Four commentators sitting at their homes in India, one locking himself in a room so that his son doesn’t disturb, did live commentary for a game taking place in South Africa. In the Covid-19-triggered new normal, Irfan Pathan was in Vadodara, Deep Dasgupta in Kolkata, Sanjay Manjrekar in Mumbai, and Jatin Sapru pitched in from Delhi as Star Sports did a trial run of the first-ever ‘work from home’ broadcast of live sports.
The three former India cricketers, along with anchor Sapru, called the 3TC Solidarity Cup from Centurion in South African in Hindi. Adding to the logistical nightmare was the location of producers and technical director, who were based in Mysore and Mumbai respectively. The commentators were provided a live streaming link and asked to describe the game taking place in another continent.
Pathan encountered an added degree of difficulty. He had to contend with his son repeatedly knocking on the door. “During the break, I stepped out of the room to eat and my child saw me, he screamed ‘Daddy hasn’t gone out, he is at home’. He kept knocking on the door. I told my wife to manage. He just wanted to sit with me. I hope the noise of him knocking on the door wasn’t picked up on air,” Pathan tells The Indian Express.
The former India all-rounder says he turned his sister’s room into a commentary booth as most of the others were occupied by his family members. The lockdown has meant the children were playing indoors and he told his son that he was going out to work for a few hours. He joked that the world might have to get used to his son sitting beside him next time he goes on air.
The house of Dasgupta, the former India wicketkeeper- batsman, was redone as he dedicated a room for his TV commitments. He bought stands to keep his camera still, and other electronic devices and lights to make it look as professional as possible. With limited means and support, the commentators had to multitask. Dasgupta says he did the scoring for the game as there was no scorer or technology support to tell him who was batting and bowling.
“I scored on a paper as there was no scorer. I did it myself. When you are in a studio or the ground, we have a machine which shows who is batting and who is bowling. And someone continually provides us with statistics,” Dasgupta said.
With limited technology, Pathan said the team did extraordinary work in extraordinary times. In a ‘normal’ situation, the broadcasters have a commentary unit at the ground or the studio. Having different commentators expressing their comments on the game from different cities is a new phenomenon.
Pathan explains that continuity is a big challenge. “Once you do commentary from the studio or from the ground, we know when our fellow commentator is about to finish and from there I can continue. But here, we didn’t know whether the guy sitting in Kolkata had completed his views or not,” he said.
Dasgupta too shared a similar problem. “Fear of an overlap is there. Sometimes I feel that the other guy has completed but that’s not the case. It’s because of an internet issue I couldn’t hear his voice but actually he hasn’t completed it. So overlapping happens and it did happen,” Dasgupta said.
“It was a great experiment,” Pathan says. “The main concern was the functioning of the internet. I was worried whether it would work normally or not. Luckily things went well. We did a trial a day before and everything looked good,” he said.
There are other adjustments that they had to make. Like waiting for the feed to show whether the ball has travelled beyond the boundary or not. “I go by instinct and gut feel to make a judgement whether the ball has travelled for a six or not as I am not at the ground to see it. The best thing is to wait for the camera to show and talk about it only after you get the clear picture.”
Dasgupta said he now obsesses about bandwidth speeds and data backups, something he had rarely fussed about earlier. “I have to adjust and be ready. I can’t travel as Kolkata doesn’t have any flights connecting to other big cities at the moment. I was very far away from technology but now everything runs on it and I have to be ready,” he says.
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