IPL Ads: We’ve Had Quite Enough, Thank You.

Rising Pune Supergiant are slogging every ball in the dying overs, trying to set a target for Gujarat Lions. Praveen Kumar is bowling the 19th over and Manoj Tiwary flicks his third ball, the bat breaks and Tiwary is trying hard to complete two runs with just the bat handle, makes a desperate dive and slides the bat handle in.

The commentator utters: “That’s a Vitara Brezza Glam shot!”

IPL has commercialized every possible facet of the game. The amount of brand vomit we have to suffer through in every game we watch on TV is ever-increasing and one can’t help escape the feeling that in the IPL, cricket comes secondary to showbiz. Several times a match, we will see a helpless soul waving his hands vigorously, looking off camera, with a sheepish smile and chanting a team name. Yes, that poor person resembling an android running on a Duracell battery is the “Vodafone Super Fan”. These days, the Man of the Match gets the same recognition and award as the “FBB Stylish player”, which sometimes is hard to understand if it was given for some attractive cricket or because that cricketer looked slick after a clean shave and haircut.

For a long time in my life, the word “photocopier” was unknown to me. I only knew it as “Xerox machine” because that is what I had heard people call it. Similarly, I won’t be surprised if the present day kids develop their cricketing vocabulary watching IPL, and think “Yes Bank Maximum” is the official term for scoring a six. The commentators could not care less if the ball in the air crosses the boundary or lands in the hands of a fielder. They have sponsors for both. If not a maximum, it will be a “Vivo Perfect catch”, even if it was a dolly. Geoffrey Boycott’s mum has already won the award twice.

The worst offender of all is the Ceat Tyres Strategic Time-Out”. It could be put to good use when the team really needs to get together and work out the remainder of the game. But common sense should prevail while calling for this break, as it is pointless when a team needs five runs in six overs with ten wickets in hutch. Sure, the company pays a sackload of cash but maybe in such impossible scenarios, they should try and call it “Ceat Tyres Desperately Hoping For A Miracle But If It Does Happen, Pigs Might Start Flying Onto The Cricket Pitch Time Out”.

Like the game itself, commentary is rapidly becoming brandcentric. It is painful to hear legends of the game getting excited about an edge flying to the boundary and shouting “Citi Moment of Success”. People behind the microphone are mostly aiming to appease their sponsors. Those who grew up falling in love with the game through the voice of Tony Cozier, Richie Benaud, David Gower now have to settle for far less. We have come close to breaking our TV sets hearing Kevin Pietersen behave like a desperate housewife trying her best to seduce the mailman. Meanwhile, we have adapted our brains to find Danny Morrison funny. That’s how low the bar is currently set.

Year after year, the amount of focus on advertising in three hours of a game is reaching ludicrous heights. One can only hope that this trend does not carry over to any other form of cricket. Otherwise, in a few years, we will be watching a Test match where the umpire will call for a Haldiram’s Chaat and Dhokla break instead of saying ‘Gentlemen, it’s lunch’.