Broadcasting in the English summer

Channel 4 cop out after Reeve's departure

After five years as a Channel 4 summariser, Dermot Reeve has decided to call it a day

Andrew Miller

May 20, 2005

Text size: A | A



Dermot Reeve: more play, less commentary in prospect © Getty Images
Enlarge

There'll be no more Imran Khan impressions to enliven the rain breaks. No more baiting of the uber-geek, Simon Hughes, as he sits, sardine-like, inside his analyst's pod. And no more bleary-eyed stumbling to the mike, several hours' late after another busy night on the tiles. After five years as a Channel 4 summariser, Dermot Reeve has decided to call it a day.

Reeve had no comment to make in the immediate aftermath of his departure, but in his playing days, he was one of the most innovative captains the game has known. As an irrepressibly inventive medium-pace bowler and a hard-hitting lower middle-order batsman, he guided Warwickshire to unprecedented success in the early 1990s, as well as playing in three Tests and 29 one-day internationals, including the World Cup final against Pakistan in 1991-92.

His commentary style was equally off-the-cuff and abrasive. He was by no means the star turn of an impressively varied Channel 4 team, but he more than held his own alongside the likes of Richie Benaud, Geoff Boycott and Mike Atherton, even if his timekeeping wasn't everything it might have been. In 2004, he was disciplined by his employers for a particularly late arrival at the Lord's Test against New Zealand, and was suspended from the commentary team for the second Test at Headingley.

Perhaps thinking that they need to restore some order following the loss of this maverick, Channel 4 have gone to the opposite extreme. For the opening Test of the summer, Reeve's shoes will be filled by the immaculately turned-out and impeccably credentialled former England captain, Alec Stewart. Punctuality's gain, it seems, will be spontaneity's loss.

Stewart, for all that he is English cricket's most-capped player of all time, is not a man renowned for the bon mot. Since retirement, he has been pressing the flesh in a specially created role at his beloved Surrey: "Director of New Business", which is a job description that conjures up images of Jim Hacker's Minister for Administrative Affairs

This is Channel 4's final summer of cricket before Sky swallows up every broadcasting right available, and this appointment is not an auspicious start. Given that Stewart, in September 2003, could barely contain his glee at retiring from Test cricket before being subjected to a tour of Bangladesh - "Ask me again next month" he said at his final press call, "when you're all in Dhaka and I'm in Rome, watching Chelsea playing Lazio!" - it is unlikely that he will be brimful of insight when play gets underway.

In their six years of broadcasting Test cricket, Channel 4 have until now put their emphasis on excellence, rather than relying on big names to reel out the same old banalities. But that's not going to be the case for much longer. Stewart's last Test series as captain - the 1998-99 Ashes - led him to utter such gems as "I'd rather be one-down than two-down", and "I'm all up for keeping nought in the loss column for as long as possible". Stirring stuff indeed. One can but weep for the sad fading of a proud era of domestic broadcasting.

Andrew Miller is assistant editor of Cricinfo

RSS Feeds: Andrew Miller

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

FeedbackTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
Andrew MillerClose
Andrew Miller Andrew Miller was saved from a life of drudgery in the City when his car caught fire on the way to an interview. He took this as a sign and fled to Pakistan where he witnessed England's historic victory in the twilight at Karachi (or thought he did, at any rate - it was too dark to tell). He then joined Wisden Online in 2001, and soon graduated from put-upon photocopier to a writer with a penchant for comment and cricket on the subcontinent. In addition to Pakistan, he has covered England tours in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007
Related Links
Players/Officials: Dermot Reeve | Alec Stewart
Teams: England

    Boycott floored by an Indian trundler

Rewind: When Eknath Solkar got under the skin of Geoff Boycott, leading to a three-year self-imposed exile from Test cricket

    KP in précis

Review: Using secondary sources, a newspaper journalist tries to decipher Kevin Pietersen and his career beyond the prima donna stereotype

    If you're drunk enough, you're good enough

Dave Podmore: Let us now reflect on Lord's and look ahead to the next Test

    'As you get older, you come to appreciate the tough times'

Jimmy Adams talks about the West Indian love for fast bowling, batting with Lara, and living a dream for nine years

Test streaks: 52 and 27 matches long

Anantha Narayanan: A look at the best batting and bowling streaks in Tests

News | Features Last 7 days

Ridiculed Ishant ridicules England

Ishant Sharma has often been the butt of jokes, and sometimes deservedly so. Today, however, the joke was on England

Vijay rediscovers the old Monk

The leave outside off stump has been critical to M Vijay's success since his India comeback last year. Contrary to popular opinion, such patience and self-denial comes naturally to him

England seem to have forgotten about personality

They have to see a glass that is half-full, and play the game as if it is just that, a game; and an opportunity

Bhuvneshwar on course for super series

Only 15 times in Test history has a player achieved the double of 300 runs and 20 wickets in a Test series. Going on current form, Bhuvneshwar could well be the 16th

Ishant's fourth-innings heroics in rare company

In India's win at Lord's, Ishant Sharma took the best bowling figures by an Indian in the fourth innings of a Test outside Asia. Here are five other best bowling efforts by Indians in the fourth innings of Tests outside Asia

News | Features Last 7 days