Friday, May 2, 2008

A Viewer's Woes

It’s a real pity when the quality of the TV coverage fails to match up with the quality of the sport on the field. But this is exactly what has happened over the past few weeks as far as the IPL and the UEFA Champions League and Cup is concerned. Set Max’s coverage of the Indian Premier League has been appalling to say the very least. The pre-match show ‘Extra Innings’ is an insult to the game of cricket, as an anchor not knowing the difference between leg and off spin endeavours to put forward intelligent questions to pundits such as Katrina Kaif and Akshay Kumar. For instance, during the interval of the match between Delhi and Bangalore, the presenter asked Ms. Kaif her opinion on how the Royal Challengers must go about chasing their target. I am not trying to say that they must do away with the glamour quotient, after all Katrina is a very pretty lady and all of India would love to see her on screen. But surely she can be kept away from a cricket show, cant she?

Besides the third grade pre-match show, the quality of the commentary has also at times been downright dreadful. The other day I had to go through the trauma of hearing Ranjit Fernando describe a 146 kilometer per hour ball from Dale Steyn as a slower delivery. Add to this Arun Lal’s insightful pitch reports, Ramiz Raja’s astute understanding of the LBW law and Aamir Sohail’s perceptive views on the game and we have a wonderfully talented commentary team.

After having my cricket spoilt by the terrible coverage on Set Max I had to go through the ordeal of watching the European football games on Ten Sports. I don’t bother seeing the pre-match show knowing fully well the extent of rubbish produced by the so-called experts in the studio. But listening to the commentary during the game is something that cannot be avoided. Commentary for Wednesday night games is provided by the Sky Sports team normally consisting of Andy Gray and one of Martin Tyler, Rob Hawthorne or Alan Parry which acts as more than a saving grace. Ten Sports’ in house star commentator Richard Drew is summoned for games played on days other than Wednesday which are telecast on the channel. Yesterday in the game between Zenit St Petersburg and Bayern Munich, Mr. Drew was at his tedious best. He made an interesting football game sound like a telecast of a celebrity funeral. Apart from his mind numbingly boring commentary, he managed to constantly interchange the names of Philip Lahm and Marcell Jansen who were playing at right full back and left full back respectively in the first half. Mistaking the gangly Jansen for the diminutive Lahm is like mistaking a Hummer for a Porsche. In spite of the camera focusing on the back of their shirts time and again, it was not until the beginning of the second half when Jansen was replaced by Christian Lell did Richard Drew grasp that he had got the players’ names wrong.

I for one cannot wait for the day when the telecast rights for European football matches and for cricket matches played in India are once again granted to ESPN Star. But in this day and age where money seems to be the only criterion in determining who wins the telecast rights, the possibility of such an occurrence seems highly improbable.

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