Since the time Cricket broadcasters and Indian advertisers deemed it fit to push L-shaped ads, Pop-up ads, Exploding ads, Crawly ads in the middle of a delivery of all things during the recent India – South Africa cricket series, heralding a new low for even the greedy broadcasters and the even greedier BCCI, reducing the cricket telecast to interspersing cricket between unending intrusive advertising rather than the other way round, I’ve come to dislike brands who intruded into my viewing pleasure so blatantly and put me off all things cricket in print and on TV.
I steer clear of the clutter now, and am apprehensive of switching on the TV for fear of running into yet another segment of Dev’s Devils from 1983. I’d want India to win this year’s World Cup if for nothing than at least so we’d spared of the aging narrative of the 1983 team repeated ad nauseam each time the World Cup swings into view. I’d rather have Dhoni’s Dhulaiwaley given the bar stools four years hence, not that they’d offer any more insight and drama on the studio camera, but at least the faces would be different.
I think it’s a good enough reason for me to cheer the Indian team on. And this coming from someone who, barely out of primary school, sat through the grainy broadcast of the 1983 final on EC TV where the players were indistinguishable from the Lord’s grass, cheering them on on the strength of radio commentary since the fierce hiss on the only TV in the neighbourhood had all but turned the commentary on TV barely audible.
Fortunately, the streets are relatively free of cricket advertising heading into the World Cup unless you’d consider the India Today cover plastered on a Telephone Box at the corner of Nanabhai Lane in Fort a part of it.
Even so I’m delighting in the snatches I overhear on my way about the city. And none more so than the exchange between two youths I overheard recently on my way up the crowded stairs at a suburban railway station.
In rush hour local train traffic I negotiate the stairs connecting the over-bridge servicing railway platforms more from instinct than anything else. The steps are barely visible among assorted feet jamming the stairways.
On reaching out to steady his friend who stumbled on a step behind me, nearly falling in the crush of bodies, the smiling saviour could not resist quipping in jest:
Rough Wicket Hai,
Simple Delivery Bhi,
And the magic was back on. Show me the remote.