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Sherry, you are the pineapple of perfection

Navjot Singh Sidhu's spontaneous style is clearly the best thing to have happened to cricket commentary in the decent past, writes Avirook Sen.

india Updated: Feb 09, 2003 19:21 IST

There's a growing band of people, crouching potatoes waiting to pounce on anything that irritates their delicate upturned noses, who want to hear the last of Navjot Singh Sidhu. They think he's totally insufferable: like a poor, never-ending joke with no end.

But starting today, thank God, our Sherry will tell us like it is, like it or not, from South Africa.

Sidhu's critics are complete idioms. Sidhu's literary delusions, his ability to draw parallels through spontaneous, insightful metaphysics and his illiterations (like the sound of Sachin's bat striking three consecutive half-volleys) are clearly the best thing to have happened to cricket commentary in the decent past. In fact, I'd go as far as to suggest they should be taught as part of the syllables in schools and colleges.

These people I'm talking about, they also say that Navjot, his ties included, is far too voluminous. They complain that they have to make adjustments on practically all functions on the remote control every time the man comes on. I have to disagree with the crouch potatoes once again. I think Sidhu is a shining example to the commentators of today and to the inspiring commentators of the future. I find the sarcasm about his sartorius completely unhumorous. And his diction and detonation are immaculate.

The source of Sidhu's aspiration isn't hard to find (you need only to go back to the 18th Century for it) and it happens to be another Sherry: Richard B.Sheridan. This Sherry, was a playwright in the comedy of manners genre who created the famous character Mrs Malaprop.

The comparison between the Sherrys is appropriate for two reasons. First, both Sidhu and Richard B are creative people. The only difference is that one was a writer of comedies of manners while the other plays out comedies of some manner. Second similarity: one meant to write (say) "make no delusions to the past" and wrote it. And the other meant to say (say) "the pitch is senile" and said it. (There is some debate about whether Sidhu should have said "docile" to describe a flaccid pitch, but Sherry has always called a spade a spade, so I don't see why he should call a senile a docile). Note also, that there is no debate about what Sheridan wanted to convey. Racist pigs!

The snooty types also complain that some of Sidhu's cliches are as long and winding as a Beatles road. The man first goes nowhere and then ties himself in knots, they say.

This, too, is utter nuisance. First, there's an explanation for the cliches: they importunately become cliches because Sherry repeats the praises so many times. Through no fault of his own, it may be added: TV audiences are generally dumbfounded and require incessant repetition (e.g 'yeh dil mange more' ). And second, editing a Sidhuism is like turning a majestic turban into a mere patka. (Touche, not cliché.)

At the cost of sounding repetitive myself, I really don't see why people complain so much about Sidhu's commentary. As a public speaker, he really is up there with the best. Take George W. Bush, whom we see on TV more than Navjot, for instance. It was he who, I believe, gave us that line since immortalised by Doonesbury: "Rarely is this question asked: Is our children learning?". Bush has gone on, and so should Sidhu.

So I wait eagerly for the World Cup, not the least because of the bricks (of gold) that Sidhu will no doubt drop. For the seamless pearls that will devolve from the sandy bed at the bottom of his ocean of wisdom. For the literal rubies that will light up a day and night game like a glass of sherry (pun intended!) held under a thousand candle chandelier.

Thank you, Sherry. And do not worry, your fans are higher thinkers than those of your colleges. (They are also higher up: you have ceiling fans, the others merely table fans.)

As for me, I'll burrow a phrase from Sheridan to tell you what I think of you: "You are the pineapple of perfection."

First Published: Feb 09, 2003 11:54 IST