As another cricket tour plays out in India, a few words on why it’s the worst place to watch the sport in the Commonwealth.
Fast bowlers: Actually, no fast bowlers. The quick delivery is the one offensive weapon of the bowling side. The only menace our bowlers offer is tedium. At least Pakistan has proper fast bowlers. India has none and has never had one. Pataudi speculated that this was because the Punjabi was taller. Whatever the reason, the result is dull cricket. The Indians have now stopped even pretending that fast bowling is necessary. India’s new ball attack in the first test featured spinner Ashwin in the first innings, and spinner Ojha in the second.
Wickets: Slow and low is a description of our pitches. It also describes Indian cricket’s visual appeal. There is no carry, the word commentators use to describe bounce, which makes cricket so pleasant to watch in Australia and South Africa. The softness of the pitch also affects the sound. Cricket abroad is better to watch on television because of the crispness of sound when the ball bites into the pitch. Here it is a dull thud.
Chuckers: This should be blamed on the subcontinent, rather than on India alone. Every South Asian nation has contributed to the proliferation of bent-elbow bowlers who should be called for throwing but have been allowed to continue. There’s no end to this and it has become legitimate now.
Heat and dust: Cricket looks bad on Indian television. One reason is lack of carry. Another is the lack of sharpness in the picture. Nature and our environment conspire to produce the brownish images that we are familiar with. Those who used to wake at 5 am to watch test cricket in Sydney and Perth may not have done so for Calcutta and Delhi.
Effortlessness: By which is meant lack of effort. To watch great fielding, an essential part of cricket that India has zero interest in, we must observe South Africans and Australians. No Indian cricketer looks atheletic, an astonishing thing to say given how much money they make from their bodies.
Commentary: The pedestrian offering of Harsha Bhogle and Sunil Gavaskar, the cliches of Ravi Shastri, could turn even the most exciting sport into tat and piffle. Here it becomes a force multiplier. Boring cricket, boring commentary. The broadcasters have showed mercy in recent decades by bringing in foreigners of quality like Ian Chappell, but our own we must still suffer.
Spectators: The banners in our stadium are embarrassing. Then there is the unceasing, unpunctuated scream of the crowd that makes applause meaningless. The consensual, silent sulk when the other team scores a boundary is the other side to this. Our spectators must be fenced in like inmates (because for some reason Indians like to throw stuff at people, including cheerleaders, who have wire cages around them). This doesn’t particularly bother those who notice. Our team, losers on sporting wickets, kings of their own domain, will again win in this series and the nation will be so proud of itself.