Umpiring style & substance

A. V. Jayaprakash seems to subscribe to Dickie Bird's spot finger-raising school of umpiring . — Pic. N. SRIDHARAN-

May be it is the fact that our telly coms are obsessed with being too descriptive, too definitive, that makes them falter. Nor is it "on" for a commentator, even if he be a certified first class umpire himself, to call into question a senior official's set style of functioning.

EVEN given the fact that our Sanjayuppie is in love with the sound of his own voice as commentator and singer alike, it was an unpardonable oversight. Sanjay noting during the 6 Nov. Cuttack ODI — seeing Rahul India's heads "dewdrop" — that our players wore blackbands, that one-day, in memory of Subroto Guha. Also, possibly, of Hemu Adhikari. It could have been that way. But the spot reason for our playing eleven to sport blackbands (that 6 Nov. Cuttack afternoon) was that Their Very Own Anil Kumble had lost his father. How could Sanjay possibly miss out on the genial K.N. Krishnaswamy being no more?

To obviate any such slip-up, AIR had a healthy dictum. This was that, first thing in the morning, the man going on the air offered the commentary team's heartfelt condolences to the one bereaved. Maybe it is the fact that our telly coms are obsessed with being too descriptive, too definitive, that makes them so falter. Nor is it "on" for a commentator, even if he be a certified first class umpire himself, to call into question a senior official's set style of functioning. Maninder Singh, as such a qualified umpire, clearly exceeded his commentary brief. As he counselled the seasoned A.V. Jayaprakash to tarry, awhile, before raising his finger. Not only against Sachin.

Simply because delaying is Manni's umpiring style, it need not be AVJ's. There are two umpiring schools here. England's Don Bradman-admired Frank Chester, the greatest umpire I ever saw in action, invariably took his own Steve Bucknor time before ruling a batsman out. But AVJ clearly subscribes to the Dickie Bird school.

A school believing that you have a chance of getting it as right — as is humanly possible — only if, before the batsman moves his feet, you pass instant judgment. This is AVJ's chosen norm — possibly to offset the glitch of any umpiring hesitancy "showing" on TV, InquisiTV. So who is Manni to say this battle scarred umpire should weigh the substance before pronouncing, in sum, his judgment?

No matter that AVJ's Cuttack lbw decision (off Kyle Mills) going against Sachin (14) looked, in handy hindsight, to be as dubious as David Shepherd's footfault directed at Viru Sehwag (29), off Daryl Tuffey, on the 8 October opening morning of the Ahmedabad Test. Even the most elite of those on the panel get it inexplicably flawed at times. But this is no call for Manni (or any other com) to tell the international match-hardened umpire how to do his job.

My wife Girija Rajendran (as a staunch Kannadiga) tells me that it is part of the Mysore tradition to be so instantly obliging. I myself have certainly seen this instant finger raising Mysore tradition extend (through 50 years) from M.G. Vijayasarathi to son M.V. Nagendra to A.V. Jayaprakash. To each ump his own jump.

How come none of us had any plaint when AVJ so readily lifted that finger against Scott Styris (68) during the same Cuttack ODI? I say AVJ was "spot on" in making that Scotty lbw decision off an oft-refused Murali Kartik. How we allow free play to foreign coms DD-querying even such a straightforward lbw? Invoking the aid of World Sport Nimbus technology to demonstrate that "the lbw ball" still had so many metres to travel! Viewed side-on, the decision could look dicey. Being, by such a replay stage, "square leg-showy".

A leg-show with a difference it was during the November 1974 West Indies vs India first Test. Where if not in AVJ's Bangalore! In the days this venerable umpire was still a vulnerable player. As AIR's Expert Commentator in that Nov. 1974 Bangalore Test, I wondered what Clive Lloyd could be possibly debating, midpitch, with Alvin Kallicharran. Tony Cozier, as Nosy Parker, made it his dressing-room business to find out. To let me impishly know, on the air, that Alvy-Clivey — midwicket converging — had been discussing the vital statistics of a Bangalore beauty espied in the grandstand. Displaying a near divine pair of legs. At the KSCA Stadium Love Is A Many Splendored Thigh.

Being All Thighs To All People is what saw Sridevi rule the North alongside the South. The Shape Of Thighs To Come is what (as the Sridevi look-alike) Shetty Shilpa sex-symbolises on the Espn-Star screen.

This while we "sightscreen" (on Sony) Mandira cozying up to Yuvvy (of the Fluid Left Hand Drive). Katrina, by contrast, we now get to view as having moved away from Kaify. As having moved on, in fact. In tune with the Zeitgeist.

Kats TV-comes through as the supermodel supreme, doesn't she? As one Samsung on her own rung. It is a rare gift, the plain innocence Katrina PLANO portrays. As just the Digital Inverter the viewer ordered. Side by side, look at the willowy way Ash comes, gliding down, as the La Mer 12th Floor Show. A smasher all the way down. Yet a smasher failing to break the concentration of the Anjalilliputian Sachin. Holding firm on the 10th `La Mer' Manzil.

Manzil wahee hai pyaar kii raahee badal gaye, so that Ash should be switching her piquant Mangalore snuff attentions to Laxy.

Whose shot selection, on the TV set, is as revealing as Ash's shot selection on the movie set. Bride and Prejudice — isn't that a contradiction in terms where Ash goes? Going on 30 like Lax, not yielding an inch to VVS in stature, Ash is the calibre of bride banishing prejudice. So that it is now entirely up to VVS to devise his own Laxmanual here.