen to him you would think that you have wandered into a political discussion. He has one-point agenda – remove Greg Chappel as Team India’s coach. He got so carried away with this theme during the one day series in SA that he lost all moderation of speech. Consequently, India’s Test Match performance has left him red-faced. This is what happens when one sticks one’s neck out too much and too often.

On the other hand, the Madan Lal-Chetan Sharma duo on Aaj Tak wouldn’t attack a personality no matter what the provocation. They scrupulously stick to the on-field action without getting too judgmental. But there is a difference between the two. Invariably Madan Lal starts with nahin nahin even when he agrees with the questioner’s views. Thence he proceeds to present his analysis in an unsystematic yet lucid manner – his Hindustani laced with syrupy Amritsari Punjabi. Chetan Sharma is less diffident and comes to the point directly. When asked to give his opinion on a cricketer or Guru Greg he prefers not to duck but opines only on technical aspects of the game. And yes, he has made up his mind to resort to shudh Sanskritised Hindi. Eyeing a slot on Doordarshan?

CNN-IBN has Krish Srikanth. It goes without saying that he is knowledgeable and an expert worth listening to. What marks him out is his quirky humour that leaves one wondering whether he has made a serious comment or cracked a joke. He does, though occasionally, call a spade a shovel but he prefers to grind his axe by resorting to couched civilities. He might disagree with Greg’s coaching methods or Dravid’s cricketing decisions, but would not resort to harsh comment.

NDTV’s Ajay Jadeja too is in the same mould. Diplomatese is his forte but one enjoys his analytical comments. He has been thoroughly professional in his approach and attitude and rarely goes ballistic when India loses.