STAR's Little Master stroke

Sunil Gavaskar... back at his critical-analytical best. — Pic. RAMESH SHARMA-

WHAT quality coverage by TEN Sports of our hockey youth coming of age!

WHAT quality coverage by TEN Sports of our hockey youth coming of age! Got what I meant when I savaged DD as messing up our East Bengal football advance on Jakarta? How fulfilling it was to STAR view Sunil Gavaskar as a Trent Bridge player! A dial-polished Sunny back at his critical-analytical best — to Trent Bridge the gap between South Africa's bat and England's pad. How all South Africa was hooked on each point Sunil here made. Lately Sunil appeared to be first-slipping. Catchy hold of himself did Sunny take as STAR came up with the Little Master stroke of pitchforking him into the Bok-Pom Notts confrontation. Sunil turned up trumps here. His cards happily no longer held too close to his macho chest — Ma Rithambara be blessed!

So deftly "on the dot ball" was Sunil that Pat Symcox ventured to try none of his tricks. Indeed Pat Sym was witnessed to be as deferential as you could possibly expect a man of his racial arrogance to be. The levels of penetrating observation to which Sunny raised the debate cut the off-spinning earth from under the feet of Cox in the box. Mind you, Sym was not without his own insights into the game. But Sunny proved more than a telematch for Sym. So much so that, by the 4th day of the TB Test, Sunil had Wilko cheering-gearing up to the task. A Wilko who's subtly learnt the art of keeping Pat at left-arm's length. After the way the clever-clever Symcox took this spot STAR anchor for a weather coaster ride during the World Cup.

Refreshingly did STAR, earlier, ask Jason Dasey to go NatWest. On the button was this versatile presenter down in England. Just one point, Jasey. On Sportsline, never again style the Irani Cup as the Irani Trophy. You did swiftly correct it to Irani Cup in your roundup. Yet for so long has our Irani Cup been full that (as the Aussie in an Indian auto) Jasey must begin to acquire a taste for the stuff. If any confusion still persists in Jasey's mindset, he's welcome to take the matter to "Tulsi" Irani at Star Plus. Where else but in "KSBKBT India" Jasey, would Tulsi be a Smriti part of our Irani cup of serial tea?

Actually the lean cricket season gave us the tube opportunity to tune in to other half-hour sports bulletins. Not one peach here is a patch on Jasey! As a cricket centric programme, Sportsline is the scale of draw proclaiming it to be a winner all the way. East Bengal could not make us forget cricket as a Western game. Our hockey lads (learning to make their mark through direct goals) came through as a TEN Sports sight for "score" eyes. But hockey & football, could they ever displace cricket as a Preity market force? That is the million dollar TV quiz. Where else but in All Glamour Cricket could Shilpa Shetty be "all thighs" to all people? Show me one cricket buff who didn't empathise with Telestar Shilpa after reading her recent Cover Girl expose in Filmfare? How "show" business exacts its pound sterling of flesh from "It Girl" Silk Smitha as from Shetty Shilpa? The cheering tidings for Shilps is that Her Man Geoffrey is due back behind the mike.

But will STAR be spot on in presenting Sunny & Boycs as Idiot Box Office during our Sou Gang Leader's ambitious attempt at a raid of Australia? Remember, the now brickbatting Sunny never did rank too high with Channel 9. The rating is even lower now, following the Gavaskar face-off with a Dennis Lillee still appealing for lbw only against Sunny, not Vishy. As for Boycs, the cannibalistic Tony Greig has always cut him to size. It should be interesting to watch how STAR reconciles the Sunny-Geoffrey contradiction with Channel 9 interaction. Minus Sunny & Geoffrey, espnstar would be shedding sheen.

But, before we go Down Under, there is NZ and the gauntlet of DD to run. I sincerely hope I've heard wrong. But a sexy little "bird" whispers into my ears that — for the two Tests vs NZ and the triangular contest to follow (India, Australia & New Zealand) — DD is planning a facelift. A facelift by which the DD argument runs: "If Charu's there, could Mandi be far behind?" Yes, be mentally prepared for this damp squib DD notion of a sex-bomb explosion. Always imitative, DD can't see beyond its Charu nose. So Mandira could be its counterpoint now.

That means Krish Srikkanth could yet again be leading the Hindi-English commentary assault on ours senses. Chika we know as one always going for the Fair & Lovely. We could no more wish away Chika's telly popularity than we could sidestep Sherry. But Mandi back with no Mark Nicholas to demonstrate to her how to grip the new ball? Oh yes, in her Mid Day column, Mandira has reacted to being accused (on this page) of not having acquired sufficient cricket ammunition — after a 42-day showcase of the World Cup magnitude. Mandira's riposte has been to get hold of some casual cricket stats and somehow interpolate such "figures" of cricket into her column.

The effect is plain ludicrous. The fact is Mandi has made only one original point in her column so far. This is to wonder how someone so Udayan humane as Steve Waugh could possibly countenance something so sub-human as sledging. For the Rest of India, Mandi is still on Irani Cup trial. Now DD, 5-Ball DD, should show up Mandi for what precisely she is. Maybe they watch Mandira for her attire aura rather than for her crick charisma. Hence the wide eyed Mandira now on DD — and WISDEN 20:20 to cricket boot! Get set then to view Sanjay as now a Wisden basher, now a Mandi baiter.