Match or Scoreboard?

January 28, 2007

by Aparajith Ramnath

I have written here on the joys of watching cricket at the stadium. The point of comparison, there, was television coverage. No doubt things were different in the pre-TV days, with people huddled around radios, hanging on to the commentator’s every word and trying to cobble those words together to form a picture of the action. It just occurred to me recently that we have, in a way, our own equivalent of the radio days (although the radio itself is still going strong) : following a match by tracking the score online.

How many of us, deprived of television coverage of cricket matches by location, the constant bickering of TV companies over telecast rights, or simply the lack of a TV, are now dependent on websites where you can get the latest score! Sitting in front of the computer screen numbly, waiting for the score to tick over, looking at the bottom of the page to see if fresh data is being sent. We stare at the names and numbers so long that all sorts of statistical operations begin to be performed in the mind; we notice, for instance, that it is barely half-way through the (ODI) innings and around twenty extras have been given away. Ah! The bowlers have been spraying it all over the place. Perhaps the wicketkeeper has not been at his most solid best. We make arcane calculations: ah, the other batsman is on strike now but the first one has not added to his score: a leg-bye, perhaps?

Sometimes we download a desktop scoreboard to save ourselves the trouble of using our browsers and wondering whether or not it is showing us the latest score. Invariably, this program is dominated by advertising, and before one knows what’s happening, announces something in the nature of a Javascript or unable-to-find-page error, prompting one to go back to the website itself.

This is the sort of stuff that can paralyse. Colonise the mind, to use high-falutin language. Not allow one to think of any other task in peace unless one is clicking away every few minutes. Yet, much of this can be said of TV coverage. And for those who don’t have the latter, there are times when scoreboard tracking can be a godsend, if a nerve-wracking one.