When cricket season arrives, soaps and other TV shows take a backseat. Isn’t it? It does happen at my home especially when it’s the world cup and I am free. But my mother had a common grudge that she had to lose out more than others as apart from the cricket match, the pre and the post-match analysis too ate into her serials. In this blog I will discuss and compare two match analysis shows that we witnessed in the cricket world cups. They are “extra innings” aired on SET MAX during the 2003 and 2007 editions of the cricket world cup and “cricket extra” that is being aired on STAR cricket in this edition i.e. cricket world cup, 2011.
So what has changed? The noodle strings of Mandira Bedi have been replaced by matching turban and tie of Navjot “sherry” Sidhu. The almost bald head of Charu has been replaced by transplanted hairstyle of Harsha. Is that all? Surely there is more to it. Let us first look at the main features and aspects of a cricket analysis show. They are the anchor, the expert panel and aesthetics of the studio. We’ll now compare them one by one.
The anchor: In “extra innings”, it was the Mandira-Charu combine whereas “cricket extra” is hosted by one and only Harsha Bhogle. While Mandira’s claim to fame has been TV serials, Harsha’s fame has mainly revolved around cricket. It won’t be wrong to say that he has been the most famous non-cricket playing Indian related to cricket (I am leaving out the BCCI or IPL heavyweights). I am not sure what to make out of Mr. Charu as he hasn't impressed me at all. So while Mandira added glamour to cricket through her sarees and hairstyles, Harsha adds value through his knowledge, experience, familiarity with cricketers (he has a history of more than a decade) and of course his ability to control the flow of the discussion (With Sidhu in the panel, it’s a much needed quality else “he will make hay while things go haywire”).
The Expert panel: Even though experts like Tony Greig could be found on both the shows, “cricket extra” has certainly been the more consistent of the two as Harsha is accompanied by either ex-cricketers or the deviation is at the maximum to the “cricket analyst” i.e. Simon Hughes in the current edition. On the other hand “extra innings” had a heady mix of cricketers as well as actors. I remember Rohit Roy in one of the shows. While it’s debatable what combination is preferred by the TV audience, I am of the opinion that one should limit that to cricket experts. After all it is supposed to be a match analysis show.
The aesthetics: I won’t dwell a lot on this but there is a perceptible difference in the two studios. “Cricket extra” has a very cricket-like appearance or you can say a “sporty” look. You have minimal furniture, mainly small upright chairs. On the other hand “extra innings” had a very relaxed appearance with every attempt being made at showing the entire frame of Mandira. If I correctly remember, one could find sofas in the SET MAX studio.
One can say that the characteristics of the broadcasting channels were the reason behind the differences. SET MAX way of entertainment is movies and serials whereas ESPN-STAR sports is known for covering sports. This was on display in the manner they presented cricket to us i.e. their core competencies or strategic advantages (couldn’t resist using MBA jargons). All I would say is that I don’t mind glamour every now and then as it’s sometimes a welcome break but too much of it as was the case with “extra innings” can become a distraction. Else, instead of describing Sachin’s straight drive Tony Greig wouldn't have been marveling at Mandira’s sarees or the announced reasons for ad-breaks wouldn't have been helping Mandira “feel” better as Charu once sheepishly announced. So my vote will be for “cricket extra” as it gives that “extra” that a cricket audience is looking for.
If you agree enrich this discussion with your views and if you don’t, please enlighten us with your thoughts. As in a “cup that counts”, the “view” does matter. Which “view”: the choice is yours.