Greats on the small screen

THE sheer transparency with which Sir Garfield Sobers came across via Harsha was a vivid reminder of the captive viewing this super idol made in that BBC TV programme where he found himself face to face with his grandmother after a lapse of many years. From Sunil Gavaskar to Lata Mangeshkar to Vijay Merchant I have discovered that humility as a mask the truly great never do need to wear. That we inevitably remembered how serious Sobers actually was about Anju Mahendru - as Sir Gary mentioned his "many friends in India" - is our own limited vision of the man. No less fulfilled felt TV buffs to view Sir Weekes 'in the Caribbean flesh', his image enduring as the 'Ever ton' scourge of Indian bowlers. The only visual glitch was to find Sir Clyde Walcott projected as 'Walcote'. STAR owes the cricketing world an apology for so 'spelling' out its iconic carelessness.

India coming unstuck on the opening day itself in the Barbados Test was a rueful rewind to that most succinct of TV quotes from the measured lips of Deryck Murray. As a prelude to the fateful final morning of the Port of Spain Test - with the score 131 for 2 (Lara 40, Hooper 1) - observed Deryck: "The heart says West Indies but the head says India!" A head for dealing with the fast rising ball India was viewed woefully to lack during the first misty morn of the Bridgetown Test. Deservedly therefore did we witness the West Indies end up squaring the circle 1-1. One Britannia ran out another Britannia (17) as India's vice-cap failed to see third eye to eye with his 'cap'. To captain Sourav's eternal credit, Britannia yet again exemplarily ruled the surging waves in its second Barbados stab at the bouncing Carib battery.

A hazaar pities Sachin (8) was halted in his Bridgetown stride while venturing to live up to the expectations Sir Gary had raised about Ten with his Sunny-shared batting estimate of 'BRADMANEXT'. Not for the first time did Asoka de Silva ruin a Test match as a prospective spectacle by umpiring the non-elitist lbw way he did in the Test-case of Sachin. Holding a brief for Sachin came up even Mikey here. Match referee Ranjan Madugalle should be looking into the cussed telemindset by which Asoka de Silva and Daryl Harper (in 'equalising' earlier mistakes) decided not to give a single lbw, caught-behind or bat-pad against the West Indies on the determinant final day of the Port of Spain Test. Consequentially ensuring India winning through by just 37 runs. In the third Test, of course, India had it Navjot-coming from distant Singapore the moment our batting folded up like a Goody Seervai accordion (for 102).

This needle Test of the five-match series demonstrated how narrow had been our conspectus in zeroing in on Sachin and Lara as 'India vs West Indies'. All that 233 Guyana hoop-la about Hoop should have given us a more objective insight into the winsome way 'Carl of The Shoe Button Eyes' came on to sculpt 115 (235 balls, 18 fours) in compiling the Barbadossier on India's 10-wicket Waterloo. This Carl ambiently did leaving viewers free to warm to certain Bridgetown skirts swaying as tantalisingly as those Barbados palms. No beauty like coloured beauty to offteleset a beast of a ball unleashed by Big Merv. Sitting pretty on TV was Merv's wife to monitor her hub as restricting his glare to the men in the middle.

Oh yes, the roving eye of the TWI camera focused seductively enough on the female form for the fantasising watcher to wonder about getting down to bra's tacks. There is a chic new look to Ruby Bhatia too as the one who gave us a gem of a commentating man in Ravi. Via Channel V was Ruby 'dated' by Ravi during the March 1995 World Masters at Bombay's Brabourne Stadium. 'Behind the Scenes', how Ruby brings ShAha Rukh to us, Pepsip by Pepsip, in a spot contrasting tellingly with the ghastly World Cup ad this Khan earlier put out with Ten. Side by side Sach's spot with the Big B came over far sprightlier than did Ten himself with 0 & 8 in the Bridgetown Test. Never forget, Tendul, that Sehwag is watching as 'no batsman of straw' - 'Sunilife ho to aisi!' Even the wag in Sehwag could not have envisioned Coca-Colanding with Sunil in such a play-it-cool style.

If Sunil is all fizz here, all substance is he on our Windies '71-76 mindscape - going on to overtake Sir Gary's 26 Test hundreds in the Guyana Test on the tempestuous Tuesday of April 5, 1983, with 147 not out (17 fours, 1 six). Where Sunny thus remains a Windies legend, reality bites Sachin in a Barbados Test of character in which the viewer is the ultimate umpire. Ruthlessly judgmental is TV in hindsight. The third umpire in the West Indies might have become a sitting joke by now. Yet the way the Sachin scorecard finally unfolds is what counts at the end of the D-Day. Sourav (3 fours, 1 six in his 48 off 76 balls - then 7 fours in his willow-in-hand 60 off 146 balls) showed temperament at last in emerging as India's gallant Bridgetown rearguardian. By contrast, at that nitpicking point in the series, Sachin's battle looked to be first with himself, only then with Lara.