Cricket fans in India would share a similar opinion. Cricket coverage in India is at an all time low. Just watching a match on an Indian channel makes you wonder- are they covering a cricket match? They don't talk much about the game and try to be too glamorous- as ESPNSTAR has proven with Shaz, Waz and all that Jazz.
The annoying trend started with Sony MAX in the ICC Champions Trophy. A loud, pop-art style coverage, known as 'Extraaa Innings', made its entry, with Charu Sharma and, of all anchors, Ruby Bhatia (a former music channel anchor), hosting the show. Clearly, Ruby was added just for glamour, and did not seem to be a serious cricket fan. Plus, there were several gimmicks such as there was a character from a hit movie in the stands, a cartoon tiger for eery occasion, strange prediction contests, Tarot card reading sessions and above all, silly discussions in pre-match, mid-match and post-match shows. Once, the anchors even asked Glenn McGrath about his batting, when they could ask him for tips on fast bowling!
The commentary team always made themselves conspicuous by their bloopers, especially Shrikanth. Not to mention, they also had Robin Singh and Venkatesh Prasad, who did not seem right for a commentary box. The rest of the commentators, especialy lesser seen and heard ones, such as Anshuman Gaikwad and Vinod Kambli, and also Roshan Mahanama, were just extras. And who can forget Mandira Bedi? The only saving grace were the presence of Mark Nicholas, Jeff Thomson and some more famous names. Luckily, the Sky Sports coverage was relayed by DoorDarshan, so I stayed with that channel.
The next one to follow was DD Sport, with "Fourth Umpire". We remember Wisden 20:20, a very interesting, and even educational, analysis of each match, which was definitely a top class analysis session. But "Fourth Umpire" changed it all- silly contests, a Tarot Card reader and their answer to Mandira- what has DD come to? Even ESPNSTAR, who have been one of the best channels covering Indian cricket, introduced the "Shaz and Waz show", where Ravi Shastri and Wasim Akram dress in casuals and talk to female fans voted by the viewers, in the studio. What they did in the Asia Cup doesn't need a mention.
Why do TV channels do this? Cricket, as we all know, is a national passion in the country. These channels get a lot of money showing the game as it is. There is no need to add extra glamour to the sport. A lot of Indian cricket fans are serious fans and don't approve of this. Whom are they trying to impress? At least Ten Sports is sticking to the game they cover, which is not so bad. Their coverage of the India-Pakistan series stood out.
If you're not watching the game in India, do you come across this brand of cricket coverage there? Your opinion?
Top 3 channels that cover the game:
Sky Sports (England)
Ten Sports (Pakistan, Sri Lanka)
Channel 9 (Australia)