Telly `Sledge As Sledge Can'

YOU no more expect the Ugly Aussie to be apologetic about sledging than you expect Preity Zinta to stop talking and start acting!


YOU no more expect the Ugly Aussie to be apologetic about sledging than you expect Preity Zinta to stop talking and start acting! `Sledge As Sledge Can' is the Aussie dictum. First sledge the opponent no end, then sledgehammer him into submission! Why then this `halla-bol' hullabaloo about Old Sledging Hand Glenn McGrath `laying a finger on' fresher Ramnaresh Sarwan? Because the happening came in handy for the Aussie Establishment to fire its first shot in venturing to retire Steve Waugh the exact way it packed off Allan Border? Like Allan Border then, Steve Waugh now has clearly served his 3-0 Aussie Establishment purpose. Where Allan Border was seen as leading the sledging — on which the ICC then wanted an urgent clamp — Steve Waugh now is viewed as being too big for his cricket boots. They urgently want him to go, so that they have, in Ricky Ponting, a younger cap they can `handle'.

Steve Waugh... does the Aussie Establishment want him out somehow? — Pic. REUTERS-

Glenn McGrath is but the `finger-tip' of the Steve Waugh iceberg. Don't you for a moment believe that the Aussies are having second thoughts on the time-honoured art of sledging. The ODI series in the Caribbean merely saw the Aussies staging a `strategic retreat' — under Mavericky Ponting. The way the Kangaroos took a 2-0 lead in this ODI series, they could afford to keep their Cable & Wireless powder dry. For sledging, otherwise, is a way of Aussie life. You could no more accuse the Aussies of `being done with sledging' than you could accuse Sourav of trying to be civil to Steve.

Why the Aussie Authority should now want Steve not to lead the gamesmanly way in our four Tests due by the year-end, Down Under, is a mystery. For the telly world is unanimously agreed that Sourav and Steve are street-corner made for each other. Seeing how both fire from the lip. Also remember that those four Tests and the prestige VB Series to follow, in Australia, are going to come over as espnstar's grudge telly show — after the Sony World Cup. In one shot (and spot after spot), espnstar here is game planning to show itself Harsharp-witted enough to cut the cricketing ground from under the feet of TEN, Sony, DD, et al. Our passionate plea to espnstar: "Give us back our Ian Chappell here and now!" Along with Boycs. Indeed, the Shetty Girl — now that her `Shilpair of Legs' has drawn a Yuvy blank — can't wait for her good old Boycs friend to be back. Shilps — just the Boycs `limb-loosener' the doctor ordered!

In Johannesburg — after India lost to Australia there — at the mega IIFA awards show, they asked Shilpa Shetty to go on stage as a vamp. Only to heroine-expect Shilpa to `do a Madhubala' in the Venus avatar of Aayeeye meherbaan baitheeye jaan-e-jaan. All this while Shilpa (with her family) got a bad press while away in Jo'burg. So a good press is what Shilps now logically expects at the net practised hands of Sugardaddy Geoffrey. Alongside Shilpa, how Ajay Jadeja (on the same IIFA platform) held us spellbound via that bhangra he enacted with such flair! As the Jadejack of All Trades, Ajay, it is perhaps best now for you to `Khel' reason that you missed your vocation when you came to cricket. You fit, bug-rug snug, in the show world. Where they have always gone by the maxim that there is as good mermaid in the sea as ever came out of it.

Viewing the 2003 IIFA awards show in Jo'burg, what struck you was the imaginative use to which Sony still is putting Mandira. As a presenter whose charms extend beyond the World Cup. Why then did Mandira opt to stage the beaten-track comeback she did in Kyunki Saas Bhii Kabhii Bahu Thii — as the Mother of TVixens? Mandira almost loses `little screen' caste here — as the World Cup visual illusion is all but shattered. Mandira's career interests surely would have been better served if she had preserved her SonyMax image of the `Go-Go Girl With The Come-Hither Eyes'? The IIFA Jo'burg bash also left viewers confounded about where flim-flam begins and pajama cricket ends. For seated plushly there, still regretting his 36 not out, was Sunny. A Sunny third eyeing anything but his 10,122 Indian Test record. Side by side you espied the Bijli-heeled Azhar with the model wife. Having already read something about the wrong `beeps' that this close-up couple sent out while going Jo'burg shopping.

As you took in all this came Ajay Jadeja's Jo'burg bhangra designed to put Navjot on his mikogenic toes. If Ajay flaunts a Haryana connection, Navjot is from the Punjab proper — Te ki main jhoot boliyaa. So now, while going in for a serial killer break, Navjot should be saying: Jayeeyenga naheen, chaand abhee dhala naheen! You have to hand it to the Sardar of the ilk where it comes to grabbing an opening on TV. Look at the cozy way Mandira's Sony cushioned herself here. By contrast, where in hell's name is Meera Vasudevan, who otherwise set the World Cup tone, following the sexpot impact she made with her Sony mantra of Om Cricketaya Namah! Why, even Amartya Sen's daughter is now going tele places. Nandana Sen it is you `spot' as the `City Bajao' Girl. All this while Meera ("Om Cricketaya Namah!") Vasudevan has been viewed to be as tardy in seizing her `spot' ad chance as Tamil Nadu in seizing the Ranji Trophy. Clearly girls from the South are still slow to telly `sledge'. As girls from the Rest of India so telly sledge out the Vasudevans of the World Cup as to make even "Om Cricketaya Namah!" sound a Meera bhajan!