I’ve been lucky enough to have this Friday off, which is great for a cricket fan if you like village level entertainment. First, I got to see Tamim Iqbal struggling to break the 40mph barrier in the last over of the day in Chittagong. Then, over to Kingstown to watch the Zimbabwe race to 19/1 off the first 4 overs in the ODI, of which a grand total of 2 come off the bat.
So my hopes rested with the opening of the IPL, for the first time broadcast on “free to air” television in the UK. “Free to air television” being ITV4, home of such high brow entertainment as “Cops With Cameras” and “World’s Wildest Police Videos”. Here is how its opening stint went, as I continue on my endless mission to be entertained by T20 cricket:
1.50 – While UB40 entertain the masses at the IPL, ITV4 are showing “The Champions” – a fantasy espionage drama which apparently came before special effects or acting ability were widely available.
2.13 – A Geordie introduces the coverage, rather bewilderingly over the sound of an F1 car. Cue the generic Bollywood music!
2.14 – A woman in a sari who I have never seen before tells us why cricket is no longer boring thanks to India. Mandira Bedi is her name. Hoggard and Hick in the studio – Hick seems to wearing a shiny metallic shirt. “You’d have smashed it out there, wouldn’t you Graeme!” proclaims Matt Smith, the other presenter. Hoggy looks faintly embarrassed.
2.20 – A half decent preview of all the teams is ruined when Adam Gilchrist is named as the Deccan “stumper”. Dear God. Smith continues to try to make jokes, which Hoggy and Hick gamely smirk at. Mandira seems to actually have an idea what is going on and is carrying the coverage, which is promising.
2.30 – Over to the toss. Ravi Shastri seems to have lost the plot a little, and is bellowing like a madman. Gilchrist wins the toss, and will bowl. “Any reason for that” shouts Shastri. “Awww, no” says Gilchrist. “The toss doesn’t matter” says Ganguly. Thrilling stuff.
2.31 – They are talking about South African soil back in the studio. Hoggy tries and fails to hide just how bored he is by this conversation.
2.33 – “Ravi is an excitable man” smirks Mandira. I laugh, then realise I should probably grow up.
2.39 – A clip of the opening ceremony. Someone else is singing “Dancing on the Ceiling” while Lionel Ritchie dances around like a Dad at a wedding. Meanwhile, about 200 dancers are on the outfield in huge white shapeless costumes. I’m starting to think this is all just a very strange dream.
2.43 – The teams are in. The Knight Riders have McCullum, Mendis and Gayle in their squad. Their 4 overseas players tonight? Hodge, Matthews, Langeveldt and Shah. Hmmm.
2.50 – The Kinght Riders are 0/2 already. Dear dear.
So how is the ITV4 coverage shaping up? Wooden, as expected, but there is oddly some potential there. Finding a clued up female presenter is a definite bonus (Cricket AM take note). The problem will be finding anyone who has heard of ITV4, let alone will know that there is cricket on it.