Cricket talk, minus noise

It's Old Trafford, August 2011. Rahul Dravid, T20I debutant, has just caressed Samit Patel for his third straight six in the over.

The commentators call it run-time: "He's taken the aerial route," they say, or versions of it.

Kevin Pietersen, somewhere within Dravid's earshot, chirps something. Dravid looks back dry, dry as the finest white wine. Then, he lips back something cute. The exchange, unfortunately, is inaudible on TV but we can see KP chuckling a full body one.

Fast forward a year, to the last week of September in Colombo. This time, Dravid and Pietersen are perched inside the television studio, suited up. Both are debutants, in their own right. On the field, Chris Gayle performs the hip-shaking and very viral 'Gangnam Dance' on taking a wicket.

KP probes Dravid if he would perform anything like that when India takes a wicket. Before he can reply, KP answers himself. "Wait a minute, your Indian bowlers should have the ability to take wickets first!"

Now we can hear it all, and it's refreshingly brilliant.

In Dravid and Pietersen, contrasts if ever, the broadcasters have, for once, got their 'experts' spot-on. Dravid is all raised elbows and self-deprecation ("Gimme 19 hours of batting any day over your switch-hit, KP") while KP, well, is just KP.

Yes, the studio allows for more detailed analysis than live commentary, but their impromptu, conversational insights cannot be practiced. Sample this. Dravid, all probing and poking and armed with questions, wants to know how 'confidence' and 'format of the game' are related. "I'll tell you how," says KP. "When you guys were last there (in England), we sorted your Suresh Raina out with the short-pitched stuff in Tests and got him sacked from the squad.

Going into the ODIs, our bowlers aimed at his mid-riff better than during the Tests. Raina planted each of them into the fourth tier. That's what confidence can do. Cricket suddenly seemed very easy." Even on our ears.

... contd.

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