With the current CPL Cricket Tournament in full cry, a very nice lady from the local media called asking me to write something, in a lighter vein, on the event. It was on a very tight deadline, and she caught me on a day with a couple roti on the tawa, so I had to beg off, but it was a subject I had previously scribbled some notes on, and here they are. I have previously touched on the very touchy subject of Test versus T20, and won’t deal with that here; folks who cannot abide the difference – I call them “the Testy group” – are beyond saving anyhow. My focus today is essentially on the matter the very nice lady had in mind – the CPL – and my notes are a mixed bag.
To begin with, I find some of the rah-rah connected with T20 to be overdone, but I recognise that once you go down that road, the extreme stuff is going to seep in – you know, the lady with the excessively large behind bracing the camera, or the pathetic home-made costumes – so deal with the husk as well as the corn.
To summarise, what is happening in T20 is far more than just a cricket game – if you can’t see that, nothing anyone can write will help you, so I’m taking that as a given.
After a few matches of the CPL this year, some things are definitely better. From the first match, one could see the more professional lighting now being used on the dancing girls. (By the way, folks, the word describing what the ladies are doing is not ‘wineing’; booze is nowhere in sight. What they are doing is ‘winding the waist’ and in Caribbean dialects that becomes ‘win’ing’… please). Previously the ladies would get out there and, frankly, just jerk the gluteus maximus around, with a good dose of back balling… that is conventional stuff and when you see a lot of it, which happens, boredom sets in. Now, with the use of a little imagination – more subdued lighting, highlighting shapes and enhancing movement – we have a more sensual effect but the way it’s done it moves from what used to be tacky, almost vulgar, into something more artistic, and not so bradar, as we say in Guyana, and, thereby, more acceptable. And while on this aspect, the CPL producers have also clearly moved from the somewhat angelic female forms we see in other T20 tournaments and are showing us instead the more voluptuous shapes we’re known for in the region. Again, if you find that offensive, turn off the damned TV (it’s yours; you don’t have to ask permission) and go watch golf, or four guys playing poker.
It may be a small thing, but better this year as well is the CPL jingle. Okay, it’s a modern soca/dancehall fusion, but it’s an engaging piece of music, with a number of twists and turns, well sung, and well recorded. Again, if that kind of music is not your bag, I remind you that your TV set or smart phone has a volume control. For young people thinking of a musical career, you can learn a lot about the craft of jingle writing from studying the ones in the media, and this year the CPL has a winning one indeed. It’s commerce, well done.
Now a complaint: across the board, all commentators, please stop being so liberal with the “great shot” label. I have seen it applied to some of the most blatant cow swipes, or cross bat, where the ball ends up on the boundary. Cricket lovers fume when they see a ‘four’ being exalted with nobody stopping to say, as is often the case, that it resulted from a clumsy inept cricket shot. And on the question of commentary, generally, the standard could do with some upgrading. Listening to several of the games broadcast so far, one is impelled to say, “Lord, help them if we take the word ‘what’ out of their vocabulary. We are regaled with ‘what a shot, what a hit, what an athlete, what a game, what a win,’ on and on.” For heaven’s sake CPL, hand those guys a dictionary, or lock them in a room and play them tapes of commentators who know the language and know how to put drama in the thing, what to emphasise. Get some folks who know how to speak English with style and imagination … a shot to the boundary is not just “what a shot”… it’s “a flowing arc of power and control, the ball running away, jubilation in the stands”…what happened to language like that? What happened to “Lara, playing back, freezing for a moment, as if weighing his options, and then moving like a swordsman, slicing the ball to the boundary”…have the commentator mimic the NFL, following the cricket ball vocally, “he’s found a gap in the covers, and the ball runs through, skimming the grass, banging up against the boundary, masterful, beautiful.” If you can’t do anything else, at least put up a huge sign in the broadcast booth “The use of the exclamation ‘what’ is banned from all broadcasts.” Also get them to listen to the commentary in the current WI-England and India-Sri Lanka matches.
Finally, the tournament needs to pay more attention to the folks handling their TV broadcasts. Some of them, especially the Morrison gentleman, are truly excessive, “pushing too hard” my young nephew says, and are often clearly ignorant about some aspects of Caribbean culture. If you’re going to tell listeners about the food, for instance, please put people to do that job who have at least tasted, if not made, the stuff. Mr Bishop and, particularly, Darren Ganga, deal with cultural or sociological matters well, in a relaxed manner – Ganga shows a wide knowledge of all the players; their tendencies and failings – whereas some of the outside commentators can make us cringe. I understand the need for television viewers internationally to hear an Aussie or English or Indian voice, but come on guys; we’re in the Caribbean, get with it.