NOVEMBER 12, 2014

The cons of miking up players

Michael Jeh: Getting players to commentate on their strategies from the field could invite mischief and corruption
Given the kinds of questions put to them by commentators on air, how can players be expected to understand why they are asked to steer clear of entertaining requests for information off the field? © Cricket Australia
OCTOBER 19, 2014


Has cricket hit the roof?

Cricket's dominance in India might not be fading just yet, but the team's performance has not been as compelling as the last decade and high-profile retirements since have also had an impact on viewership. Ashok Malik, in Asian Age, wonders if a saturation has been reached, especially with other sports enticing the average fan.

Cricket viewership, even Indian Premier League viewership, is not growing. It has either reached a ceiling (IPL) or a floor (Test cricket). Even limited-overs cricket (the Fifty50) game, the mainstay of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), is showing a worrying pattern. On-ground presence is lower than previously. The BCCI is masking it by hosting matches mainly in smaller cities and towns, where the novelty may still be there. As for television, a comparison between the India-West Indies limited-overs series of 2011 and 2013 would be telling. Both series were played in India. The first was played in the aftermath of India's World Cup victory and showed a TRP of 3.4 (male/15-34/Sec A, B and C). By the 2013 series, the TRP number had fallen to 2.2. TRP figures for the just-concluded (October 2014) India-West Indies series were not immediately available.

OCTOBER 17, 2014

Jim Maxwell: Radio commentary's tireless doyen

Russell Jackson: Having graced the airwaves for more than four decades, he is a broadcasting institution on par with Benaud, despite not having played at senior level
OCTOBER 12, 2014

The visceral beauty of fandom

Kartikeya Date: It is the fans' money and attention, and the players' skills and efforts that are indispensable to sport. Investors and broadcasters merely market the show
JULY 16, 2014

Decision Review System

Hawkeye sceptic turns Hawkeye advocate

Mike Selvey travels to Basingstoke to meet Steve Carter, the managing director of Hawk-Eye Innovations. Following a demonstration of Hawkeye, Selvey writes in the Guardian that his doubts over the technology have vanished. He maintains, however, that the implementation of the Decision Review System remains far from perfect.

I was shown one further thing. A split screen showed an empty indoor net and two deliveries from a leg-spinner. Each pitched and turned from leg to off, and the picture was then frozen at the point of what would have been impact with a pad in a neutral position. One was striking at about half-stump height, the other maybe two-thirds high. What did I think happened next ?

The first, I suggested, would probably be deemed hitting near the top of the stumps and the second clearing, but I suspected that they were in fact the same delivery filmed from a different height. This was indeed the case, and it showed how wrong we can be when we look incredulous when a ball we think is clearly going to hit is shown to be clearing them by a distance: both were hitting. The perspective is entirely contingent on the height of the camera behind the arm, the lower the camera the better. An ideal one would be in the top of the middle stump at either end.

JULY 05, 2014

Commentary boxes need succession plans too

Russell Jackson: Channel Nine should work to maintain the standards that its best broadcasters - Benaud and Chappell - have set, rather than encourage a frat-house environment
JULY 03, 2014

Cricket Commentary

Commentary without context

Mukul Kesavan, in India's Telegraph, wonders about the value added by cricket commentary in recent times. He cites some of the arguments by the Sky Sports team during the Headingley Test between Sri Lanka and England had spurned context and also adds that listening to their Indian counterparts is mundane and pre-programmed.

Do television commentators do any homework? Are they interested in the individuals in the middle or are the players they describe just interchangeable names on some Platonic team sheet? Virtually every commentator in the world is now a distinguished ex-cricketer; are these retired champions meant to embody totemic authority, to exude experience into a microphone, or should they pull information and insight together to tell us something that we can't see or don't know already?

MAY 27, 2014


Harsha Bhogle, the storyteller

Harsha Bhogle discusses the early influences that shaped his commentary, censorship, unsavoury trysts on twitter and physical attributes in television presenting. Arun Venugopal of the Hindu has more.

You will find very few networks on cricket broadcast actually taking on matters of this sensitivity. So, for example, you won't find anyone talking about why a Pakistan player shouldn't be in the IPL. [These are] very sensitive matters that you have got to be careful not to inflame. In my case, I am very clear that my job here is not to be an opinion-maker, but to be a storyteller. I believe I am an opinion-maker on Twitter, in my articles. But, I have never ever been told, 'You will not say this'. I have just been told, 'Let's not say something that might offend.' That was a long time ago. In recent times, I haven't been told that.

MAY 11, 2014

Why can't broadcasters clean up Indian cricket?

Subash Jayaraman: It's in sports television's long-term interest to ensure that the game is run well and free of scandal
APRIL 10, 2014

The problem with low catches

Kartikeya Date: The cricket cognoscenti is largely eager to give the fielder the benefit of the doubt when a catch is referred. This should not be the case
JANUARY 08, 2014

The Sunil-Rohan Gavaskar partnership

We've all heard or read about the pressure on famous cricketing sons to live up to their family names on the field. But what happens when a son finds himself in same commentary box as his famous father? If you happen to be Rohan Gavaskar, be ready for a bit of ribbing. Sitting in on his first television commentary stint with father Sunil, at the Ranji Trophy quarter-final between Mumbai and Maharashtra, Rohan was asked about his lack of Ranji titles - he played for Bengal, while his father used turn out for Ranji giants Bombay back in the day.

Speaking about the experience, Sunil joked: "For a change I could actually pull someone's legs and get away with it. Generally when I am doing it at the international level, my fellow commentator can come back at me. Over here that was the big plus. I started by saying that he has not been a part of the Ranji Trophy winning team, but thankfully he didn't come back to me saying he has scored more runs at Eden Gardens [Bengal's home ground] than I have."

Batting tips apart, Rohan also gets commentary advice from his father. "Sometimes we do talk about little things, like the things I have learnt from Richie Benaud and by observing other commentators," Sunil said. "I haven't heard much of him [commentating] because of my travels, but the feedback that I get, generally, has been pretty good. That is good to hear."

DECEMBER 25, 2013

Test cricket and the bitter truth

Andrew Hughes: We should be trying to make Test cricket as entertaining as possible and spreading the word to every corner of the globe. But we aren't
DECEMBER 16, 2013

Murder and mysterious cricket footage

Jonathan Wilson: The curious case of Test match footage used in a TV crime drama
OCTOBER 10, 2013

Cricket broadcasting

Banking on cricket's popularity

Star TV, the broadcaster in India, have spent $2.9 billion in buying broadcasting rights and now they have decided to venture into sponsorship rights as well. Surajeet Das Gupta, in the Business Standard, finds out why the broadcaster is pumping so much money into the game.

But the risks come with immense potential for growth for those who have the cash to stay put. To begin with, despite the criticism and fears, cricket constitutes over 10 per cent of the annual TV advertising pie (currently estimated at around Rs 14,000 crore), or Rs 1,400 crore, and in 2011, when IPL and the World Cup were held, it raked in over Rs 2,000 crore in revenues. Also unlike general entertainment channels (which draw 60 per cent of their revenues from advertising), subscription constitutes for over 60 per cent of a sports channel's revenue. So, more viewers mean more revenue through subscription.

OCTOBER 09, 2013

The no-commentary broadcast option

Subash Jayaraman: It's time to provide viewers with a choice, and perhaps force commentators to step up their game in the process
OCTOBER 03, 2013

Illegal streaming sites aren't the problem

Dave Hawksworth: Cricket boards must realise that they can't tame the internet. They are better off trying to figure out how to engage cricket's young online audience
JUNE 26, 2013

Indian cricket

The life and times of Dicky Rutnagur

Dicky Rutnagur, veteran journalist for Hindustan Times and the Daily Telegraph passed away on June 21. Tony Cozier in the Stabroek News reminisces about sharing a press box with "the voice, spoken and written, of Indian cricket through three decades"

I cherish a picture of the two of us in the Bangalore Test during the 1974-75 West Indies tour (later carried in Wisden), Dicky's face wreathed in the typically impish smile that signaled he was holding forth with some yarn or the other. He made friends, and admirers, easily. Wherever his career took him, he had the respect of cricketers of all generations. The tributes that have followed his death confirm that impression.

Raju Bharatan in the Hindu, describes why Rutnagur was good enough to cover over 300 Test matches.

He was to cricket what Zubin Mehta was to music. He conducted himself as the quintessential professional. Not for him the literary flourishes of a K.N. Prabhu or an N.S. Ramaswami. Dicky Rutnagur was first a reporter, only then an opinion moulder. His smooth narrative style held you spellbound. This was reflected in the absorption with which his Editorial Musings and his day-to-day account of Test matches were read -- months after the events took place.

Amit Roy in India's Telegraph paints the various facets of Rutnagur's life - the journalist, the man, the cricket lover and devout Zoroastrian.

One reason I wanted Dicky at the Lord's lunch on Friday was because of what he felt about the ground. I had asked him about the world's most beautiful cricketing venues when I had done a formal interview with Dicky in 2005. "Lord's, of course," he replied. "My hair still stands on end when I go through the Grace Gate (the main gate at Lord's) after all these years. It is a privilege to go to Lord's. I will wear my best clothes to go to Lord's always, even for a county match."

Rutnagur was as noted for his pranks as he was for his opinions on the game, writes R Mohan in Mid-day

A few may have suffered at the hands of the press box joker that he was reputed to be. You were not initiated into cricket journalism until you had been doused by his water pistol. Mercifully, he carried it in days when security was not the watchword it is, otherwise he may have had a tough time explaining what a gun was doing amidst the paraphernalia.

APRIL 11, 2013

Indian cricket

Tendulkar set for PITCH debut

Sachin Tendulkar has been on TV screens around the world for over two decades but he's now set to make his debut in animated form - as part of a new series called 'Master Blasters.' Tendulkar will travel the world in his "spaceship cum stadium", playing cricket matches with and against some of the best cricketing talent on offer. He even has his own arch rival, Peter, who looks to humiliate the hero at every turn.

In the series, Tendulkar is appointed by the Programme for International Training of Cricket Heroes (PITCH) to run a training camp for the finest young cricketers around the world. Tendulkar will feature along with an assortment of twelve kids, with the series promising elements of comedy, life coaching, and of course, cricket. Tendulkar says he was a Superman fan in his youth; here's his chance to live yet another dream.

MARCH 05, 2013

Cricket between the ads

Mahesh Sethuraman: Watching cricket on TV in India is getting depressing because of the inexcusable and illegitimate plethora of intrusive advertisements in the cricket telecasts, with part-screen ads making it seem that there is a greater premium for infuriating the fans m
NOVEMBER 12, 2012


An elegy for Peter Roebuck

It has been a year since Peter Roebuck committed suicide in South Africa. A fan from Australia, Benjamin Golby, has written a song to mark the anniversary. "In Memoriam - P.M.R" is not an attempt at obituary for Peter Roebuck," said Golby, who is taking his Honours in Composition in Melbourne, having studied Music at the University of Western Australia. "Rather, it is a response to Mr Roebuck's death. This is what distinguishes an elegy from eulogy, in that an elegy is a personal lament rather than a detailing of its subject's qualities."

Golby wrote the song after attending a memorial service for Roebuck in Melbourne six weeks after the writer's death. "I had found Mr Roebuck's death difficult to comprehend and, when attempting to discuss it with friends, felt unable to express the confusion I felt regarding it."

In the song, Golby writes:

"Learnt of your death early on a Sunday morning hungover and consumed with my own complaints Soon after, my father telephoned touchingly to check I was okay, making sad warning Beside myself I had trotted down to the nearby oval, where I found solace watching the park cricketers"

"I feel like a charlatan saying this as a person who was personally unacquainted with Mr Roebuck but I felt the loss severely and still find it very troubling," Golby said. "I thought that this was an overreaction and was ashamed by my response until I realised that a great many others feel the same. His is not merely the case in Australia, where many felt a personal connection with Mr Roebuck through his commentary work on the ABC and the Fairfax papers. The English novelist Howard Jacobson expresses something similar in the opening paragraph of an article he wrote on the subject in the Independent.

"I assume that what is being expressed is not so much personal loss but that some dearly held idea or conviction, espoused by that person or achieving essence in them, is now lost. Fortunately ideas do not die with individuals. As has been expressed in many of the tributes written, Peter Roebuck's most significant contributions, excellence in cricket journalism and that cricket should be placed in the context of greater social and political issues, will abide."