Image and damage

Sachin Tendulkar is all smiles after receiving the Man of the Match award for his 152 runs against Namibia in Pietermaritzburg. — Pic. AP-

AS India crushed Namibia by 181 runs, that nascent nation's skipper graciously acknowledged what a privilege it had been for their cricket to absorb, in such close-up action, the art and craft of Sachin (152 off 151 balls: 18 fours) and Sourav (112 off 119 balls: 6 fours, 4 sixes).

AS India crushed Namibia by 181 runs, that nascent nation's skipper graciously acknowledged what a privilege it had been for their cricket to absorb, in such close-up action, the art and craft of Sachin (152 off 151 balls: 18 fours) and Sourav (112 off 119 balls: 6 fours, 4 sixes). Four points are four points, so that the moment of Namibian conquest lent a cutie slant to the moues and mannerisms of a Mandira at last `coming of anchoring youth.' In focus was Mandira's Ruby dethroning gift of looking pre-eminently `Indian' even while shrugging shapely shoulders in a saree `revealing' her to be a 'Dil-vil pyaar-vyaar' Saira Banu 'Shagird'! After a fortnight of World Cup action, with her visage still an `eye' opener, Mandira showed happy signs of having settled down. The one hazard now is that `Man' gets to be jaunty and drops a cricketing clanger afresh. For all that Mandirazzmatazz, this young lady should steer clear of a Springbok so illustrious as Barry Richards. Even the otherwise sound Siva should not have been joining contentious issue with such an all-time great. By dismissively noting: "I don't agree with you, Barry'' There are ways and ways of countering an icon of this dimension. What Siva should remember is that this is the White Richards world ranking no way behind the Super Black Viv. A full 325 of Barry Richards' 356 (for South Australia vs Western Australia in the 1970-71 season) came in just one day (of no more than 330 minutes) on the fastest track Down Under - Perth. Nine times did Barry Richards smash a century before lunch. As the paragon of openers, an object lesson to Gordon Greenidge (at Hampshire) on how effortlessly to lift sixes by the dozen through a single knock. Contemporaneously, Barry would have carted Siva all `over' Chepauk. Pray, what did Barry dare tell Siva? That Sourav should not have gone in with a seventh batsman against Namibia. This very point Geoffrey made soon after, tellingly, on STAR, where Harsha broke Namibia toss-winning news well ahead of Sony. The mindless Sony channel, meanwhile, has this side effect of getting tuppenny-hapenny Asian commentators to overreach themselves. If Venky needed to look at his notes after being a full 15 days into the World Cup, just envision what a square peg in a round-stump-hole Prasad looks. There are times when SonyMax descends to burlesque. Like when Kris Srikkanth, while indulging in Rameez back-slapping, let Raja get away from logically explaining why his Pakistan had crashed to 134 (in 31 overs) against England (246 for 8 from 50 overs). The `Chika' charade this time included `Ayyangarubbishing' the Hindi language in an idiom even Sri had not perpetrated before. Chika's Hindi Butchering here (in front of England's Butcher) lasted a full three minutes. It is such Sony trivialising that habitually has us switching to STAR to wonder if this rival channel does not have a point when (with sketches of its leading lights) it puts up a marquee parodying the 'Deewana bana de' Max as: 'Yeh hosh uda de deewanon ka!' That cheetah the Bhogle lad brought into STAR's Cape Town studio - to scare the wits out of a swiftly retreating Navjot stunned into eloquent silence for once - is by now part of TV lore. Kudos to `Harshararat' for sitting tight and proving that Bhogle no more changes his shots than the cheetah its spots. By the same tube token, we Indians were not for a moment Sony amused as Tony Greig, with typical levity, came up with an outrageous comment as the Indian team went into a Harare huddle. Enquired Tony: "Have they gone into a huddle or a cuddle'' Tony's `huddling' observation came through as being no less tasteless than that armpits `spot.' The spot mixing up 'The Wax Effect' with 'The AXE Effect' via that Woman of the 'Match' - struck in a style coarse as coarse could be.The `Pepsine qua non' of advertising, by healthy contrast, is that spot in which Harbhajan is Androcles - as directed by Rahul and Sourav to retrieve the six-hit ball with Leo for his zodiac sign. From Bajji to `Paaji' - no less impish does Sachin look in 'plane' quest of that Pepsi can. The Pepsignatory to MRF class that Sachin showed himself to be with 52, 36, 81 & 152 - hopefully Ten sustained this Brian Lara vein struck in the Veldt. Of the `Brian Lara Dutta' syndrome, incidentally, was the Sunday, Feb 23 Charu-signalled CEAT Ratings Sony show a reminder. As we saw (after ages) the `Born Tough' beauty roped in and then consigned to an obscure corner via that vintage spot. I have but one query here. On the one hand we expose our top cricketers (quite a few of them looking launderers in borrowed suits) to this `soft' style of sham-glam show where the accent is on a skin industry priding itself on its `upholstery.' On the other, we expect them to be hard as nails in the cricket field. Somewhere something is radically amiss, isn't it? Cricket ratings they may be. But cricket it isn't. No matter how hugely `Haryanvirender' Sehwag enjoyed it in Arcadian `Kapil Dil Se' company. No wonder the award-decorated Sachin stayed away. That Shilpa shape Shetty take-off on Sachin is just not what you do, on mock stage, to one deadly serious about his cricket centrepitch. What a comedown from Sachin Shankar's cricket ballet!