Negotiating `The English Channel'

Now who shall deny that Ravi Shastri did a super STAR job as Wilko's BEST OF THE DAY nighter?

BHARATAN

How spot on was Dilip Vengsarkar? In observing that only following his misty marriage to the willowy Manali did he feel emboldened enough to play all the shots in his international ouevre? In a like vein did Rahul, overnight, appear to have set new Vijetargets for himself. In going gunning for the Kiwilting Chris Brigade. In The Colonel's heyday, the standoffish DD camera once turned the spotlight tellingly upon Manali Vengy and Neena Gupta. Seated Wankhede side by side. How the ultra comely Manali took our Neena Saans away! In that spot DD shot. So would the winsome Vijeta be worth a second telly look now. Dimples and all. If only Rahul would play ball! The way Rahul let BRITANNIA relent, at last, that Saturday Night Without End.

N. SRIDHARAN

Now that Rahul's begun to look the GTXllent shot smasher in real ODI life too, his STAR rating goes up fiftyfold. In the Peeping Tom eyes of the VB Series shutterbugs. How then does Rahul expect to hold the anti-Miya Biwi Raazi paparazzi at Vijeta bay? Why this Bride and Prejudice approach in letting Vijeta be a grandstand witness to her own hub (of our batting) becoming a strike force known for half a century? Looking to the thud with which "Who" Raveena's landed on the Thadani threshold. Here Ravs' celeb hitch to the Anil Thadani wagon has all the trappings of a "designer" wedding. Only those who have followed Raveena's not so Mast mast career from the Akshay jilted outset could really envision the guts with which this woman of parts coped with heartbreak after heartbreak.

Ravs thus deserves all the happiness now coming to her. Trust Ravi and Ritu to ensure Ravs does not go out of the cricket limelight altogether. This is one remarkable trait of Ravi Shastri, his laidback ability to remain friends with All Fair Fare. A spark of a sport, Our Guy Ravi. How indelibly did I label him as Cricket Ka Asli Badshah. Yet Ravi, all savoir faire, came through as having thoroughly enjoyed it all. As The Card, Ravi looked to have different slips of pasteboard for different people. "To Raju I must hand over a special card," said Ravi. Proceeding to bestow me with a green visiting card.

The green signal, clearly, to continue to aim those dainty darts at him in the very vein I had been doing. Indeed each such salvo fired only seemed to have made Ravi mentally even more resilient. Now who shall deny that Ravi did a super STAR job as Wilko's BEST OF THE DAY nighter? Taking the enforced absence of Boycs in his disarmingly insightful stride. Now Down Under is where Ravi needs to produce something even more extra. On the Channel 9 telescene. Where Ravi is yet again going to be EspnStar tested.

While on EspnStar, a viewer grouch. As the TVS Triangular drew to a close, how offputting (not only in Mumbai?) to discover EspnStar going off screen all over again! Will EspnStar please, please learn to be on the same cable operating wavelength as viewers.

At least on the eve of such a crucial Test series as the one in Australia. Did EspnStar not mid-November owe it (to us viewers) not to shut up shop so cavalierly? Just when we in Mumbai wanted all of Espn-Star's BEST OF THE DAY expertise going. On the Indian team so ham-handedly midnight finalised for Sourav's acid Test series.

EspnStar seems to have developed a genius for the timing of its act in rubbing viewers the wrong way. To this day do we deplore Espn-Star's decision to turn English Sportsline into Hindi Sportsline. A Hindi Sportsline where Darain Shaidi blithely pronounces Stephen as Stefen, not Steven (in referring to Fleming). Was there then any call at all to deprive us of Jason Dasey's charismatic vocal presence on Sportsline? Any call at all to switch Jason to SportCenter and get him to do a status diminishing Double Take there? When Jasey was STAR's single anchor without peer? EspnStar here merely robbed Jason Dasey of his punchy individuality.

For Jasey's resonances were his own on Sportsline. With SportCenter you never can tell if Jasey would be on, definitively, at 8 in the evening. All too often, there is some phoren action supervening. Shame on you, EspnStar! That, after having got Jasey to branch out, you chose to paint him into a SportCenter corner. At a point when (as the Anchor's Anchor) only on Our Own Sportsline could Jasey sound Hindi-freewheeling enough to burst into Sujatha, Sujatha, pyaar kisise, ho hi gaya hai, hum kya karen!

Now that we are already EspnStar Down Under, another connected query? Was there a similar not so subtle EspnStar attempt to downplay Harsharp through October-November? If there was, Tour Australia is the hour to give Harsha his mike-head afresh. Jason Dasey too should be worth viewing, here, as the poker-faced role model. In the sense that Jasey is cent per cent Aussie. But has now to sound Hindustani. As never before. There is so much cricket for India to play in ESPN oriented Australia that Jasey could be made to have a crucial link to enact here. As the Indian end tying up with Harsha and Wilko. While Sunny, Ravi, Wasimian, Ian and Geoffrey have, each, their own niche.

EspnStar, a shapely little bird tells me, aims to bring to Tour Australia a flavour to savour. A flavour that could make this cricket mature channel the hot BCCI favourite. To take over from the spots-damned DD Sports at home. The DD style of "Final" frontier we but recently experienced in Kolkata. Yet the real "final frontier" is 10 months from now.

In the very India where Stevendetta "came to Chennai nought." During that Sourav & Co March of 2001.