I am not a cricket fan. IPL or no IPL, my life goes on at pretty much the same pace as before. But once in a while, when I take a break to step into the recreation zone (where the husband, the cats, the airconditioner and all the entertainment gadgets are housed), I can’t help but sum up the goings-on and usually make a hasty retreat, sometimes in less than fifteen minutes.
I notice Mandira Bedi, sans noodle straps and sari, chic new haircut, trying to infuse as much bubbly quotient into the insipid proceedings of the IPL (well, I know enough to tell a good match from a bad one). I like what I see. I like her hair (I always like women who experiment with their hair), I love her clothes and accessories and I don’t really give a damn about her cricket quotient. Forget what everyone else has to say—I believe that any average person watching cricket, whether it is the building watchman or the people at work or the Ranji trophy player next door is always laden with statistics. She obviously cannot compete in that department, and why should she?
I am aware of all the criticism she has had to deal with. “What does she know about cricket?” Or “She’s just a trophy on the show..” and “How dumb can she get…?” blah, blah, blah… I wonder why she is at the receiving end of so much hate mail. It’s not that the men backstage are an effusive bunch, brimming with pizzaz and repartees that Bedi sticks out like a sore thumb. They are so not.
I grew up in the era of test cricket, when dad and his beer buddies usually congregated at one person’s house and got wasted for five days while the wives bickered in the background. I was the ten-year old that passed the nibbles and water around then. It was a time when there were real men at the box—even though I was too young to sift the men from the boys. ML Jaisimha, Venkatraghavan, Abbas Ali Baig, Tony Greig, Richie Benaud, Geoff Boycott, Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, Asif Iqbal ((dishy Imi was very much on the field back then) had enough gravitas, humour or drool quotient to last the entire five days of the test matches and no one was complaining. You never needed a Mandira Bedi then (noodles or no noodles).
But what do we have now? Kris (yeah!) Srikanth with his tedious sense of humour, Ravi Shastri (who incidentally loves the sound of his voice so much that he actually repeats the same thing, twice), Mohinder Amarnath (deadpan uninterrupted), Sanjay Manjrekar (less deadpan), Sunny Gavaskar (who for some strange reason is never sunny side up), Sidhu (whose Sidhuisms are also getting tedious) or Ajay Jadeja (umm.. ohh..) .
Ahem! I now understand why Ms Bedi is important in the scheme of things. No wonder then, that despite all the flak, the channel always brings her back. In any case, I’d rather watch her than any of the men off the field.