February 6, 2010

Commentary

Neuroscience insights from the G

Andrew Hughes


If Warner had cleared the G's gargantuan stands, he would have missed the fielder © Getty Images
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Gosh that was a good game, as Mark Nicholas would say. Perhaps I’m getting older, but Twenty20 seems to be a lot faster than it used to be. On Friday, fielders swooped, bowlers marched back to their run-ups and new batsmen fairly leapt up out of their white plastic chairs. The game whizzed by so quickly that I almost longed for a strategy break, just so I could gather my thoughts. Almost.

The G (I understand there are other Gs, but this apparently is The G) remains utterly enormous. When the camera drew back to capture the stadium’s full height, I felt my vertigo coming on. There are other gargantuan grounds in the world, of course, but I have not seen a better Twenty20 venue. It’s a spaceship, a cavernous superstructure designed to concentrate sound, colour and light.

It also includes a small room fitted with microphones, via which several men take it in turns to tell us what we are looking at and what we have just seen. On Friday, I was introduced to a man by the name of James Brayshaw. Besides being a cricket expert, it turns out that he is fully up to speed on recent breakthroughs in the field of neuroscience. Earlier this week, scientists communicated with a man by monitoring his brainwaves. Brayshaw was keen to apply this new knowledge.

“David Warner, let’s have a look at his mindset.”

That got my attention. This should be good, I thought. Never mind Snicko, Hawkeye and Hotspot, those clever chaps in the Channel Nine laboratory have come up with a device to enable us to see the inner workings of a batsman’s brain. Unfortunately, Professor Brayshaw didn’t elaborate and so I can only assume that the mindset monitor is at an early stage of development, like the UDRS system.

Anyway, the neuroscience was just a bonus. These custodians of the commentary booth have a noble calling. They have played the game at the highest level and are duty bound to share with us their analysis, to enrich our cricket experience with their insight. Take this piece of wisdom from the man known as Slats, summing up Warner’s dismissal, caught, as is his wont, whilst trying to land the ball on the moon: “If it was higher, it would have gone over the fielder’s head,” our man revealed.

You can’t argue with that. Let’s hope Slats manages to pass his advice onto the tiny opener. Remember, David, if you’re reading this, next time don’t hit it straight to the guy, hit it over his head. Then he can’t catch it, see.

Of course, you don’t need me to tell you that Pakistan could have won. Again. They are like an experimental theatre group, re-enacting all of Shakespeare’s tragedies through the medium of bat and ball. You know it is going to end horribly, particularly if things appear to be going well. You know too, that, like the best tragedies, the outcome is an inevitable result of the flaws of the protagonists. 28 to win off 30 balls. Surely they can’t lose it from here? Oh, they can. Wow, as Mark Nicholas might say.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Keywords: Commentary

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Posted by Alastor on (February 12, 2010, 15:31 GMT)

You forgot one new and painfully annoying thing about the Channel 9 commentary team, Andrew. The clumsy use of brand names and mentioning of the aforesaid network's shows. Drinks breaks are no longer merely drinks breaks, they are an opportunity for 'the players to rehydrate with Gatorade'. We see someone in the crowd eating an ice cream and Tony Greig says "Oh, I love those Calippos". And hearing our former test captain and test opener flogging "the new season of Two and a Half Men, 7.30pm Monday" almost brings a tear to my eye. Tonight Slats used the rain falling at the SCG as an opportunity to make a reference to Channel 9's Winter Olympics coverage. Not to mention Tony Greig calls Cameron White 'Craig' six times every match. Who the hell is this 'Craig' White? I'd like to propose a mobile international commentary team that includes Mark 'Rigor' Richardson, Jackers, Bumble, Harsha and for a bit of new blood Shaun Pollock, Allan Donald and a small amount of Shane Warne

Posted by dave on (February 8, 2010, 13:46 GMT)

pravski: if you want alternative commentary try turning the volume on the tv down and turning on the radio. I find that the ABC's radio coverage usually gives good description and analysis and occasionally an interesting and/or amusing anecdote or two!! I'm not trying to say it's perfect, but just that it is possible to escape the bland banality of Ch 9's commentators even if you must stay with the shameless self-promotion and pathetic cross-advertising the "commentators" we now have to endure.

Posted by Mick on (February 7, 2010, 0:37 GMT)

I only watched the 2nd half of the game, and after 5 overs the commentary swapped from Brayshaw, Slats & Heals to Warne, Tubbs & Lawry and I let out an audible sigh of relief. The first 3 seemed to be treating it as a medium for a competition for how many synonyms they could come up with for the word big (huge, massive gigantic seemed popular), where as the second 3 treated it like a cricket match. I hope channel 9 wave a lot of cash in Warne's direction, he is the only new comentator that is bearable. I also think Tubby seems to adjust his commentary to whoever he is in the box with at the time, making him vary between awful & quite good.

Posted by Chuck Sportage on (February 6, 2010, 23:46 GMT)

For mine different rules apply when it comes to twenty20 coverage and commentary. For the most part the demographic that sits through every session of a 5-day test and the one thats flicks over to watch a twenty20 of an evening are entirely different. And for the latter I think a younger, more excitable team is ideal. I've found James Brayshaw fantastically entertaining and funny and the fact that they bring out half-witted comments every now and then just adds to the entertainment value of the whole thing.

Posted by joeyinoz on (February 6, 2010, 22:19 GMT)

C'mon guys. I was watching some cricket highlights from a match in 1983 on youtube the other day. And who was commentating? Benaud, Chappelli, Greig and Laury. It is time they left. Give Brayshaw a break. His comment the other night about the bearded guy from The Hangover taking a catch in the crowd was priceless. Ch Nine's new, but much needed, 'youthful' comm team still needs a little time, especially to adjust to the frenetic pace of T20. Give 'em a go, they are not that bad.

Posted by ram on (February 6, 2010, 20:32 GMT)

commentary was pathetic as usual. Best commentary would be Ian chappell, Tony Grieg, Boycott, Harsha , Ravi Shastri, Wasim Akram, Tony Cozier, Sunny

Posted by jamshed on (February 6, 2010, 12:54 GMT)

The one good thing about twenty twenty is that is over quickly.Results don't really matter.I'm not keen on bowlers running in from two paces and batsmen all kinds of ridiculous shots.

Posted by Sohaib Alvi on (February 6, 2010, 12:13 GMT)

I missed Ian Chappel too. And Shane Warne has been very analytic. This set was just too sarcastic for me, more like the 3 stooges, though our guys did everything on this tour to invite what came at them from the box.

I miss the days of Alan McGilvray as I heard him over the static filled airwaves in the bitter cold of early morning in Pakistan. Of late Jim Maxwell. I once was in the same car as him as we drove for a WC match in South Africa. He was reporting back home live on his cell phone as we carved through the clogged traffic on way to Centurion. Suddenly he saw the Australian team bus trying to get to the ground fast. I will never forget how he reported on the bus making it through the traffic as if he was reporting on the derby as the horses came over the final bend.

Yeah, you need those types of guys who can make your hair rise on even the most ordinary moments.

I'd rather listen to the game through their radio commentary than watch it with Slats, Mark & Ian.

Posted by Valey on (February 6, 2010, 11:30 GMT)

I had no idea James Brayshaw was being heard anywhere in the world apart from here - as an Australian I sincerely apologise. Believe me, we don't want him commentating either - the stuff he says is always utter nonsence.

Posted by pravski on (February 6, 2010, 10:15 GMT)

Thank you Andrew for drawing attention to the plight of the Australian cricket TV audience. We love our game, but despise those who voice it. Brayshaw is an abomination, he never came close to representing Australia so what is his credibility? Slater and Healy are awful. Awful. Chappeli and Tony Greig seem to have disappeared. Please, is there anybody out there who can supply us with alternative TV commentary, hopefully in time for next summer.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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