Combine the flagrant use of economic might to acquire a commensurable political power with the vulgar ethos of putting everything up for sale – even nouns, for fuck’s sake – and it is surely only a matter of time before their cricketers receive numinous orders to sign contracts obliging them to take such guards as lastminute.com middle-and-leg (“towards you a bit for lastminute.com…”), Patak’s one-leg and the like, all the while crouching down, as contractually stipulated, so that the stump mic’ picks up every last corporately sponsored syllable.
Bowlers won’t be spared, either, by the omni-commercialization: “Change of bowling, batsman: coca-cola right-arm over the wicket”. And once that happens (around the time of the afternoon session of Day 3 of the Lord’s Test, sources tell me), the despondency will be all-pervasive. Indian (and thus world) cricket culture will enter meltdown. Rome will fall. And the Indian squad all know this already – ergo, they have no chance of winning this series…
As for the commentary, who knows which pundit will be invited by Sky as guest gushspout – the unctuous Shastri; the loquacious Laxman Shivaramakrishnan; the supercilious Gavaskar, a man who bristles so much he uses his own forefinger to brush his teeth; or that aphoristic agitator, Navjot Singh Sidhu (“all that comes out of a cow is not milk”) – but please, just let them go with the flow, for heaven’s sake, and use whatever Ferrari words come into their Dom Perignon heads at any given Rolex moment. (Personally, I advise you to avoid Sky anyway and listen to the joyously picaresque online musings of the Test Match Sofa crew.)
Whoever it is that enters the comm-box, they should bear in mind Haigh’s sage analysis, with which I now leave you:
The television commentator has always been sensitively placed. His network has paid good money to broadcast, and thus has an interest in the game being perceived as representing high-quality excitement – even when it is not. Richie Benaud didn’t become His Richieness by saying: “This is a boring game between two mediocre teams and represents an ideal opportunity for you to go mow the lawn.”
With Twenty20, however, there is the added imperative of promoting a format in which exorbitant sums and giddying hopes have been invested. The consumer has not just to be sold the game he is watching, but the Twenty20 concept in general; persuaded that he is witness not just to a contest of teams, but a contest of genres, with Modi responsible for the most exciting breakthrough since penicillin. It forces the commentator even further from the ideal perspective of disinterested critic, bringing to bear a weight of experience and a talent for observation; it reduces him to sideshow huckster, flogging the game like a patent medicine from the back of his covered wagon. Nor am I sure it ultimately does the sponsors much good either.
There are two sides to brand recognition: one where the sponsor’s name conjures up warm and positive associations; another where it stirs irritation and objection, as a result, perhaps, of incessant, cloying, annoying repetition. So, yes, we now know which sponsors to find, and also, if so moved, those to avoid
And that, Dear Reader, is today’s Pearl & Dean Pearl of Wisdom.