Dinesh Kartik the Indian cricketer turned commentator is in the news for all the wrong reasons lately. He has been commentating on England vs Sri Lanka game during which he compared bats to his wife. He said, “Most batters don’t like their own bat, they like another person’s bat. Bats are like neighbour’s wife, they always feel better”.
Degrading levels of Indian commentary
Since the past few years, I have seen Indian commentators become more casual in their job. Navjot Singh Sidhu was the earliest offender of this with his jokes and funny shayaris but the likes of Akash Chopra have taken this a few notches further. He tries too hard to make every sentence poetic, forcefully rhyming every line as if he’s been held at a gunpoint. It’s incredibly cringe and torture to the ear of every decent human being but as his contracts keep getting better, there is certainly a crowd for this kind of commentary. Now, most Indian commentators have started to emulate that. Pathan, Laxman, Parthiv Patel et al, everyone seems to be trying too hard to be a lyrical wordsmith on the expanse of listeners ears.
Indian commentators today are more interested in making a joke or play on words than doing actual analysis. This casual approach to a highly paid and followed job was certainly going to bite them in the ass, the latest casualty of which is Dinesh Karthik. What he said was incredibly sexist and does not belong on an international commentating panel. It sounds more like a chat among a ground of Indian uncles sitting in a park.
Is this a jibe on Murali Vijay?
It could be a jibe against his Tamil Nadu teammate Murali Vijay. Things turned sour between these two when Dinesh Karthik’s then-wife Nikita Vanjara divorced Karthik and married Murli Vijay in 2012. Things have been awkward between these two who has played with and against each other on many occasions after that. Karthik has turned his life around after that incident, marrying an ambitious woman in Dipika Pallikal but the scars of his failed marriage and betrayal remain unhealed. He is visibly sad whenever he talks about his past marriage and divorce. It is possible that this could be a jibe on Murali Vijay for wooing his wife and eloping with her. But it does not justify its usage on an international commentary stage.
It seems more at home at a Kapil Sharma show where he makes similar sexist remarks on guests and other hosts. This kind of commentating is fine for the IPL which leans more towards entertainment, but Indian commentators should not let this casual approach bleed into an international commentary. The West Indian great, Michael Holding has recently criticised IPL’s casual approach to the game and Karthik’s recent blunder certainly seems to cement that position.