Cricket: The voice of the cup - an Oz in India

World Cup Diary

SINCE TEST Match Special was a bright and articulate youngster, and long before it grew into a strapping but self-satisfied adult, it has been the fashion to listen to its commentaries while watching the game on television. This probably still holds good in many households, but a new way of watching has now emerged.

This is to watch the television while following the written description of play being delivered on the internet, particularly on the CricInfo web site. During this World Cup, a chap called Travis Basevi is probably on the verge of achieving cult status.

Travis's love for the game is in no doubt. He follows it with a youthful passion and his declarations on the state of play are vigorous and immediate. Travis is to cricket commentary what, say, Bill and Ted were to Incredible Journeys: well-meaning but a touch off the wall.

He is a 24-year-old Australian who appears to be delivering commentary on most, though certainly not all, World Cup games and is doing so from India. This is partly because access to live games can be difficult, partly because not every ball of every game is being shown on television when the coverage is with the BBC ,which makes CricInfo ball-by-ball critique diifficult and partly because the web site's biggest office and following is in the sub-continent.

The site has been more ardently followed than a soap opera since the tournament began. And if it caters for every need of the anorak then it does not forget the polo shirt either. Travis has been exemplary, quick to describe, rapid to opine. "Six, big, big shot, he slides down the pitch and dispatches it into the river for a chilly English summer dip," he said when the Indians were belting the Sri Lankans into the Tone, and he had occasion to say it more than once.

"They're going to have to change the laws if this keeps going," he offered at more than one point. This is something of a catchphrase and an indication that Travis might be a bowler.

On the partnership between Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly he pronounced: "A divine partnership blessed by the deity surely - and I don't mean SRT." SRT being Sachin Tendulkar.

He is hard on some players, like the New Zealand dibbly-dobbly supremo: "One day [Gavin] Larsen will get blasted for 70 or 80 in a one-day international. I want to be there." He is hard on certain matches, like England v Zimbabwe: "Six scoring shots in the last six overs. What diabolical crap...the torture is over." Young Travis may be the first star of a new method of sporting coverage.

SPONSORS ARE being forced to protect what belongs to them - on the reasonable grounds that they have paid for it - in this tournament. There are four global partners, those who were prepared to cough up the biggest share of the loot: Vodafone, Pepsi, NatWest and Emirates Airlines.

Between them they have carved up certain name-check areas. Thus, NatWest and Emirates may be wanting a touch more rain because they are emblazoned on the covers (the Diary will be examining the topic of rain next week); Pepsi are all over the dinky little drinks carts; and Vodafone have the problem.

The mobile phone company has the rights to the fours and sixes posters now raised at grounds (fitting that because they can be as irritating as a ringing mobile) but are finding themselves cut off, so to speak, at the pass.

Interlopers are meeting fans at stations and handing out their own four and six placards. It is heartening that the carnival is provoking industrial espionage.

IT MAY not have occurred to the authorities but running on to the pitch - not a new phenomenon whatever Steve Waugh, an acknowledged cricket historian, may presume - is less to do with touching your idols or cuffing the opposition's, than gaining a memento. All the fans want, it looks from the Shrove Tuesday mass football game type scrum at both ends of the pitch, is what the players also traditionally make a dash for, a souvenir stump. The players could easily nip this in the bud. Surely only Inzamam, the great batsman and run-out specialist, should have trouble beating a fan to a stump.

WHEN WEST INDIES beat Scotland on Thursday they did so in the shortest match in World Cup history. Scotland batted, if, bless them, that is not to overestimate their skills, for 31.3 overs, West Indies knocked off the 69 required in 10.1 overs, a total of 41.4 overs.

In the second World Cup in 1979, England dismissed Canada for 45 and on a sporting pitch lost two wickets in securing victory. One-day cricket was different then, however. Canada held out for 40.3 overs (against the likes of Bob Willis, Mike Hendrick, Chris Old and Ian Botham - oh for that quartet now), England required 13.5 overs to win.

CARNIVAL CAPERS

SO far, there is no award - some oversight obviously - for public address announcer of the tournament. Pity Les Hart. Les could hardly put down the mike on Friday at Derby. "This is a very serious warning," he intoned when warning against going on to the playing area. "There will be no second chance." And when they invaded towards the end, Les was apoplectic: "Keep off the square, please. Oh, what's the use, you fools, you've ruined the whole day of good behaviour."

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