Its cricket season again. This time its the Indian Premier League (IPL). But why am I not excited anymore? Why is cricket, to me at least, just another game these days?
Part of the blame goes to the herculean schedule of cricket. Every year we have more than a hundred one day matches, and even more T20 ones. Even test cricket, which is supposedly dying, isnt really that scarce in a calendar year. Overexposure of the game such as these, has always been blamed for the drop in popularity of the game.
However I think there's something else which is responsible for, what I'd call, loss of the charm of the gentleman's game. Its commentary.
Commentary is an integral part of the viewing experience. A good commentator can make a perfectly boring match tolerable. (Although the reverse is necessarily not true, as you now have the power to simply press the mute button on the remote.) Remember those days when people switched on their tele sets in the middle of the night to catch India's West Indies or Australian or South African tours? I distinctly remember those nights. I used to set my alarm at 4-4:30 in the morning to the extreme agony of mum and dad. The moment the alarm clock (yea, back in those days I didnt have a mobile phone of my own) sounded the arrival of the hour, I was awake, and with a steaming hot cup of coffee in my hand I used to tune in to ESPN/Star Sports. The oh so awesome voices of Harsha Bhogle, Sunny Gavaskar, Richie Benaud, Ian Bishop, Michael Holding and last but not the least Geoffrey Boycott boomed from the television set. It didnt matter which team was batting or fielding, it didnt matter what ground it was, hell it didnt even matter what form of the game it was! Those voices made cricket seem well and truly the gentleman's game.
Sigh! Gone are those days. I saw Harsha Bhogle on a programme on CNN IBN today, and frankly, when I heard him speak, all these memories started pouring in. I never realised how much I had missed that voice until I heard him speak.
I wish I could go back in time to that wonderful era. But again, maybe thats why memory is such a sweet thing.