Never mind if you're not following India play in the West Indies. Most people aren't. Including the broadcasters, Ten Sports or whatever it is they call themselves nowadays – preferably names.
The few that were watching, way past midnight, were justly whipped for their trespasses. We were on the verge of a moment – after taking strike on the first ball of the Indian innings, opener KL Rahul was about to close in on a Test century. But how would Ten Sports know?
It was way past their bedtime. They had left the controls in the hands of the nightwatchman and the chai wallah with strict instructions – when in doubt, cut to the ads. And drink tea so you can cut to the ads.
KL Rahul was on 96, facing offbreak bowler, Roston Chase. Rahul was here on the back of a monster IPL season and a mini monster series in Zimbabwe. He had shown enough intent to open instead of Chris Gayle for RCB, and earn all the hugs and more from Virat Kohli.
So, what do you think KL Rahul will do? Just what Virender Sehwag would have done, right? Right. Down the wicket, BANG! What happened? Ad happened.
Did KL Rahul reach his hundred? Of course he did. That was going for six and beyond. As was the telecast.
Who in their right mind wants to see a ball that is definitely going for six go for six? And those celebrations, haven't we seen enough centurions raise their bats, look at the heavens, kiss their trinkets and hug their mates on reaching a century? And it wasn't as if this was a Virat Kohli celebration, now that is something else.
But this advertisement Ten Sports showed, we were just warming up to it for the 7011th time. At least now we know what to wear on a hot date and how to get Punjabi on our mobile phone and Ballet Ballet everyone into submission.
So that was that. If you were awake watching, for whatever idiotic reason, you needed to leave. And if the Supreme Court decides to stay awake and watch, they will know – the Lodha Commission Report is being spat on every night, during the live telecast of an international match that features India.
The BCCI and Ten Sports could argue that it was the last ball of Chases' over. And sometimes, the urge to cut for an ad is even greater than the need to pee. And after the flurry of ads, (yes, there were many, remember, it was between overs), it wasn’t as if they didn’t show the replays.
Just to rub it in, Ten Sports replayed KL Rahul go down the wicket to Roston Chase, smash him for six, raise his bat, hug his mate. There was nothing new. No push-ups, no army salute, nothing missed, really.
40 overs later, KL Rahul got out. Even fewer people, if any, were awake in India, to see him raise his bat and return to the pavilion. Chances are, the few that were up, would’ve been treated to a four-course breakfast of advertisements.
Of course, it’s wrong to blame the ads entirely. The West Indies have done their bit to make this series what it is: An endorsement for "early to bed, early to..." If that sounds abrupt it’s only because we had to cut for an ad break.
Ten commandments of broadcasting:
The ad is always right
The ad comes first
Once you add your ads, you’ll be left with nothing to subtract
Most cricket viewers smell bad and need scent
Most cricket viewers need a regional mobile, preferably Punjabi
Two ads in the wrong place make one right
Ad, ad, ad till you succeed
Most cricket viewers are 24x7 shopping channel junkies