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Tony Cozier has been at the cricket for half a century now. In The Indian Express, he speaks to Bharat Sundaresan about his career, his issues with Brian Lara, the indiscipline in West Indies cricket and also his short-lived stint as an IPL commentator.
England 2000 was the most miserable tour. The discipline was gone and they had lost all five in South Africa. Having won the first Test in England, they were crushed in two days (in the second) and still the boys went to watch Dwight Yorke play for Manchester United. West Indies cricket had reached irrelevancy. Nobody wanted to play them anymore. Then four years ago, I was told that I would be taken off the commentary team if I didn't tone down my criticism of the board.
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.
Rob Bagchi, in the Observer, pays tribute to two commentators who died within a week following illustrious careers behind the microphone.
The two adopted sons of Sussex represented best the contrasting models of commentary when the art diversified following the birth of World Series Cricket in 1977 and a defeated "establishment" handed Kerry Packer broadcasting rights to international matches in Australia as his victory spoils two years later.
In the Guardian Mike Selvey has a touching tribute for Christopher Martin-Jenkins, the cricket commentator, journalist and former MCC president, who died at the age of 67 on Tuesday
Angus Fraser pays tribute in the Independent.
Maybe it was because CMJ had a bit of the mad professor about him. His notorious difficulties with technology revealed that and my favourite anecdote came on a tour when, after a commentary stint, he tried repeatedly to phone his newspaper office using the TV remote control he had mistakenly picked up off his hotel bed.
Stephen Brenkley remembers CMJ, in the same newspaper.
CMJ's encyclopaedic knowledge, crisp voice, and perfect timing stood out, says Mike Dickson in the Daily Mail.
Scyld Berry, in the Daily Telegraph, says CMJ was the best ball-by-ball commentator that BBC's Test Match Special has had in the generation since John Arlott, and arguably the best anywhere, in any language.
The Daily Telegraph also has a collection of images capturing CMJ's life and times as a commentator and journalist.
Suhit Kelkar, writing in the Open Magazine, talks about the cult of the commentators' curse - the superstitious belief that prophesies and early judgments made my a commentator during play ultimately embarrass them. He cites various examples and tries to identify its origin.
No one knows the birth date of the Commentator's Curse, and it doesn't appear that any commentator wants to remember the birth year either. But soon after man used a stone as a hammer, the first thumb-crushing accident must have taken place. By that reckoning, the Curse has been around since the early days of radio commentary. What is known for a fact is that the term originated among BBC staffers.
A dispute over broadcasting payments has meant that Sky, the broadcasters of the India-England series in England, has a commentary team in a studio in London, as opposed to in India. An editorial in the Guardian says television viewers must be given the option of watching a match without commentary.
Most people who actually attend sports - not just cricket but football, rugby, tennis and the rest - manage to view the action in real time without the need for any commentary at all. So why don't the broadcasters give the viewers at home the same authentic experience? Muting the sound is not a satisfactory option, since it gets rid of the atmospheric ambient noise of the crowd as well as the commentary. Since few will want to watch their cricket or football in total silence, sports broadcasters should give television viewers the option of a viewing experience that retains the crowd noise but is wholly commentary free
The Age compiles a list of what one can learn while listening to a Test match on the radio.
That the pitch at the Brisbane Test was either exactly the same or completely different to one that Australia played England on about seven years ago. Also, that it is somehow possible for one affably minded broadcaster to agree with both points of view simultaneously. That an erroneous decision made under the video review system was not the fault of the third umpire, who was somehow forced to ignore the recorded evidence in front of his face and support the earlier decision made by the traditional ump, for whatever reason.
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."
Tony Greig, who has been a regular commentator for Channel Nine for 24 years, had a crisp style of delivering the pitch report, with the help of his car keys and later a pen. He won't be part of this season's commentary team as he has been diagnosed with cancer, and Ian Chappell says in the Daily Telegraph that it won't be the same without him.
The keys were later traded in for a biro pen after Greigy lost the key to Room 210 of a Perth hotel deep in the WACA wicket. To this day, the room key remains buried. The first Test at the Gabba have been tough for the Channel 9 team, as their old mate battles lung cancer.
Asked how he felt about Greig being absent from the Gabba, Chappell paused. "It's like when we were playing and a player was dropped or injured, it's a shock to all of a sudden not have them there," Chappell said.
Five decades in the commentary box and does Richie Benaud still get nervous? Yes, says Benaud as he tells reporter Christine Sams in the Sydney Morning Herald about his life as a commentator.
For me, commentating is wonderful because of the way cricket technology has evolved over the years. Most of all that is to do with the brilliance of the cameras, and those who stand behind them, plus the director who shapes the story. The best at those I have seen anywhere in the television world is Channel Nine's Rob Sheerlock whose voice in my ear, counting down from 10 to zero, is one of the greatest confidence boosts I know. A few things I try to remember run along the lines of 'never ask a statement', 'remember the value of the pause', and there are no teams in the TV world called 'we' or 'they'. Only little things, but I believe they make a difference.