Commentary

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
Commentators need to strike a balance between talking to the uninitiated and to the diehards, who think they have seen and heard it all © Getty Images
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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?

FEBRUARY 06, 2014

When cricket crackled

Sankaran Krishna: Listening to radio commentary required you to construct an image from the words you heard and create a rich movie of the match in your mind's eye
JANUARY 24, 2014

Cricket commentary for those without sensible trousers

Paul Ford: A new venture in New Zealand aims to put talk of Linda Hamilton, parmesan and cocktail hour alongside cricket chat
JANUARY 16, 2014

Pakistan news

Qamar Ahmed's special quadruple

Sunil Gavaskar's 10,000th run, Richard Hadlee's 400th wicket, Anil Kumble's cleansweep, cricket's 1000th Test in 1984 and its 2000th in 2011 - Qamar Ahmed; has seen them all. The Sharjah Test; between Pakistan and Sri Lanka is his 400th as a reporter, and he has been present at 19% of all Tests played to date.

His favourite is Gavaskar's last innings, a 96 in a losing cause against Pakistan in Bangalore, memorable because even spinners had the ball rearing chest-high on a poor pitch. Michael Holding's furious 14-wicket haul at The Oval in 1976 is Qamar's bowling equivalent.

A first-class left-arm spinner in Pakistan in his youth, Qamar was based out of the UK for most of his reporting career. In addition to having written extensively in English, Urdu and Hindi, he has also been a broadcaster for Test Match Special, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Television New Zealand, among others.

The press in Sharjah missed the chance to perform a guard of honour with their laptops, but the PCB and Pakistan team presented Qamar with mementoes and two signed Test shirts, wishing him many more matches in the press box. It is a sentiment Qamar agrees with heartily - he said: "I am not retiring as long as I'm on my feet."

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

In praise of voices of experience

Jon Hotten: Men like Geoffrey Boycott and Ted Dexter, who are still keen to be part of the cricket debate, part of the life of the game, are always worth listening to
NOVEMBER 06, 2013

Ignorance is the worst crime in commentary

Raf Nicholson: And you get plenty of it in women's cricket these days. Why must we listen to those who have little knowledge of the players and care less?
NOVEMBER 02, 2013

Danny Morrison! Boom!

Andrew Hughes: Bangladesh did well to beat New Zealand, but the star of the day sat in the commentary box
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
SEPTEMBER 27, 2013

What do they know of cliches...

Russell Jackson: Cricket clich├ęs find their most obvious and oft-parodied home in commentary boxes but we're all guilty of them from time to time
JULY 14, 2013

West Indies

'Lara wasn't good for West Indies cricket'

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.

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.

JUNE 17, 2013

The radio years

Krishna Kumar: Cricket commentary never felt better than it did on radio - particularly short wave
FEBRUARY 10, 2013

Nick Knight and the 'Lovely Eoin fan club'

Andrew Hughes: And why New Zealand commentary is so understated
JANUARY 06, 2013

Commentary

CMJ and Tony Greig: Contrasting voices that exuded integrity

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.

JANUARY 02, 2013

Commentary

CMJ: A traditionalist with a hint of mischief about him

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.

DECEMBER 25, 2012

Commentary

The cult of the commentators' curse

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.

DECEMBER 22, 2012

The international cricket apprenticeship scheme

Andrew Hughes: Is it working as well as it should? Ajinkya Rahane may disagree
NOVEMBER 17, 2012

Commentary

Unthinkable? Televised sport without commentary

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.

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