What’s wrong with cricket?

I’m an avid cricket fan. But of late, the volume of matches has meant that it’s impossible to keep up with the game. Notably, the increase in T20 games and club games (thanks to IPL and CLT20). Tournaments with multiple teams are of course more exciting to watch because there is always a prize at the end of it. Whereas in bilateral series, the question that crops us is, “What’s the point?”

Football is a global game that thrives on the Club level. Because players move around and create interest in either their destination or origin countries. Cricket has managed this to some extent with County cricket previously, but the number of players from overseas countries (read India!) were always too few to elicit sustained interest. Yorkshire became a known name to young cricket lovers only when Tendulkar played for them for a year. Ask most fans (not the hardcore ones, of course) which county Murali Karthik plays for and chances are (despite his recent unsportsmanlike behaviour making the news), not many would know.

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Specialist Commentators, maybe?

T20 has us captivated, agitated, enthralled, angry but hooked. And much has been said about what players are right for the format and what aren’t. Rightly so, too. Horses for courses is very much prevalent in ODI and Test cricket and it’s only natural if this is extended to T20 — the future of cricket.

TV coverage of cricket is pretty standardized. Apart from the cheerleaders, there isn’t much innovation. If you think showing more stats or graphics is innovation, then no. We have had the same stumpcam, same overhead cameras and angles for years now. The picture quality has improved, but that’s about all. The IPL had one innovation with a moving camera over the pitch, but that wasn’t too popular with the players (and also raised some valid questions). So what we are basically left with for additional entertainment are the commentators. And they — at their best — are staid to put it mildly.

If players are chosen for a particular format of the game, why can’t the same apply to commentators? That would rule out such orators as Sunil Gavaskar, Sanjay Manjrekar, Anil Kumble, Nasser Hussain and more who haven’t even ever played T20 (except Kumble). So to be fair, their understanding of the format is as good or poor as the layman. Okay, so they’ve played international cricket, but then, horses for courses, no?

Imagine if some colorful commentators (like Danny Morrison who does talk a bit through his head, but it’s fun) were to take over commentary for T20… that would add to the frenetic pace of the game and make it enjoyable to watch on TV. What we have right now are former players going through a book (perhaps) that has cricketing cliches and reading them out as required.

Just a thought… can’t we have someone who can talk like he is alive (Hussain and Kumble together is a snoozefest at it most exciting moments!) and maybe have some fun too?