Why Sidhu is
As the Cricket World Cup fever sets in with millions of
cricket fans the world over remaining glued to their TV sets, the
rising expectations are not only about batsmen and bowlers and fielders,
but also about cricket commentators. They are the people, who mike
in hand, add lustre to "the game of the flannelled fools"
that is sometimes drab and always time-consuming, compared to other
games such as football or rugby.
How dull would watching cricket on the little screen be without
all the incisive comments and delightful asides we hear from the
Who will sit
in the commentary box in South Africa as it hosts the World Cup
2003? We know the players but not the commentators, but one expects
Navjot Singh Sidhu to be among them.
We were accustomed
to watch Sidhu opening the Indian innings gracefully and then fielding
dexterously in the deep, but it was a pleasant surprise to note
that this likeable cricketer had made his presence felt in another
He now sits
mike in hand in the commentary box, immaculate in elegant turban
and gorgeous beard rather than in helmet and all the armoury of
the protective gear of batsmen.
in English, as colourful as his turbans and his neck ties to match,
flow in an endless stream to describe and analyse what's happening
on the field. "Straight as a candle" was the simile he
used to describe the strokes that sent the ball to the boundary
line off Marvan Atapattu's and Mahela Jayawardana's bats.
drifted to the lengthening power cuts in those days when we had
to use more and more of our locally produced candles, none of which
happened to be straight!
commentator, the inimitable Tony Greig displayed on the screen statistics
of test cricketers who had reached great heights in the past with
bat and ball, Sidhu argued that cricket statistics were "like
mini skirts": what they reveal is very suggestive but what
they conceal is very vital.
in his column, called Muttiah Muralitharan "the smiling assassin"
and Ravi Nagahawatta, in his, "India's destroyer" after
he had taken eight Indian wickets in the final Coca Cola test. For
Sidhu, Murali was the "wily old Fox", a term we would
have thought only fitted the late JRJ. At other times, Sidhu dubbed
Murali as the Executioner.
produced its own English idioms and phrases, which have acquired
extended metaphorical connotations. "It's not cricket",
for any foul play and injustice, "a straight game" for
an honest deal, and "playing for time" for delaying tactics
and a myriad other such expressions have been absorbed into the
Now we have
a host of delightful Sidhuisms to enrich and enliven a cumbersome
In Galle, during
the Coca Cola Trophy series, Sidhu lamented that the Indian batsmen
had "loads of potential" put to no use because of "woeful
batting", and when the camera focused on the Indian coach John
Wright in the pavilion, he called him "John Wrong".
The Galle pitch
was for Sidhu, "a minefield of a pitch". A curious subtlety
and clever elaboration reside in the lurking affinities that Sidhu
creates between the real and the imagined.
who Ranjan Madugalle referred to as "the Lion of Matara"
and who Shastri described as "a man with arms of steel",
was seen by Sidhu as "a thorn in the Indian side" and
when he was dismissed cheaply in some innings, as "a wounded
lion". And, the umpire who gave him out was "the man with
the dreaded finger". These are comparisons that represent "what
oft was thought but ne'er so well expressed" as Sidhu does.
hen over a China egg" was his analogy for a batsmen sent back
to the pavilion with a low score.
When the Sri
Lankan victory in the Final Test became a foregone conclusion, Sidhu
had this to spare: "It ain't over until the fat lady sings,"
(taken from a US basketball commentary, which produced an analogy
between a sporting event and an opera).
The series ended
with Sri Lanka recording countless centuries, leaving the silver-tongued
Will you be
there in the commentary box in South Africa, Navjot Sidhu, to talk
about our boys as they vie for "the cake with the red cherry