The 'ten' effect

HOW the STAR System TV-determining our viewing values today ensures our eyes being riveted on the small screen only if we have our own icons - ranging from Sachin (92 off 113 balls: 17 fours) to Rahul (115 off 244 balls: 16 fours) to Sourav (99 off 159 balls: 13 fours) delivering out there! How dismally defeatist was our outlook so long as 'npower' stood for Nasser Power in the shape of a 600-plus England total. But the moment we sensed that TVS was 'Victor' afresh, all India sat telestruck late into the night to view Sachin (56 not out) in his Sunday best (56 balls: 10 fours). Even wife Anjali had conceded she couldn't tell Sach (34) and Veeru (106) apart going by the 'helmettlesome' approach of the two looking as like as two peas. But the difference between the batting p's and q's of Sach and Veeru became manifest as Ten chose to cross Trent Bridge when we really came to it - 260 behind. At this U-turn point, Sachin began MRF-driving as track-blazingly as Steve Waugh. The Robin Hoodoo dogging the Elfin One became a memory as Ten's shots buzzed athwart the Sherwood Forest greensward.

This then is TV viewing in India! No matter how churchmouse poor our bowling, our batting billionaire has only to VISA Power India anew for watchers to get the feel of being on velvet! As Sachin so put India back on 'Nottingwham' course almost Pepsingle-handed, the "Sub se upar hum hain, hum se upar kaun hai?" Big B punchline acquired fresh meaning as the long and short of it. Alongside Anjali, Dona had twin reason to celebrate as Sourav (68 off 148 balls: 11 fours - then 99 off 159 balls: 13 fours) looked the telepicture of assurance in both essays. Keeping his shirt on while landing a total of 24 fours with his awesome left. Each a four redolent of the style Gang had brought to his 136 & 48 in the July 1996 Nottingham Test. The Gang-ho 68 & 99 now came at a pinpoint (India 108 for 3 & 174 for 3)) when Sou's series hopes looked like crashing 0-2 around his Maharaj ears. For yet another glitch it had been as neo-centurion Veeru, as an open-and-shut case, had demonstrated that he could either get going mind-blastingly (106, 183 balls, 18 fours) or mindlessly choose to 'duck' the acid-Test issue of being India's No 1.

For the rest, what could be a better debuting compliment to that cherub Parthiv (a memorably match-saving 19 off 60 balls) than to say that it was not just telly-crazy Gujarat opting to STAR view the Patel pet 'keep' and bat rather than to STAR watch the ethnic 'Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi' unfold at 10.30 p.m.? Yet there had been little whippersnapper Parthiv could do as the Indian bowling got carted up Trent and down Bridge. It had been the innings of a TV lifetime by Michael Vaughan as a cultured stroke-player. Indeed Michael Vaughan (197 off 258 balls: 23 fours), Alec Stewart (87 off 92 balls: 14 fours) and Craig White (not out 94 off 119 balls: 12 fours, 1 six) had shown our flag-waver watchers their TV place in the drawing room - after that illusory NatWesternised feeling of being on top of the Tensing world.

Dispirited TV votaries here momentarily perked up as they espied that 'ear-ringleader' of commentators, Henry Blofeld, back in avuncular view - courtesy Gautam Bhimani. Only to discover that O'Henry no longer had his ear to the cricket ground! The most dangerous stage in a commentator's career is when he 'comes of anecdotage'. Henry 'rings' dated rather than dating in this Ice Age when the image of Tara Sharma Lirilingers as the nymphet 'coming of cleavage'. Navjot for one appears to lose all sense of ratio and proportion in being bowled by a beauty.

If only Sidhu could cut the cackle! For amidst all that claptrap wooing of the loaves and fishes of idiot box-office, Navjot had some weighty cricketing observations to make. Like when he took on Ravi vis-a-vis Ajit (during that Lord's Test 109 not out) and illustrated how to Agarkar-free elbows in going for the big back-lift hit. Implied in this Sidhu tele-demo was the barb that the Sherry-baiting Ravi never could so Navjot-loosen arms even when striking 6 sixes off 6 balls. Remember it had been Sherry showing Sachin the soaring style in which to see Wallaroo Warne hoist with his own petard.

Ha, Sachin! In the fatal phase in which Ten (34) looked better at "selecting a bike" rather than "selecting a bat", Sunny was simply world class in his high-Sach-tech analysis. Gav enlarged upon how, in playing on to that Cork ball, Ten had his left elbow not quite pointing to mid-on - his batting grammar all wrong.

Came the quality composition of that 56 not out (enlarging into 92) and the little red cherry was ripe for the picking rather than the nitpicking! Still, till Sachin (at 11 for 2) asked the umpire for rearguard, the disturbing fact remained that Sourav's bowling resources had looked as hour-glass slim as Aishwarya Rai's waist. Re-living the way Zaheer, Ashish, Ajit and the Turbanator got headlessly smashed all over Trent Bridge, where do we go from 'ESPN' Headingley to The Oval? Don't forget, until Sachin Sunday happened at Trent Bridge, India's cricket cause was looking as Sourav Ganguly lost as was Mouli Ganguly's case as Shina in 'Kaahin Kissii Roz'.