A Partial Defense of Laxman Sivaramakrishnan

I’ve said before — again and again, in fact — that I don’t like Siva.

My animus boils down to one big thing: Siva comes across as a person impersonating a commentator, rather than an actual commentator. He knows the textbook things to say, and he dutifully says it, but that doesn’t necessarily make for good television. Ravi Shastri, for instance, understands the dynamics of drama — “Now this should be interesting!” — and he knows how to manipulate his voice and tone appropriately.

But I must say I appreciate Siva in certain aspects: first, the guy knows spin. I didn’t know he coached spinners until the recent series against South Africa, when he also simply and quickly demystified the googly (“As a batsman, if you see the bowler’s back of the hand, you know it’s a googly.”). That might be common knowledge to others, but it wasn’t to me. (And it isn’t to A.B. DeVilliers either, apparently.)

Second, Siva is unmistakably a dork. That too an Indian dork: he has oil in his hair, he’s kind of demure and wears big glasses. But I realized the other day how rare that is to see on television, where only the perfectly made-up people, or cricket legends, are allowed access. The thing is, while Siva may not banter easily or show much hints of originality, he still seems more sincere than, say, Sunil Gavaskar, whose jet black-dyed hair and perfectly accented English occasionally annoys me (especially when he harshly scolds onfield cricketers for some cricket foible or the other).

Also, I think my dislike stemmed from a post-colonial insecurity. Siva’s accent used to make me cringe; the way he can’t say words like “aggression” without tripping over it. That relates to my own insecurity as an Indian in America, where I learned the difference between the ‘v’ and ‘w’ and had to deal with the Apu jokes. I wonder: why do I find Geoff Boycott’s Yorkshire accent charming, but Siva’s own embarrassing?

So, keep your job, Siva. I still prefer Ravi over you, but, really, I’m not that impressed with the rest of Neo Cricket’s crew.


6 thoughts on “A Partial Defense of Laxman Sivaramakrishnan

  1. Prabu says:

    Siva definitely interests me when he decides to talk about technique. When he realizes that he doesn’t have to keep talking, he will be a much better commentator. When he does talk about intricacies, I do like what he says and am not ashamed to admit as much!

    • reina says:

      Exactly! He’s actually got very valid things to say about the finer points of the game. It’s just when he tries too hard to entertain and fill the silences that he becomes a bit excruciating.

  2. He was a leggie who played for the Indian team. Apparently, there are plenty of people, including Kapil Dev, who feel that he is one of the biggest wasted talents of the 80s and 90s

  3. Samir Chopra says:

    Nice stuff Rohan. I agree with the bit about his knowledge of spin. I wish he would calm down a bit and also let go of some of his jingoistic moods.

  4. Som says:

    Of course he knows spin better than most and talks passionately about that. I don’t have an issue with his accent either. It’s his His penchant for saying the obvious which comes as killjoy.

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