It seems strange, in this era of YouTube and image-dominated marketing, but for many cricket lovers in the non-cricketing world (a pretty expansive geographic area, mind you), the best way to follow a live match is through CricInfo’s “Live Coverage.” The only trouble is, there’s no video. Can you bear it? In many ways, actually, yes. Much like when the best composers use silence to build suspense, less can be more in this case as well. Nowadays, watching a live cricket match leaves the viewer with an overdose of images: graphs, replays, hi-definition replays, scorecards, advertisements (esp. on Indian channels, which cannot resist making as much money as possible, with no regard for viewer satisfaction). Between each ball, as the bowler walks slowly to his mark, an entire eternity seems to have passed in television-world.
CricInfo’s page, however, replaces all this with serene nothingness: all you have, apart from a few ads here and there, is a gray page filled with text, often automated (“FOUR,” or “OUT“). In recent years, the commentators — if we can call them that — have tried to add fuller descriptions of what has just occurred, and you need to know your field positions well to have the complete picture (square leg, gulley, covers, extra covers — the cricket field is as complicated as a world map, I tell you).
Removed of all extra noise, you often find yourself hitting “Refresh” as often as possible in the event of a close match, yielding a double-layer of suspense: first, obviously, there is what is happening on the field. Secondly, however, there is the question of whether or not CricInfo has added that extra line about what just occurred.
In other words, placed in this sudden void of the visual, you find yourself longing, always, for more and more, and since the written word is the mechanism, your imagination has to fill the vacuum.
This is not to say, of course, that I would prefer reading a match than watching one. The biggest drawback to “Live Coverage” is that you inevitably tend to focus on the result, or the latest on-field event (FOUR, SIX, OUT, no run, no ball, etc), rather than the other factors, audio-visual or otherwise, that also make cricket enjoyable: batsmen pacing their innings, bowlers aiming at particular areas in an over in order to “set up” the batsman, or a batsman getting on bended knee as he strokes the ball away and the sound of the crowd when the stumps are rattled…
Still, there has been more than one occasion when I’ve dropped everything I’m doing — in a classroom, at work, or watching something on the TV — to sit by my computer and Refresh…just once more.