It is quite funny reading the expert opinions and predictions leading to the World Cup.
Scene of the crime: Some sports channel One of the experts starts off: “India are very strong contenders to win the World Cup. And don’t forget, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Australia can also fancy their chances. Pakistan and West Indies, though unpredictable, can topple any team on their day”. The commentator is not too different from all those TV astrologers we love to ridicule.
Some ex-cricketer joins the fun: “I agree India are a very strong side. Especially at home. The crowd will get behind the team and act as the 12th man. This encouragement should spur them up”
Another one (someone whose qualifications for being on the panel are unknown) disagrees: “Indian team has the expectation of a billion fans. They should make sure they don’t get pressurized. Since this is a long tournament, they should guard themselves against injuries” (I know there are more than a billion Indians, but I am excluding the smug ones who make statements like ‘You still follow cricket? I stopped watching in 2003 itself’)
The ex-cricketer begs to differ: “They are professionals. Pressure and injuries are part and parcel of the game. So it should not matter”
Meanwhile, Ravi Shastri will be thinking as to which of these should be the opening lines of the first presentation ceremony. “Today we witnessed a spectacular game of cricket” “What an absorbing day of play that has been” “What a cracker of a match we had today” “Ladies and gentlemen, today more than 650 runs were scored in front of this fantastic crowd”.
There will be plenty of “the last thing that India now needs is a run out”, “this is just what the doctor ordered”, “that went like a rocket to the fence”, “I just get the feeling he has been sold a dummy here” as well.
Arun Lal will be wondering which of his lines should qualify for the “most obvious statement of the year”: “If you hit the ball over the ropes, you are bound to score 6 runs”. “If you don’t lose wickets, keep ticking ones and twos, score boundaries of bad balls, you will eventually win the match”. “When a throw hits the stumps, if you are outside the crease, you are gonna be declared run out my friend”
Commentators will prepare themselves of what they need to say based on the event and the result. Event: Bowler keeps bowling wicket to wicket Result: He dismisses the batsman Comment: He hardly gave any width. He tied the batsman and made them do something different. And got his reward for his discipline.
Event: Bowler keeps bowling wicket to wicket Result: He does not get a wicket, gives lot of runs Comment: He was predictable and the batsmen cashed in once they got their eye in and got used to the pitch. Pathetic bowling, the bowler should have mixed it up!
Event: Bowler keeps experimenting Result: He does not get a wicket, gives lot of runs Comment:He tried too many things. He did not stick to a plan and did not bowl to his field. He should have bowled wicket to wicket.
Event: Batsman attacks from ball one Result: He scores a quickfire century Comment: He took the attack to the opposition and just went after the bowling. He never allowed them to settle and disrupted their plans.
Event: Batsman attacks from ball one Result: Gets out early Comment: That was pre-meditated. He should have got used to the pace of the pitch before he went on the offensive. Irresponsible batting that.
Not just these, there will be more. Even with so much crap around, I will read each and every article about cricket I stumble upon. When a match is on, I will refresh the cricinfo page before the auto refresh can kick in. I will run over to the office TV room to catch the glimpse of a wicket or the 100th run. I will try to get the latest score over my mobile at the traffic signal. Some things will never change. As I was telling a friend this week, the cricket loving youngster in you never quite grows up!