Tuesday, March 14, 2006

On Cricket Pundits!

I sit on my bean bag in front of the idiot box and look at “experts” analyse cricket. I listen to the drivel dished out by the ex-cricketers and say, “blessed be thy soul of the wise man who gave J L Baird’s invention the name - idiot box.” I happened to read Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai’s blog on his very interactive website and a few lines stuck out like a sore thumb. He said “At one level, the cricket punditry is valuable. Would you rather listen to someone whose played 50 tests or someone who has never scored a run or taken a wicket in his life?” and I could not help but feel let down that a comment like that should come from one of my favourite journalists. Please let explain to you why did it hurt so bad.

I, the average cricket follower, do need expert opinion on cricket matches and cricket, in general. But anybody who has played 50 international matches does not qualify as an expert on the sport. I would listen to someone who has not played a single match, if s/he speaks sense. I cannot get myself to believe that journalists like Sonali Chander and Rajdeep Sardesai aren’t experts but people like Aaqib Javed and Madan Lal are. That Salman Butt is pushing at deliveries outside the off stump and that Sehwag lacks footwork isn’t something an expert needs to tell me. Anybody who’s watched this beautiful game would know. And what is nowadays is passed off as analysis needs to be re-looked at. Painting a Shahenshah, analysing post match conferences or what a coach said, sic ad nauseum, is not what one calls analysis. And all that load of rubbish is dished out by ex-cricketers. To top it all there’s a world cup winning hero, who aspired to be the Indian coach, who starts singing the moment he is on TV. For heavens’ sake, please get them off the tube. Its no better in print. Moin Khan got a slap on his face when he wrote so insightfully about Sachin being a spent force, and was proven wrong. That shows how well our experts can analyse. And believe me, all hell breaks loose when somebody pits two ex-cricketers against each other for analysing a game. It seems less like analysis and more like a confederation of warring tribes.

I would, and I am sure that the majority of cricket lovers would, love to see people like Harsha Bhogle, Sharda Ugra, Ram Guha, Vijay Lokpally, R. Mohan, Sanjay Jha, Ayaz Memon etc. analyse for us. None of them have taken a wicket or scored an international run but they understand the sport better and analyse it wonderfully. If anybody were to ask - “how can they criticise Sachin for playing a bad shot? Has that person played a single international match?” – I believe that person should be asked to shut up. Going by that yardstick, if one happens to go to a restaurant and finds that the gravy tastes like grease and complains to the manager and if he or she were to be told “how many cook books have you written? Only a Tarla Dala or a Sanjeev Kapoor or a Jiggs Kalra have a right to criticise”. How would you feel? I don’t need to be a cook to give my views on food. Rajdeep Sardesai and Prannoy Roy have not been in any economic review committees but are they questioned when they analyse the budget? They haven’t stood for elections but does anybody question them when they give reasons as to why Nitish won and Lalu lost? The same should apply for cricket. I am not saying that all ex-cricketers are bad. Nobody can analyse the game as well as Richie Benaud, Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri or Geoff Boycott can. But to think that all ex-cricketers would be able to reach that level, is being foolish.

Nobody seems to have a problem with a bunch of buffoons selecting the cricket team as selectors. How many have played international cricket? This is just analysis that is happening on our TV sets, why can’t we have some real experts, who’ve dedicated their lives bringing cricket to us – thru their pen or thru the camera? That is why I feel let down when I surf news channels and am forced to choose between the awful and the rubbish ad infinitum. People like Prannoy Roy, Rajdeep Sardesai, Karan thapar, Barkha Dutt etc have really raised the bar as far as reporting news and current affiars goes because they didn’t get into the trap of letting the so called “experts” analyse it. Please use the same yardsticks as far as this analysing this beautiful game goes. Please choose real experts and ex-cricketres extremely carefully. Or else the die is cast as far as cricket analysis goes. Alea jacta est!!!

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