Oct 2, 2002

The recent ICC Champions Trophy was a trailer in more ways than one, cricketing-wise and otherwise. In my opinion, it didn't help one bit in identifying potential World Cup winners, as the conditions were exactly the opposite to those in Zuid Afrika. There was probably a bit of careful mucking around with the umpiring and a chance for the ICC members to indulge in some quiet (and routine) backroom shenanigans.
But that ain't the subject of this post. The telecast of the Trophy gave us an idea as to potentially how bad the World Cup cricket presentation is going to be on the Sony Channels, the people who've bought the rights to the show. Quite clearly, their idea of a presentation is derivative from their primary business: that of soaps & films. Whoever had the incredible brainwave of hiring Ruby Bhatia (a Canadian Indian, Canada being a country that supposedly played the first big cricket match in the 19th century versus the US, and has ever since followed its Southern neighbour in thankfully keeping its paws out of the good game) has presented a good argument in favour of retaining the death penalty. Add to this such attractions such as Fardeen Khan, Ma Prem Rithambara (Tarot Card reader who would make all sorts of predictions - wonder if she swept the Predikta contest that was running alongside on Max?). And when you consider that the "experts" consisted of Srikkanth, Farokh Engineer, Mahanama & Kapil (all decent cricketers, but not so hot at the mike & the headphones), your stomach did the rescuing act each time Extraaaa (painful) Innings came on. Only Barry Richards held on to his honour. Srikkanth got into Arjuna Ranatunga's hair a lot (and I'm sure Arjuna Ranatunga would've swatted Krish Srikkanth if Srikkanth had just been an annoying member of Sri Lankan Parliament.) Tony Greig probably watches a lot of Zee News, nothing else would explain his "we were the first to tell you this tiny piece of rubbish" quotes. Charu Sharma should be banished to covering Kabaddi for all his "aiding-and-abetting" acts.
So what's the film going to be like in six months time? One can only shudder in answer. Rumours abound that News Corp will try and squeeze Sony in the rights game. Sony has a great chance to see their golden goose lay an egg : a stone one. Any solutions? Monopolies for Espn-Star perhaps? The last World Cup telecast was quite brilliant. And there was no Sidhu too then (But I'll take him as the pinch of salt, rather than watch Ms. Bhatia look at head-to-head comparisons and ask what they were. Lay off!)

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