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?

JUNE 12, 2014

There's a new columnist in town

Jon Hotten: Kevin Pietersen has both reach and voice, and he has a cause to unite around too
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.

FEBRUARY 27, 2014

Does the media think fans are fools?

Michael Jeh: Why does television seem to think that cricket followers only want to know about their team when it is winning?
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 15, 2014

Brett Lee v Piers Morgan? Not cricket

Michael Jeh: Is there any thrill in watching one of the world's fastest bowlers bowl illegal deliveries aimed at the body of an annoying talk-show host with zero batting skills?
JANUARY 14, 2014

Australia's Ashes win: a blast from the past

Ahmer Naqvi: The 5-0 result was the ultimate validation of the impulse towards an idealised notion of Australian cricket
DECEMBER 27, 2013

Why we'll miss Swann

Dave Hawksworth: Not just a fine and match-winning bowler, he could also be relied on for a wry smile, a joke, and a willingness to go left-field when answering a question
DECEMBER 26, 2013

When an editor ate his words

Samir Chopra: India's World Cup victory in 1983 prompted some unforgettable banter between their manager and a magazine editor
DECEMBER 18, 2013

Where now for England?

The post-mortem into England's Ashes drubbing is well underway both within the team and the media. Build for the future? Try and win the next two Tests? Time to drop some senior players? What is Andy Flower's future. All issues up for debate. In the Guardian, Mike Selvey says that while wholesale changes are not the answer now is the time to start planning for the next Ashes in 2015.

Flower will need to make a rapid assessment of which players he believes will be around and in a position to form the nucleus of the squad in 2015. These might include, from the Perth XI Cook, Joe Root, Ian Bell, Stokes, and Stuart Broad, perhaps with the addition of Anderson still, and Bresnan. Michael Carberry probably not. How Kevin Pietersen fits into this is hard to gauge but if his ambition is still there then so should he be.

Andy Bull, in his Spin column, reflects on the similarities with 2006-07 both on the field and in terms of some of the over-reaction

Then, as now, England did not know their best XI when they arrived in Australia but then, given the injuries they had suffered, they had more excuse for the confusion. Now, as then, they made mistakes with their selections, although none so grievous as the decision to leave out Panesar and pick Giles. Picking three tall fast bowlers, Boyd Rankin, Chris Tremlett and Steven Finn, could yet become as infamous a decision, unless in the last two Tests the trio combine for more than the four wickets Tremlett has taken so far. Do that, though, and the question will be why, one game aside, one or the other or the third did not play when the series was still at stake.

Over in the Daily Mail, Martin Samuels says the England set-up need to take a hard look at themselves but also need to take leaf out of Australia's book and not pension off too many players just yet

Meanwhile, across the corridor, the inquest began. Whither Alastair Cook and Andy Flower, Kevin Pietersen and Matt Prior, James Anderson and Graeme Swann. It was the end of an era of English domination in this finest of sporting contests, and some will argue the end of England, too. Certainly, this England. Yet what if Australia had thought the same way? What if men like Siddle, Haddin and Watson had been discarded in disgust, too, at some point in their sorry trot. It is not as if the margins of defeat were tiny in what English cricket may come to regard as the good old days: 197 runs to lose the 2009 series, an innings and 71, an innings and 157, an innings and 83 on the 2010-11 tour, 347 runs at Lord's last summer. Australia, your boys took one hell of a beating.

Plenty of people are having their say on England's position, including the Daily Telegraph's political correspondent Peter Oborne who says Alastair Cook must go.

Alastair Cook should step down as skipper. It's clear after England's dreadful and humiliating performance that he is not suited for the captaincy. Anybody listening to his media interviews over the last few weeks can tell that he lacks leadership qualities. More importantly, Cook has lost form dreadfully since becoming captain, and this matters. Cook is probably England's best batsman since Peter May 60 years ago. If he had not been captain it is almost certain that Cook would have put it the big scores that would have saved us from defeat. The England team desperately needs Cook's batting.

DECEMBER 04, 2013

Press conferences? Spare us

Andrew Hughes: Enough of young men in baseball caps boringly answering questions that shouldn't have been asked
NOVEMBER 22, 2013

When petulant jingoism is mistaken for news

Michael Jeh: A Brisbane newspaper's campaign to vilify Stuart Broad has backfired spectacularly, and deservedly, as it wrongly portrays Australian fans as churlish and immature
AUGUST 16, 2013

Australian cricket

The forgotten case of Rex Sellers

Scyld Berry calling Usman Khawaja's selection to the Test side as Australia's experiment with their Asian immigrant population has received widespread opposition. Though Australia are not as well known as other countries for their cricketers having alien roots, Russell Jackson, in a Guardian blog points out a few examples Berry seemed to have overlooked.

He would also know that Rex Sellers, a British passport-holding, Indian-born leg-spinner who played Test cricket for Australia prompted no small measure of angst within the English cricketing press when chosen in the Australian Ashes squad of 1964. In response, the cricket-loving prime minister Robert Menzies fast-tracked Sellers's citizenship at a rate that, all these years later, makes Fawad Ahmed's blessing from the Gillard government look like a glacial drift

AUGUST 07, 2013

Indian cricket

Breaking ground: uncovering the path of women journalists

Subash Jayaraman caught up with Sharda Ugra, senior editor at ESPNcricinfo, to discuss the life of women in sports journalism, the challenges they face in a male-dominated environment, the impact of sexism and the changes in the industry over the years in the Cricket Couch

There was a discussion. At one point, I was joking to someone "Listen, I am going to tell the TV channel at the start of every season that let me coach these girls and I will teach them that this is how you ask questions. It is very easy. Just make sure you pay me like a really good stipend or whatever it is called. I will coach them. You get me any two girls, and I will teach them how to ask questions on television about cricket." And my friend looks at me and says, "You are a really sad person. Do you think that is what these girls are for?" and I replied, "Sorry. I forgot that." That is not what they are there for in the first place.

AUGUST 07, 2013

Mind the criticism, please

Krishna Kumar: Why do we insist on castigating cricketers - particularly batsmen - as careless, lazy or lacking strength of character?
JULY 25, 2013

The best cricket periodical ever

Samir Chopra: From 1978 to 1983, the World Cricket Digest, published out of Sydney, offered fans of cricket and cricket writing an invaluable service
JULY 23, 2013

The fan who became a pressman

Subash Jayaraman: A lifelong fan crosses over to the neutral side and quite enjoys the experience (while stifling his cheers)
JUNE 25, 2013

CMJ and a lesson in reporting on cricket

Jonathan Wilson: His book on England's victorious tour of Australia in 1986-87 entertained a ten-year-old and taught him the value of writing on just the sport
JUNE 17, 2013

The radio years

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

The IPL can learn from other sports leagues

Ramakanth Josyula : From season tickets to merchandise, there are many ideas that the IPL can adopt to increase the spectator presence in stadiums