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Of cricket streams and noise
by Venu M Bolisetty
Nov 10, 2007
I admire people who live in big cities, not for their cosmopolitan lifestyle but, simply because they have to put up with so much noise. As a resident of a major metropolis, I have the privilege of paying extra taxes, experiencing crowded public transportation and noise that never ends. Constant humdrum of vehicles from ambulances to police cars and construction that starts before sunrise and finishes well past sunset ensure that noise surrounds me in many displeasing ways. When I watch cricket, like many others, I’d at least like to choose the noise I want.

Sometime after 2001 die-hard cricket lovers in California, started streaming cricket over the internet much to the delight of many cricket fans stranded abroad. They aptly named themselves Willow TV, no credit for guessing their motivation behind that name. I love Willow TV, and apparently I am a good customer too, and I receive discounted offers for many of their popular packages. In the early days there were very few commercials, they received satellite feed and every now and then you’d see an advertisement.

Recently, they began streaming television channels and the current India versus Pakistan series is being brought to us by Zee Sports. Lest we forget, it’s Zee Sports. Don’t worry they don’t give you a chance to forget because you get to be reminded after every over, after every wicket, during every drinks break and at times during the over too! After reminding us, we’re told how we can purchase this channel. I’ll let the irony sink in.

Going back to satellite feeds. During the big Lunch or Tea breaks, we got to see presenters, often past professional cricketers, talking to camera personnel or working out the logistics of a segment. It kept me glued during these breaks to see who was going to be there and what they were going to say. One must also remember that controversy wasn’t too far away in these feeds as Dean Jones experienced. With television channels we’re back to choreographed and rehearsed debates. Debates are fine when people have valid points, otherwise it just gets engulfed into noise.

The standard of commentary too has steadily declined in these broadcasts. Most commentators now feel the need to fill every second with an anecdote, a comment or “this is so exciting.” One of the most revered commentators of our time, Richie Benaud, spent time studying broadcast journalism and the result is there for everyone to see. Who can forget that moment at The Oval in 2005, when England was closing in on the famous Ashes victory, the camera panned to a group of eager Englishmen attempting to uncork a bottle of champagne. Richie’s advice: ”Be careful. Hold the bottle. Turn the cork.” Funny and enlightening and slightly misleading too.

The move from Agricultural/Industrial society to a service-based professional society has taught us that training specialists are needed in disciplines that once would’ve felt outlandish.Is it too much to ask commentators to spend some time with certified broadcast trainers and communication specialists. We expect International cricketers to be trained by sports psychologists, physiotherapists, fitness experts, media agents and so on. Why should we expect any less from the broadcasters who are an important part to the cricketing experience?

On a somewhat related note, one thing that would be convenient is to have an ability to switch between two different cricket streams as easily as on television sets. I often purchase more than one match that is going on at the same time and it is time-consuming to switch between the two streams often resulting in loss of some crucial moments. Perhaps a menu on their video page that automatically lists each of the different matches, so the user can choose which disturbing noise he or she listens to.

 
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