June 13, 2008

Sold out

Just when and how was cricket commentary replaced by sales pitches and relentless hype?
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Fallen idols: Shastri and Gavaskar used to be among India's most respected commentators © Getty Images

What, someone joked during the IPL, is the difference between those dancing by the boundary downstairs and those in the commentary box upstairs? Only that those downstairs have nicer curves.

This is what it had come to. The brief for the men in the box was narrow - to make sure only one message got out: come what may, the IPL was God, Lalit Modi was Moses, and there wasn't a rest of it. To speak was to hype, but only if it came with the right sponsor. Each six was a "DLF maximum", each critical point in the game a "Citi moment of success". Ravi Shastri, Arun Lal, Ramiz Raja, Sunil Gavaskar and the rest didn't call matches, they sold brands, blindly promoting the IPL (and anything else that came their way).

This was commentary as PR, a sales pitch from battered, desperate salesmen searching for one last fool; commentary reduced to the sycophantic, fawning babble political spin-meisters and brand ambassadors are paid for. If ever commentary was measured, that heard during the IPL would rank as the nadir in cricket's broadcast history.

How did it come to this, particularly in the subcontinent, where radio commentary was once so revered and vital, where early commentators were as much stars as those they spoke of? Omar Kureishi, Bobby Talyarkhan, Jamshed Marker, Berry Sarbadhikari: these were men who didn't just narrate the day's play, they were men who spread the early gospel. For their successors to be reduced to such buttering up isn't just a decline, it is like the fall of a civilisation.

What Packer wrought
They were men of a kind we may never see again. Without changing the sport too much, Kerry Packer changed the game completely. Arguably as significant as the pay hikes, the coloured clothing, the lights and the glam was the way Packer's Channel 9 changed how the story of each match was told. "Channel 9 brought to its coverage the idea of superimposing a specific vision on events," says Gideon Haigh, the cricket historian and writer. "Before World Series Cricket the action dictated the coverage. The cameras were static and distant; replays were scarce, and seldom shown more than once. WSC introduced the idea of using the characters, the stories, their statistics and replay technology, to create a master narrative."

This new, grand theatre required suitably grand narrators: the revolution, after all, had to be hyped. Ex-players had forayed into broadcasting before this. The BBC had the ever-smooth Richie Benaud early, as well as Jim Laker and Fred Trueman. ABC TV had Keith Miller and Frank Tyson, and even in the subcontinent, Vijay Merchant and Hanif Mohammad were on radio.

 
 
Gradually it's been realised that the media runs cricket, that cricket owes everything to its electronic availability. The media now fancy they are entitled to be their own spectacle, to draw attention to their presence Gideon Haigh
 

But Channel 9 opened the floodgates. Tony Greig was the hypemaster, ably supported by Bill Lawry, as excitable in the box as dour as he was on the field. Benaud was the masterstroke, giving the whole thing a quiet, cream-suited credibility. The authoritative and abrasive Ian Chappell joined the team soon after WSC ended and a template was set. The world soon followed.

"TV commentators have become much more 'in your face' post-Kerry Packer," says one of the few current non-playing voices, Christopher Martin-Jenkins. "Hitherto on the BBC, people like Brian Johnston and Peter West had essentially been heard and not seen. Tony Greig drove the original trend for TV commentators to have the kind of banter familiar to radio listeners but originally eschewed by, for example, Richie Benaud, who was brought up to believe that you should speak only if you could add to the picture."

The very roles changed. Where once the ex-player had been the summariser, the expert or the "colour" man, he now became the commentator, the main voice. Non-playing voices were nudged out, ex-players brought in. It was obvious why, for the big sell was on.

The changing relationship between the broadcast media and sport, suggests Haigh, spurred the process on. "When radio and TV began covering cricket, it was with a sense of privilege and deference. They were honoured guests in the house of sport and remained low-key, polite. Gradually it's been realised that the media runs cricket, that cricket owes everything to its electronic availability. The media now fancy they are entitled to be their own spectacle, to draw attention to their presence rather than remain silent witnesses. The focus comes to fall on 'personalities', on big names, on creating a kind of sideshow.

"There was no place for them [broadcasters without playing backgrounds] amid the hyperbole and histrionics of this new gladiatorial forum. The commentator in commercial media is selling the product. The commentator acts like a celebrity endorsement. When Sunil Gavaskar says a cover-drive is magnificent, it is like Sachin [Tendulkar] saying that Pepsi is refreshing."



Sky's commentary team has been a noble exception in the morass, but how long will they hold out against market forces? © Getty Images

With the proliferation of ex-players, naturally perhaps, objective depiction also took the hint, packed up and left, taking with it impartiality. Guest ex-players invited to cover overseas tours were experts but also de facto cheerleaders, providing not only insight for the home panel and listeners but a national balance.

Men such as Navjot Sidhu, his book of home-strewn Punjabi and English proverbs ready, arrived. Boisterous but utterly manufactured, Sidhu was baldly, unapologetically nationalistic, an Indian supporter first, commentator second. His stint as commentator was short-lived, but he lived on as an immensely popular media factotum, judging, analysing, expertising and anything else.

A landmark of sorts for this commentary-box jingoism was reached during the last Australia-India series. Into that on-field cyclone of pride, honour, chest-beating, flag-waving and cultural clashes jumped the two commentary teams from Channel 9 and ESPN-Star. Suddenly we were watching two different games, depending on which broadcaster you chose, Chappelli the only one straddling the divide.

"I suspect that commentators and summarisers have become less objective and this can only be because there are so many ex-players involved," says Martin-Jenkins. "It is certainly the commentator's duty, and arguably the summariser's too, to be fair and 'above the battle'." No longer.

An Asian affliction
The brunt of it has been felt in the subcontinent. Outside, by and large, the trend has hit at least as much as it has missed. Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain are fine, considered finds for Sky. Michael Holding's voice remains as smooth as his run-up was, and his insights aren't bad either. Ian Healy and Mark Taylor aren't quite Lawry and Greig but they'll do.

In contrast, only a few names stand out in India and Pakistan: Sanjay Manjrekar commands respect and ears, and before their IPL stints, Ramiz, Shastri and Gavaskar did too. Beyond them there isn't much.

Pakistan's home ODI series against Zimbabwe in January missed the radar of most, but it didn't deserve the gut-churning commentary it got from a clutch of ex-Pakistan internationals and a random Zimbabwean (who asked Zaheer Abbas on air who Kerry Packer was). In India the commentators appear to be BCCI employees, and if their English is a little better than those of their neighbours across the border, their analysis plumbs the same depths.

"Commentary standards on the subcontinent are dipping," says one experienced broadcaster, "and the biggest reason is the insistence on former cricketers who aren't articulate enough or willing to learn the language of television.

"There is tremendous arrogance in the cricket system which prevents learning, so people believe it is their right to find a place in the commentary box straight after they take their pads off. In Australia and England they don't have the same star system and people have to earn their spot. There is no comparison between levels of professionalism there and here."

 
 
Soon mere stagnation might be the least of our concerns. Soon commentators will be selling in between deliveries. Soon the ad break might be a break from one long ad break
 

This, it seems, is the key. It is easy to dismiss this deterioration as a thing only of language - that those in the subcontinent are not as proficient with English. This overlooks that Hindi and Urdu commentary is equally gormless, but importantly, it deflects attention from the biggest failing of today's breed. Not that Charu Sharma, a senior presenter and broadcaster, has missed it.

"Commentary is something you have to work on," he says, "and you need to keep working on it, just like when they were cricketers. Maybe they don't understand that this is a serious job. Stagnation is there: hear them once, hear them forever. There is no reinvention."

Few who have heard of the shot "that went like a tracer bullet" or some batsman's "lazy elegance" over and over and over and over again, and then once more, will argue with Sharma's assessment.

The pitch
Soon mere stagnation might be the least of our concerns. Soon commentators will be selling in between deliveries. Soon the ad break might be a break from one long ad break. The IPL, some worry, is just the start of it.

Not that Lalit Modi and his suits can take credit for this. Plugs during commentary have been around. In Pakistan, Chisty Mujahid remembers pokes on his shoulder urging him to remind listeners that cricket was brought to them by makers of cancer sticks. Grudgingly, he says, listeners were reminded.

But as with so much in this tale, Channel 9 pushed it further. So Benaud and company, in between overs and breaks, began mumbling about some absolutely lovely cricketana, from signed bats to framed autographs to DVD collections. And they began pushing the network's other programming as well.



Don't hold you breath waiting for the next Tony Cozier, he won't be coming along anytime soon © Getty Images

The IPL's commentators have trumped even Channel 9 and done it with, at worst, such glee, and at best such soulless automation, that fault has to be found with Sharma's contention that "every single commentator would be uncomfortable doing this". Sixes and "moments" are now branded. What odds wickets, fours and catches won't be soon? The day, the writer Rahul Bhattacharya noted recently, a batsman plays a "Toyota Front-Foot Drive against an Intel Faster One" mightn't be far.

Some broadcasters, like Sky, says Martin-Jenkins, remain resolutely above this bazaar, concentrating on cricket itself. But how long can anyone hold out? "What better way to sell something than through the game itself?" asks Sharma. "You don't even need to go to an ad break. It will happen more and more."

Even if it isn't inevitable, what will stand in its way? "Broadcasters are monopolists," says Haigh. "If you want to watch the cricket, you have to put up with the crap they serve as accompaniment. Like all monopolies, they become lazy, flaccid, self-satisfied. Wouldn't it be interesting if there was some red-blooded competition between commentary teams, to go with red-blooded competition on the field?" Viewers may have a say in the matter, though whether or not commentary is as relevant to them as it once was is unclear. That remains a discussion for another time.

***

It is noble, of course, that the game offers those who once served it an opportunity to make a living once their limbs are no longer up to it. Few other sports are as keen on getting ex-players into commentary. And when done well, there are benefits, for everyone loves the insight a top player can provide.

But the pendulum has now swung too far the way of ex-players - the balance of the articulate, witty voice offsetting the rough but insightful expert gone. The monster of Loch Ness might emerge before another Tony Cozier or Harsha Bhogle. Ex-players are there, as Haigh articulates, "to bless the action by their presence rather than to illuminate it."

It is sad, for as much as it is the players who make the game what it is, the men and women who tell their deeds are a vital part of the broader tapestry. Every sport needs a voice and cricket once had one of the richest. It is in danger of losing it.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY Sorcerer on | June 15, 2008, 13:21 GMT

    Even in the Kitply Final, Rameez was the usual "sponsor's whore" that he has become - every six hit was rather a "Voice of India hit" this time and a "maximum" which made him jump out of his seat and the mic getting endangered with explosion!

  • POSTED BY rajat85 on | June 15, 2008, 5:28 GMT

    yeah, actually I would love if cricinfo conducts a poll about the quality of commentators, good and bad qualities of each one of them etc. It'll be good to know the opinion of various ppl in general.

  • POSTED BY Proud2baussie on | June 15, 2008, 2:29 GMT

    Commentary has declined not because former players are commentators but because of money. I agree with the article that the Sky team is an exception and find them a breath of fresh air. Whilst I find Botham very biased when it comes to England I am refreshingly surprised at the frankness of Hussain. In Oz i listen to the ABC and watch nine's coverage which is still the best coverage visually. I find the nine commentary coverage has become very stale. I do not agree that nine's coverage is a blight with its technological advancements but rather it gives a better appreciation of what is happening. IMO you cannot beat being at the game, however some of the coverage's do not provide adequate appreciation of what is happening. Keep it up sky and the ABC

  • POSTED BY benjjay on | June 14, 2008, 22:54 GMT

    as opportunity knocks who is the biggest taker the biggest sell out of them all KP Kevin Pietersen himself. Call it what you want Karma, Kismet, Fate, Justice but the guy who left South Africa for supposed slight of quotas, then popped off Nottinghamshire after he worked through his qualification. Is not surprisingly the biggest cheerleader for IPL, Stanford or whomever is waving the biggest check. Forget the english bravado, nationalism masked as pure commercialisation. No one begrudges the cricketers from earning what they can but his hardly concealed zeal is embarrasing. Aye KP your a champion available for hire

  • POSTED BY Avash on | June 14, 2008, 17:05 GMT

    Yes I really agree with the writer Osman Samiuddin. commentary in cricket should be focusing to teach the young one,how to play the game of cricket rather then telling them which product to go and buy frmo the market.All the commentators now have pretty much played cricket before so if you love the game make other people to love it as well. Don't be greedy and start selling product.If you want to sell products then be a sells man not cricket commentators.

  • POSTED BY ganeshram78 on | June 14, 2008, 15:21 GMT

    hope the channels/ broadcasters read this article and the readers' comments, accept the views as truly universal and change accordingly!

  • POSTED BY Fauzer on | June 14, 2008, 4:15 GMT

    At the begining of IPL, I wasn't sure what the DLF Maximum 6 was. As things progressed with all the hoo-haa, I guess my sub conscious mind figured it out and I didn't worry so much.

    The shameless hype which they called 'commentary' was one of the many things one had to put up with / filter out from time to time to actually get a bit of the cricket in.

    I mean can't we manage a bit of glamour without it actually taking over the game itself?

  • POSTED BY Prashant13 on | June 14, 2008, 4:04 GMT

    excellent article.people wake up...this article was NOT abt criticizing the IPL.its all been abt the commentating.if the commentary was average before it was annoying during the ipl.every time there was a great catch or six they say citi moment of success or dlf max....no way?we oouldnt figure that out ourselves rite?it hardly makes a diff if commentators were made to or chose to say it.the experts arent saying it should be laidback or the english spoken should be topnotch....theyre just saying that a good commentator is one who speaks sense,has energy n does not repeat the same thing and that makes a diff to most fans who actually watch and listen it properly.compare this and harsha bhogle,dean jones(ignoring the racism thing),barry richards,benaud etc.it hardly makes a diff.please have a commentator ratings.

  • POSTED BY gullyman on | June 14, 2008, 3:13 GMT

    I have to respectfully disagree with the writers contention that somehow the IPL has left commentary box pundits pandering to, as he feels to the pull of the market or bending to the will of BCCI. Including a sponsor in reference to a certain happenning in the game has been around sinve cricket made TV grade. I never saw/heard anyone complain about ,for the sake of argument a "Hero Honda - Master Blaster." So why now? The article at best is a commentary of the nature the writer himself criticizes and at worst reveals the fear that has plagued the cricketing world, ever since IPL was unleashed on them. TV commentary is an art, it has evolved and changed to suit the changing facets of the game. To somehow think the Sky commentary team is above all of it, well I beg to differ, I suggest the writer get on YouTube and do some video watching. It will I believe, change the writers perspective, atleast I sure hope so.

  • POSTED BY fraz123 on | June 14, 2008, 1:54 GMT

    Very well written but just one disagreement. Since when Michael Holding has become better than Ramiz Raza or Ravi Shastri ? Better English skills or different accent doesnt mean better commentary. He is one of the most biased person when it comes to West Indian games with Asian teams.

  • POSTED BY Sorcerer on | June 15, 2008, 13:21 GMT

    Even in the Kitply Final, Rameez was the usual "sponsor's whore" that he has become - every six hit was rather a "Voice of India hit" this time and a "maximum" which made him jump out of his seat and the mic getting endangered with explosion!

  • POSTED BY rajat85 on | June 15, 2008, 5:28 GMT

    yeah, actually I would love if cricinfo conducts a poll about the quality of commentators, good and bad qualities of each one of them etc. It'll be good to know the opinion of various ppl in general.

  • POSTED BY Proud2baussie on | June 15, 2008, 2:29 GMT

    Commentary has declined not because former players are commentators but because of money. I agree with the article that the Sky team is an exception and find them a breath of fresh air. Whilst I find Botham very biased when it comes to England I am refreshingly surprised at the frankness of Hussain. In Oz i listen to the ABC and watch nine's coverage which is still the best coverage visually. I find the nine commentary coverage has become very stale. I do not agree that nine's coverage is a blight with its technological advancements but rather it gives a better appreciation of what is happening. IMO you cannot beat being at the game, however some of the coverage's do not provide adequate appreciation of what is happening. Keep it up sky and the ABC

  • POSTED BY benjjay on | June 14, 2008, 22:54 GMT

    as opportunity knocks who is the biggest taker the biggest sell out of them all KP Kevin Pietersen himself. Call it what you want Karma, Kismet, Fate, Justice but the guy who left South Africa for supposed slight of quotas, then popped off Nottinghamshire after he worked through his qualification. Is not surprisingly the biggest cheerleader for IPL, Stanford or whomever is waving the biggest check. Forget the english bravado, nationalism masked as pure commercialisation. No one begrudges the cricketers from earning what they can but his hardly concealed zeal is embarrasing. Aye KP your a champion available for hire

  • POSTED BY Avash on | June 14, 2008, 17:05 GMT

    Yes I really agree with the writer Osman Samiuddin. commentary in cricket should be focusing to teach the young one,how to play the game of cricket rather then telling them which product to go and buy frmo the market.All the commentators now have pretty much played cricket before so if you love the game make other people to love it as well. Don't be greedy and start selling product.If you want to sell products then be a sells man not cricket commentators.

  • POSTED BY ganeshram78 on | June 14, 2008, 15:21 GMT

    hope the channels/ broadcasters read this article and the readers' comments, accept the views as truly universal and change accordingly!

  • POSTED BY Fauzer on | June 14, 2008, 4:15 GMT

    At the begining of IPL, I wasn't sure what the DLF Maximum 6 was. As things progressed with all the hoo-haa, I guess my sub conscious mind figured it out and I didn't worry so much.

    The shameless hype which they called 'commentary' was one of the many things one had to put up with / filter out from time to time to actually get a bit of the cricket in.

    I mean can't we manage a bit of glamour without it actually taking over the game itself?

  • POSTED BY Prashant13 on | June 14, 2008, 4:04 GMT

    excellent article.people wake up...this article was NOT abt criticizing the IPL.its all been abt the commentating.if the commentary was average before it was annoying during the ipl.every time there was a great catch or six they say citi moment of success or dlf max....no way?we oouldnt figure that out ourselves rite?it hardly makes a diff if commentators were made to or chose to say it.the experts arent saying it should be laidback or the english spoken should be topnotch....theyre just saying that a good commentator is one who speaks sense,has energy n does not repeat the same thing and that makes a diff to most fans who actually watch and listen it properly.compare this and harsha bhogle,dean jones(ignoring the racism thing),barry richards,benaud etc.it hardly makes a diff.please have a commentator ratings.

  • POSTED BY gullyman on | June 14, 2008, 3:13 GMT

    I have to respectfully disagree with the writers contention that somehow the IPL has left commentary box pundits pandering to, as he feels to the pull of the market or bending to the will of BCCI. Including a sponsor in reference to a certain happenning in the game has been around sinve cricket made TV grade. I never saw/heard anyone complain about ,for the sake of argument a "Hero Honda - Master Blaster." So why now? The article at best is a commentary of the nature the writer himself criticizes and at worst reveals the fear that has plagued the cricketing world, ever since IPL was unleashed on them. TV commentary is an art, it has evolved and changed to suit the changing facets of the game. To somehow think the Sky commentary team is above all of it, well I beg to differ, I suggest the writer get on YouTube and do some video watching. It will I believe, change the writers perspective, atleast I sure hope so.

  • POSTED BY fraz123 on | June 14, 2008, 1:54 GMT

    Very well written but just one disagreement. Since when Michael Holding has become better than Ramiz Raza or Ravi Shastri ? Better English skills or different accent doesnt mean better commentary. He is one of the most biased person when it comes to West Indian games with Asian teams.

  • POSTED BY King99 on | June 14, 2008, 1:25 GMT

    Arun Lal and Harsha Bhogle are the PITS. They commentate as if they are paid for each word spoken. God , how much they talk! Can they not hear Ritchie Benaud and follow him?

  • POSTED BY Patiala-Jatt on | June 14, 2008, 0:19 GMT

    Very well said. The level of commentary has gone down so much that its really disgusting. I am sick listening to voice of Arun Lal, Aamir Sohail, Rameez, and Laxman Shivaramakrishnan. They have poor vocabulary and repeat same thing over and over and over which is not even funny. I remember Arun Lal say, "What a year he had! Last year." about 10 times in a series every time Mohammed Yousuf was on screen and I am not even exaggerating. I mean give us a little break, at least change something in your sentence. Listening to 'DLF Maximum Six, and Citi Moment of success' was a pathetic experience. Aussie and English Commentators are way better. Lets hope some one takes some action, but I think we are hoping against hope because all what BCCI cares about is its own coffers.

    A Disappointed Punjabi

  • POSTED BY Raman01 on | June 14, 2008, 0:09 GMT

    Cudn't agree more. Some of the comments by Ravi Shastri were overboard. Clearly, the commentators were dancing to the tunes of dollars.

  • POSTED BY rv770 on | June 13, 2008, 23:39 GMT

    Many cricket followers really enjoyed this new style of commentary. We need to understand that we are living in the capatilist world. "If I kill someone i belong to peace keeping forces if my enemy does belong to invading forces" If anything involves BCCI/IPL it is negative (criticizing BCCI/IPL is one of the Pre requisite to publish in cricinfo), anything against them is positive. Once the financial influence further grips it hand, and new breed of youngsters will arrive where only IPL matches is considered world series. Learn from NBA where NJ/NY ( 10 miles apart) play for world series. Fan support is everything and little matters for other barking people who does the wolf crying and crocodaile tears on declining of cricket.

  • POSTED BY kman610 on | June 13, 2008, 22:38 GMT

    IPL is the future of cricket.The commentary during the matches was pretty decent.I watched all the matches and did not notice anything overtly crass as the writer seems to suggest.Come what may this is how the game is going to progress in the coming years.So all you people who are living in the sleepy past of TMS and radio commentary better stop whining and crying about the"loss" of boring 2 worded commentary....puhlees...whether you old guys like it or not the IPL is here to stay

  • POSTED BY asifali on | June 13, 2008, 22:37 GMT

    i used to get so much irritated with the phrase "citi moment of success",during the IPL season, thought like to hit the commentator with the bat.

  • POSTED BY kp19711976 on | June 13, 2008, 21:44 GMT

    With all due respect, I do not agree with the article. Why we are so much worried about the kind of money IPL is making and what is going to happen to cricket. Just a reality check - Cricket wouldn't exist if there is no entertainment. I wonder how many folks still watch 5-day game ball-by-ball. In reality, without one-day game, probably, cricket game would have disappeared. Do you really believe that the fast-food generation would have still liked slow-paced test cricket? Thus, let's not make mockery or bad things for the people who are making money - so what they have to follow sponsor's rule. Aren't you follow the instruction provided by your employer? Or do you say, I wouldn't do my job because I do not like this. I believe that if you have that luxury then you wouldn't be reading these articles for sure... Thus, let's cherish the moment and enjoy and come out of old memories. It's time to create new memories and history. So let's take the positive things and move on....

  • POSTED BY mumbaiguy79 on | June 13, 2008, 21:13 GMT

    Nice one! The absolute benchmark of commentary for me was the Channel 9 commentary team in the early and late 90s. Benaud with his clinical analysis, Tony Greig with his unbiased opinion about the situation and Chappelli with his no-nonsense comments and adulation for good cricket. If given a choice listening to some of the commentators from India, England, Sri Lanka, Pakistan etc, etc, and NOTHING, I will choose nothing.

    Gosh that fabulously boring Sivaramakrishnan and Arun Lal, along with a biased Sunny Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri and Aamir Sohail with their prosaic analysis of the situation makes me wonder what really is the criteria for being a commentator.

    Rameez rocks though with his humor :)

  • POSTED BY ranjeetc on | June 13, 2008, 19:07 GMT

    STOP comparing sub continental commentators in IPL with the boring laid back commentators of old times. There are cultural differences on both sides. The brand the IPL is pandering to, don't mind such content. First people complained about the game of T20, then they complained about pre-meditated shots, then they complained about the flashyness of the whole IPL tournament, then the cheerleaders and now the commentators. The problem with these purists are that they fail to see the current emerging new demographic of cricket viewers who like this kind of content. These purists were praying for IPL's demise even before it started.

  • POSTED BY Shairani on | June 13, 2008, 17:47 GMT

    Right on the money Osman..! this practice by 'formerly' respectable cricketers like Ramiz, Ravi and Sunil Gavaskar (for god's sake how much more money do you want!) is totally outrageous !!

    The strength of the Asian bloc in international cricket has become a problem and is messing up the game big time!

  • POSTED BY stoned7 on | June 13, 2008, 16:17 GMT

    Well said, cricket has changed its phase now. I still remember the time when 250 was considered to be a big total and now a days its atleast 320 or so. Problem with IPL is it too much overrated. I followed all the games and watched some of them and enjoyed them but its taking one day cricket to a whole different level. No doubt, India has biggest crowd in all games at any venue and against any team. (60,000 people in test match)now a days but India is not the only team in ICC. And for sure commentray levels are also down they are lured towards $$ instead of quality of commentary. Tony Craig use to bring cricket alive for the people watching at home. I don't see that any more. Even in the IPL final match was so close and crucial but there was no real feeling.

  • POSTED BY A_zhar_is_born on | June 13, 2008, 15:46 GMT

    I have for long felt that the commentators make watching cricket quite arduous and the only reason I have the volume up on my TV is because I need to hear the sounds of the game - bat on ball, crowd applause. Anyone willing to start a motion for a channel with no commentary? I would pay top dollar for that!

  • POSTED BY mirza9 on | June 13, 2008, 15:41 GMT

    Great article.Even Australian commentators frequently cross the line into revelry. Generally the quality of commentary has gone down.What I find to be most irritating is this policy(?)that every match should have a commentator from each competing team. It's as if they are trying to force a balance in the commentary box, whereas their shouldn't be any bias there in the first place.If the bar were set higher on commentary, then the nationality of the broadcaster would be a moot point.I like the idea further down about starting a cricinfo rating for commentary.As far as the IPL is concerned, can anyone expect anything other than shameless advertising?I would be disappointed if I saw that in tests, or even in one days-but the IPL is more of a product than anything else.The writer below mentioned that "a critical mass" of domestic players could one day rule the IPL in place of foreign players. Lets pray that's the case so quality international players don't waste their fitness in the IPL.

  • POSTED BY gung-ho on | June 13, 2008, 15:13 GMT

    I have not had a chance to watch IPL on TV -- but if Shashtri and Gavaskar ended up as peddlers, its indeed very sad. I like Shastri as a commentator (he was a horrible batsman though); whereas I hate Gavaskar -- he tries to act as if he is the only commentator standing up for Indian Cricket -- I loved the way he used to bat.

    Srikanth is a big joke as a commentator -- his commentary like his batting lacks quality and stuff -- I mean how can he go on and one about the same thing he said about 5 mins ago...

    Harsha is a class act and I hope he continues to be so!

  • POSTED BY back_foot_punch on | June 13, 2008, 15:07 GMT

    I believe that Geoffrey Boycott summarised it perfectly, in that people should only be informed by commentary of things only the commentators may knoow. In other words, what can an ex-player bring to a commentary? All good cricket fans can identify what a good cover drive or perfect outswinger is. I prefer to hear maybe an anecdote of Michael Holding's days as a fast bowler, or what might be a better field setting to the current one. It won't get better though.

  • POSTED BY starjay on | June 13, 2008, 14:54 GMT

    Mr Osman has a point however I don't completely agree with all what he has to say. Look guys T20 is a quick changing form of the game and its an offspring of marketing and business enterprises. If you are a salesman in any company the first and foremost thing your employer would tell you is to promote the brand of the company or corporation. Same is happening with the IPL which is an Indian domestic competition endorsed by the BCCI comprising of crew and television commentary HIRED by the BCCI. What else is Mr. Osman expecting from them ?

    Secondly I am tired about hearing Richie Benaud's name or Bill Laury's because they are purists and thats how those guys operate. To be honest I wasn't satisfied with the commentary by Channel 9 during the recent India-Australia series. The test series had a monotonous tone with the Channel 9 team constantly singing praises of the Australian team. If thats worse then it got even worse during the CB series. Only an Indian victory shut their mouths.

  • POSTED BY ParamIyer on | June 13, 2008, 14:54 GMT

    Quite an insightful article. The commentary standard is deterioting worldwide. IPL commentary was crass and some commentators who were very good were not around for the final few matches of IPL namely Ian Bishop, Tony Cozier (absent because of WI v Aus series) but it does not explain why possibly Greg Chappel and Robin Jackman - certainly better and articulate than our Ramiz Raja and "that is" Arun Lal.

    As claimtofame pointed out, the fun is when India go to Australia and we can hear Richie Benaud, Bill Lawry with an Indian expert speak and so should happen in England as well. Arun Lal, Ramiz Raja et al don't speak anything apart from what's displayed on TV screen which all can see. They need to learn from Tony Cozier, Ian Chappel who seem to talk about past incidents, funny moments and incidents that have happened in the past. Its so much fun and enlightening to hear Tony Cozier speak...

    I am waiting for the results of the poll in Cricinfo for the best commentators

  • POSTED BY fazal555 on | June 13, 2008, 14:50 GMT

    I feel really sad about the way in which you have tried to squarely blame Indian comentators in your article and take pot-shots the the IPl. It's unfair. Just take a look at some games in India (and even Pakistan) where there are no sponsors like Hockey, where there are players who show brilliant skill but have no money, so much so that just a week ago a few hockey palyers in India had to auction thier t-shirts to raise money for conducting a tournament. It's sad that when God gifts us something we never have a humblness to appreciate and only when things are taken away for us do we feel and pinch and realise thier value. So what if during the IPL people like Rameez Raja, Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shashtri et al. said that every six was a DLF maximum or that a sutnning runout was a Citi moment of success. For us (the fans) it has made no difference whatsoever. I am not going to go and buy an apartment that has been buitlt by DLF or open a bank account in Citi Bank. Try and respect sponsors.

  • POSTED BY RajKS on | June 13, 2008, 14:48 GMT

    Hi Osman,

    Really appreciate your guts to take on the commentary team head on. I agree with what you say. However, I would like to point to another issue that is driven by the crass commercialization. The way IPL matches were shown on the Sony was pathetic. While you are watching a match, the main screen would be reduced and space vacated would be occupied by some static images of the advertisement. If there is some moment where the bowler is talking to the fielder they will switch on to the advertisement. The advertisement will continue till the bowler is almost about to bowl the delivery (in same case you will even miss the delivery). I have seen on the American Television how the NFL, MLB and NBA are shown. The game sentiment is respected and the viewers are not troubled by forcing visual ads on them. The entire notion of watching the sports on the TV with family is maintained.

    Thanks Ra

  • POSTED BY NumberXI on | June 13, 2008, 14:43 GMT

    Anyone who thinks Indian commentators are the only ones biased needs a reality check. I remember back in 1985 when India were playing Australia in an ODI and the Aussies were something like 30/4 or 5. All of the venerable Aussie commentators - Benaud, Greig, Chappell, Lawry, etc - lost their voices and we had the experience of watching the match with grudging and reluctant commentary until India lost the plot and the match, by which time they had recovered their voices. Similarly, there was another occasion when West Indies cricketers got some Australian or English batsman out and I remember the famous comment from one of the same lot which went "oh no, surely not, surely not". Unbiased? You gotta be kidding me!

  • POSTED BY rish.chawla on | June 13, 2008, 14:42 GMT

    Excellent piece, Mr. Samiuddin. I am shocked more writers haven't wrought their wrath on this shameless plugging at the IPL. It was heartening to see Rahul write a piece, and now this. I wonder what percentage of the media needs to write about it to ensure the disappearance of this soulless selling in the second edition of the IPL.

    That's one. Then there's the issue of the prevalence of terrible commentators. Aamir Sohail's absolute lack of articulation and insight embarrasses me. Whenever I hear him speak, I wonder if he is aware of his own ineptitude. I mean...he makes Arun Lal sound like Richie Benaud. And frankly, that is really saying something.

    One of the biggest reasons I enjoyed the T20 World Cup edition so immensely had as much to do with the fact that I watched it on Sky - with Micheal Holding's chocolatey voice, Arthers' dry comments, and David Lloyd's brilliant frivolousness - as it did with the fact that India won.

    Here's to wishing Richie'd live to be 200. Sigh.

  • POSTED BY Masalacricket on | June 13, 2008, 14:23 GMT

    I think it is time people like Osman wake up to the reality & start learning to adapt, adopt & understand the difference between traditional cricket & Professional cricket. I would have supported Osman's, had this kinda commentary creeped into ICC international matches or first class domestic matches. But since this is professional cricket where sponsorships, endorsements, brand-selling forms an important role alongside cricket, one has to expect such changes in commentary. Lets not forget that its the sponsorships, the endorsements which has kept this game alive else it would have perished like most of India's top other sports. Osman could also possibly look at his own cricinfo website & question his bosses on why do we have these popups,advertisements & promotion of products on Cricket website. Even a Osman needs a IPL bashing or needs the jhatkas of the cheerleaders to sell his article. If commentary standards have declined, so has quality of reporters/writers.

  • POSTED BY Vienna on | June 13, 2008, 14:20 GMT

    Yes it is foolish to call every six a DLF maximum six. I thought the commentators were saying that it is the longest six (in meters) but no every six was simply a DLF maximum six! And that too when the boudaries were moved inwards! On a normal filed a DLF maximum six is an offered catch, that is the batsman is likely to get out rather than earn any awards. How absurd ?

    And DLF is only a construction company dealing with bricks and mortar and has no idea what cricket is!

  • POSTED BY MasterAniket on | June 13, 2008, 14:12 GMT

    Well, I just dont get it. T20 is not cricket, isn't it? Thats what what everybody says. The real thing is the tests. We play/watch T20 just to entertain/sell and make quick big bucks. So why shouldn't these poor commentators have a crack? Everybody is making money here, and so are they. If you want 'Pure and Artistic and Analytic and....' sort of commentary, watch test cricket mate! You seem to be annoyed by that clamor of 'lazy elegance' and all, havent you heard the 'Mother of Geoff boycott' umpteenth times? Does he think one is supposed to laugh every time his mum is spoken off?

  • POSTED BY Himanshu_Kapil on | June 13, 2008, 14:10 GMT

    Very well written Osman. This was the thing I observed while watching IPL that such reputed commentators like Ravi Shastri, Sunil Gasvaskar and Rameez raza who have such an impeccable command over english and obviously cricket also, stooped to such levels of selling products. Specially Sunil Gavaskar who is such an ardent supporter of pure cricket !! But what I believe is that such is craze and money this IPL has created that everyone who is there just wants to grab whatever he can !! Never in cricket history has been such an opportunity to earn big money. But finally we always expect from stalwarts like Gavaskar to stand to make cricket survive and not the glamour in Cricket. I just wish that those so called good commentators of IPL read this article once.

  • POSTED BY vish515 on | June 13, 2008, 14:08 GMT

    The Following people should be banned with immediate effect from commentating: arun lal,ranjit fernando,laxman sivaramakrishnan,mark nicholas,bob willis,paul allot,aamir sohail & sir ian botham .. i think osman you are being rather harsh on rammez raja-granted he had a forgettable outing in IPL but otherwise he's ok.I agree with your views on manjrekar.Pity he isnt used as much.Lovely Article as always.

  • POSTED BY vatsap on | June 13, 2008, 14:08 GMT

    Brilliant piece. For all the comparisons on IPL and World Series, I think it just ends with the concept and marketing off the field. IPL was a mockery of the game. Mr. Modi still has the gumption to talk against ICL. I hope the Super 20-20 or whatever they want to call that ends up a super flop.

    Sad thing is, the cricketers have been sucked into the easy money business.

    Regarding the commentators, its been a while since we heard a refreshing Indian commentator. Gavaskar was good a while ago. The rest Ravi Shastri, Arun Lal, Rameez Raja (yeah not Indian) are repetitive, needlessly loud and aping on our Star News, NDTV news anchors on sensationalism.

  • POSTED BY Indiangazza on | June 13, 2008, 13:41 GMT

    On the subject of commentary. Can someone please tell me how can we get rid of idiots such as Amir Sohail, Sivaramakrishanan, Arun Lal and the Bangaladeshi dude who was explaining the meaning of Rudra Pratap and drawing parallel with the match situation. Amir Sohail went on to ask Sehwag if he had an inflated ego to hit boundaries on every ball he faces.. what kind of a question is that??

    The past two series, IPL and now this Kitply cup has undoubtedly had the worst commentary ever seen on television...

  • POSTED BY AmitJ on | June 13, 2008, 13:31 GMT

    I wonder why people cannot get off their purist high horses and just enjoy. IPL was a great cricketing event and people enjoyed it. Sports from the ancient times has been for spectators and not for sportsmen. Sportsmen are nothing with the spectators. They get their own pursuit and joy in achieving success but lets not forget they will not enjoy it if there aren't people to watch you. And people are going to come to watch you because they enjoy it and not to make some sportsman feel good. It's kind of funny, everyone expects to see a good contest but do really want to pay for it. They would like the players play for free and networks boradcast it without any ads. It's reality time. To run events someone has to pay. Cricketers would like to make money too for the effort they put in and it is not right for peope sitting on their couches, expecting more money for the work they do, but wanting everyone else to do it for the joy of the sports ( the joy that they get in watching it).

  • POSTED BY Vkarthik on | June 13, 2008, 12:47 GMT

    This is a perfect title. I mean the way these guys compete with each other to who first says "DLF six maximum" is really disgusting. Cricket has turned into a joke. Imagine in 1983 world cup final someone had said "That is Prudential maximum for Srikkanth". I would have thrown up.

  • POSTED BY vswami on | June 13, 2008, 12:31 GMT

    All this constant criticism is on the assumption that IPL would always "need" foreign cricketers to be viable. With the amount of money in the game, I would be surprised if at a certain point in time in near future, there isnt a critical mass of Indian cricketers who can form very competitive viable domestic teams. BCCI could then just decide to withdraw inwards and get rid of those who are greedy for money from IPL and yet only want to constantly criticise all things associated with it. This process could happen within 5-7 years. 14 year olds who are watching now will come of age and form the critical mass.

  • POSTED BY rajat85 on | June 13, 2008, 12:25 GMT

    Really well written Mr. Osman. I've just written a thrashing mail to Neo Sports team (not sure if it'll result in something) about the declining level of commentary. In India, just look at shits like Arun Lal, Laxman Sivaramakrishnan (who now has adopted a Srikkanth style of saying "preshure").

    And yes, I was really disappointed with the IPL. Didn't expect that the commentary team comprising of Shastri, Sunny and Ramiz would go down to such levels! Perhaps thats the reason Harsha Bhogle didn't participate in the commentary team and instead involved himself in the Mumbai team.

    Thank You for writing such a good article. I hope that somebody reads it (again, not sure if this will really help!)

  • POSTED BY amalsp on | June 13, 2008, 12:11 GMT

    Hi,

    Well said (written) osman, One line that caught my eye in the above article was

    "Richie Benaud, who was brought up to believe that you should speak only if you could add to the picture."

    I wish this was the commentators motto. I sometimes mute the TV and put some music on when I simply cannot bare to listen to the commentary. Maybe we are being told to go watch the match at the ground whenever possible then we will not have a problem with the commentators.

    I would like to see cricinfo start a rating for commentators for each series, so people who listen can give a rating on them (with comments)and maybe the commentators themselves will have a look at that and see what they are doing right or wrong.

    keep up the good work. (That is to you osman, not to the commntators)

  • POSTED BY Pushpak on | June 13, 2008, 11:53 GMT

    i remember a match between Delhi and Some Other IPL Team was delayed because broadcasting problem was there. It shows the very own existence of IPL.

  • POSTED BY kamalkapoor on | June 13, 2008, 11:53 GMT

    Mr Samiuddin has a point. But please remember that T20 is a new ball game with its own language and syntax. Comparing the laid back pace of test cricket and great broadcasters of yore with frantic T20 format and ballistic commentators is not 'cricket'. The IPL and T20 fans do not mind a bit of over the top brand pushing as long as over the top shots are being hit on the ground.

    In any case who would remember 'DLF Maximum' or 'Citi Moment of success'. The abiding memories of IPL would remain Yusuf Pathan hitting all and sundry with gay abandon, old fox Warne weaving his magic, carefree attitude of Asnodkar, permanent frown on Dravid's face, Sivamani's drum beats and Shahrukh working up the Eden crowd.

  • POSTED BY laxmanrules on | June 13, 2008, 11:45 GMT

    Arun Lal and Rameez Raja repeating cliche after cliche is seriously unbearable. ESPN almost turned sunil gavaskar into a stand up comedian. Ravi shastri still holds his own.

    I must agree with the fact that commentators from the subcontinent are nowhere when compared to the likes of Ian Chappel, Nasser Hussain, Atherton, etc. Even Boycott has a sense of humour!

    In contrast, hearing indian and pakistani (worse sri lankan ) commentators drone monotoncally speaking complete shit and making random points puts you off completely.

    I watched almost all of ipl on mute! Suggest you do the same.

  • POSTED BY Vishu13681 on | June 13, 2008, 11:45 GMT

    I'm not sure that I see this as a problem. American sport has been packaged and sold this way for decades and their sportsmen are among the best paid in the world. Its probably hard to accept because cricket is such an old and venerable game but as with everything else change is inevitable.

  • POSTED BY Gautam.Sharma on | June 13, 2008, 11:37 GMT

    harsha bhogle is too over rated.i wonder why-he too gushes like the others when someone hits a cover drive on a placid wicket

  • POSTED BY heartly_welcomes_you on | June 13, 2008, 11:20 GMT

    Gavaskar and Shastri = Commentary legends? Give me a break.

    All the Indian commentators are so biased it isn't funny. And now they appear on every single match India plays abroad. When India go to Australia I want to hear Richie Benaud and Bill Lawry. When India go to New Zealand, I want to hear Ian Smith. In England, I yearn for David Lloyd and Gower. That is what makes a tour unique.

    Not Harsha, Gavaskar and Shastri telling me there is a huge conspiracy against 'brown' India and the whole world is out to get us.

  • POSTED BY rushdi on | June 13, 2008, 10:59 GMT

    As always a very insightful article but we all throw our two penny's worth into the huddle so here goes mine:

    Brevity was the soul of wit...until the commentators got the brilliant idea to try and explain what we were watching! It is not an isolated incident what happened at IPL, look around you it is everywhere. IPL was all hype but you have to admit the cricket was good, just for once we need to see it for what it is anew form of cricket. It is not replacing tests and one day (although after watching the last few World Cups, I don"t know why it shouldn't!)

    Tests are beautiful when they are against well matched teams but A Bangladesh and SA/India/Pakistan/.... is not truly a good three day spent(if we are lucky it goes to three days).

    Most of the times we just wish we can watch the game and not listen to Arun lal! He just has the gifted ability to raise frustration levels higher than the "On/Off" form of Yuvraj and Shewag...

    Bring something to the game...that's all we ask!

  • POSTED BY Magick on | June 13, 2008, 10:33 GMT

    Back in Oz, the standard of commentary is more than reasonable. ABC Radio do a great job, and the chemistry between Kerry O'Keeffe, Glenn Mitchell and Harsha Bhogle is great. Channel 9 are ok but a tad overrated. Around the world, Indian commentators are awful (namely messrs Shivaramakrishnan, Gavaskar and Lal), while the Pakistanis (Sohail, Raja and Akram) should stick to their day job. Whatever that is.... SkySports commentary and general presentation is brilliant and every one of their commentators are exemplary. A few up and comers to look out for are Pommie Mbangwa, Jimmy Adams and Ian Bishop, they all have poise and are clear and concise in their views.

  • POSTED BY Playfair on | June 13, 2008, 10:28 GMT

    It may sound crassy but at the end of the day, its a job for these commentators and if the sponsers demand it, these commentators will have to oblige.

    I much prefer radio commentary but thats another thread.

  • POSTED BY Bingoe on | June 13, 2008, 10:19 GMT

    Valid points all. The New Zealand approach for some years has been to put the TV on mute and tune into the radio commentary where for 20 years plus we've been blessed by the dulcet tones of Brian Waddle, ably supported by Jeremy Coney. Sadly, I've never been to India so have no idea if the radio commentators there will make it all bearable.

  • POSTED BY Kasukata on | June 13, 2008, 10:12 GMT

    Mr Osman Samiuddin, Whatever! The IPL will lead and leave beautiful english language behind. Good and bad commentators are overuled by the ferocity in the game which will increase. So don't worry about the semantics just watch the space. Revolutionary stuff comes from ideas not different commentators. AG

  • POSTED BY TastePeAtka on | June 13, 2008, 10:03 GMT

    Let's face it, not all of us are paid to watch cricket matches and do an in-depth analysis on how good or bad the commentary was. Benaud was a classic and no one challenges that, but we have to adapt to the changes and 20-20 is very much a part of the change - like Shastri and Gavaskar have done. Lalit Modi never claimed that the tournament was for the purists, his objective was to entertain and entertain he did. Elvis has left the building Mr. Samiuddin, let's get on with it..

  • POSTED BY Capitalist on | June 13, 2008, 10:03 GMT

    Have a look around your own article it has full of ads around it. Mr Samiuddin you are obviosuly living is some ancient socialist society. You are oviously from the generation from the sub continent that used to think anything that was from a caucasian country was better than yours(in reference to your comments about sky & 9 being better than the IPL). The sky commentary team are the most boring and full of themselves. Get a life and come out of your cocoon you live in. We know Cricinfo is anti IPL so you we know you have to please your caucasian employers by writing this article. Get a Life.

  • POSTED BY heph on | June 13, 2008, 9:53 GMT

    Another thought provoking piece Osman. Channel 9 did bring ex cricketers to commentary boxes but they also made them to work on it. I remember Ian Chappel saying that he works equally hard on his writing and commentary as he used to work on cricket and we can see a difference as he has a new thing to say every now and then. Tony Greg and Bill Lawry were a good change from mundane old style, even though it was impartial and neutral, still did not appeal to younger viewers. However mere jumping and hoopla cannot keep a viewer interested for long, hence I am not a fan of Tony Greg any more. Commercialization in the commentary boxes might benefit cooperations but it will lose in the long run as they will only lose the viewers. It is the real substance which goes the distance, probably its the time again to bring back serious commentators back to cricket.

  • POSTED BY RITS11 on | June 13, 2008, 9:45 GMT

    Another IPL baiter. As PPRK says all that memoribalia selling seems allright but its all crass when done in the subcontinent.

  • POSTED BY Av79 on | June 13, 2008, 9:44 GMT

    All things considered, crass unprofessional commentary was perfectly suited to the IPL. Given the overall tenor of the whole concept, I'd say that rubbish commentary is perfectly appropriate - it matched the cricket.

    The real shame is pundits desperately fawning over this 20Twenty garbage and having the gall to make disparaging comparisons to test cricket - despite the fact that the post-IPL test matches have been quite simply superb. This website (as usual) has much to answer for in this regard.

    So kudos to any commentator willing to sell out in what is the perfect forum to do so. 20Twenty is a complete sellout itself (figuratively and literally). And kudos to the writer here for actually having the balls to write some much-needed balance into the overall perspective. Well done.

  • POSTED BY dilipud on | June 13, 2008, 9:43 GMT

    Osman, superbly written & really the best way to describe what mess the cricket is getting into now a days. At one time, I was one of the biggest fans of cricket as a sport, but now, I dont even care what all matches are getting played in the world. And this broadcasting mess is one of the reasons that I dont find watching live cricket a enjoyment anymore. What with channels edging out as much as possible from cricket to fit-in one more ad, to earn one more commercial. In IPL, I saw innumerable times the telecast starting the exact moment the bowler has released the first delivery of the new over, while I never got the chance to watch the umpire make the decision of "over" after the final ball was bowled. I once thought that I will miss cricket from my life, now being a full-time professional in accounting services, but slowly & surely, I am getting happy that I dont care about cricket.

  • POSTED BY RSG476 on | June 13, 2008, 9:39 GMT

    The article certainly has a point but perhaps the writer would care to explain how Sanjay Manjrekar got to be someone who commands respect as a commentator ? Manjrekar carries his personal biases into the game and seems to have a lingering bitterness over contemporaries who have done better and shown more character than him. Just because he is a regular on Cricinfo does not make him a good commentator ! Finally, re: biased /jingositic commentators, I doubt if that is just a subcontinent phenomenon. If you watch the old matches in 70s and 80s that get shown on sports channel, it is amusing to listen to the old boy's club and realize how biased they were. The difference may lie in subtlety vs in-your-face bias, but there is no mistaking the bias that comes across, even from the most plum and rich accents.

  • POSTED BY suhaibj on | June 13, 2008, 9:29 GMT

    I dont think I have read anything as perfect as this article. Before the IPL, the commentary was still bearable. But now, everything seemed branded and so artificial.

    Great work Mr. Samiuddin!

  • POSTED BY KillBcci on | June 13, 2008, 9:26 GMT

    Commentating standards are going down and attimes i feel like watching the match in mute and commentators are now just a mouth piece of the sponsors and they are more like a salesman promoting the products....if ur retired r not picked in the side and the very next day u become a commentator and the sadest thing is in the advent of breaking news phobia these people manage to get the channel and air some stupid and mindless observation.its pain to listen to Arun lal whom i think is the dumbest commentator in the world and less said is better about amair sohail and Sensless and abnormal sidhu he has the biggest mouth in the world which keeps chewing some thing other.I think ASian countries can't produce the greatest commentators like richie bernaud and tony cozier coz of their worship of their cricketers.

  • POSTED BY NumberXI on | June 13, 2008, 9:13 GMT

    A lot of people have complained about the money angle on IPL, and how this branding has spoils the experience. Well, hello people! In the 1985 Benson & Hedges World Series Cup (aka tri-series), the best batting strike rate was called "Kit Kat Strike Rate". Channel 9 even now offers to sell "rare, collectors' item, hand crafted, player autographed bats" at outrageous price, and that when a match is on, with the likes of Tony Grieg doing the selling. So, what is so especially wrong about IPL and its commentators?

  • POSTED BY Anjo on | June 13, 2008, 9:13 GMT

    An excellent article as always Osman. I prefer watching cricket with my volume settings at "mute" nowadays because of the deplorable commentary, lack of a facility to filter out the ever-noisy crowds and ridiculously loud repetitive advertisements. Unfortunately we are now forced to watch our cricket on a proportionally smaller screen to accommodate the ads that take up 30% of the screen during play! Point well taken about ex-commentators, but the jokers hired as anchors are as bad if not worse. The funniest moment in the IPL came when that chuckling anchor asked Pommie Mbwanga if he could teach him some Calypso to which a stunned Mbwanga asked why he should know about Calypso as he wasn't from the Caribbean! Its fast becoming like that joke about newspapers, an editor needs stories to cover the spaces left void by advertisements.

  • POSTED BY AncientAstronaut on | June 13, 2008, 9:04 GMT

    I'm glad that someone's written an article on this subject. Nice one, Osman. I was appalled by the IPL commentators. Not only was their commentary boring and repetitive, it even included the names of sponsors. This is how low some ex-greats like Shastri and Gavaskar have fallen. I preferred watching most matches on mute; it was much more entertaining that way.

  • POSTED BY Mk354 on | June 13, 2008, 9:02 GMT

    Indeed Osman Commentary and both the standard of the cricket has definitely gone down.. Everyone is determined to sell the soul of cricket. Its not a gentleman's game anymore , nor any gentlemen play it. There was a time when we would run from our schools to watch the heroes play , we had 20 one days in a year and 5-8 tests a year. These days the curiosity to watch the matches has greatly declined, much because of the market forces and bollywood slaughtering the cricket. I think the golden days of cricket were in the last decade, and I fear that we would never see those days again!!! Poor cricket has lost its sheen and the charisma. If anyone thought IPL was enough, there comes the Stanford!!!!!

    Mujtaba Hyd, India

  • POSTED BY VenkatAnanth on | June 13, 2008, 8:36 GMT

    Indeed Osman. That trend has continued through to the tri-nation Cup, when Aamir Sohail struggles to control himself when he calls for a Voice of India six ! Its extremely unfortunate to see commentary reduced to nothing but word-of-mouth marketing. As someone who has grown up to Richie Benaud and Bill Lawry, this is a disgusting change. I am glad someone brought it out in the open. And if that wasn't enough, we had commentators reminding us of how good a concept it was every now and then. Which was equally shoddy. The game is indeed sold out !

  • POSTED BY LazyGarfield on | June 13, 2008, 8:33 GMT

    Sorry to say,I belong to the ONE BILLION,and I did not like anything except the cricket. Arun Lal doesn't know that he does not command any respect,yet he urged the crowd to "give a round of applause" at the presentation ceremonies.It was funny to see no one clapping.The icing on the cake was the poor dance show during the finals,when Salman Khan was promoting his game show. Osman,you are the best writer on Cricinfo.

  • POSTED BY margarath on | June 13, 2008, 8:31 GMT

    This just serves to remind the English how lucky we are to have TMS! Also, the two cricket commentary teams in England of Sky and TMS both have their resident oddballs (Lloyd/Blowers/Boycott) and I would hate to see their individual style tied down by pointless advertising.

  • POSTED BY jamrith on | June 13, 2008, 8:25 GMT

    Excellent piece Osman, the IPL commentators started at the bottom of the pit and stayed there. Apart from the inane and shrill sponsorship of brands and the IPL itself, the toss was horrible to watch with Ravi Shastri usually shouting out some unintelligible greeting meant to be in the local language, the prize ceremonies were equally awful. " Citi moment of Success" took the cake-- in one match, Shastri got that plug in and then blurted out to Arun Lal " Sorry, I beat you to it". The commentators of old would turn in their graves if they heard the same old " hit like a tracer bullet", "in the corridor of uncertainty" ( by the way, Sivaramakrishnan most certainly can not pronounce "uncertainty")or " when he hits it, it stays hit". Harsha Bhogle, Charu Sharma, Sanjay Manjrekar and that young and rather self-effacing RK of Nimbus Sports are better than Gavaskar ( snobbish pontification), Shastri ( self-serving egomaniac)or the Pakistani duo Ramiz and Sohail, Arun Lal is not so bad.

  • POSTED BY tough_cool on | June 13, 2008, 8:05 GMT

    This article was bound to invite some controversies and sure it did. the controversies seem to arise just out of the mere fact that there are opinions for people about different commentators and once your favorite commentator is criticized - even for right reasons or not - people just seem to be thrashing this article itself. While it could be, some points made by Osman may not go well with some people but the overall intent of the article need not be questioned. By calling names Osman has called for trouble, but his intentions are not really bad. His intentions are not to discredit any accomplished commentator but only to discharge the not-so good ones. I have been traumatized watching cricket hearing to so many of the nonsensical commentators for ages now and the phrase "lazy elegance" has been so abused that it sounds to me like some one is insulting my senses every time I hear it, Anything in this world is only as interesting as it is predictable and commentary is no different

  • POSTED BY MasterfulStars on | June 13, 2008, 8:04 GMT

    Yes. It is absolutely true that the commentary in the recent years has lost its beauty. We no longer see the Tony Grieg and Bill Lawry shouting and jumping. That made the game interesting. But now no one knows how to do the commentary. They speak all unnecessary things rather than concentrating on cricket.

  • POSTED BY springonion on | June 13, 2008, 7:51 GMT

    Very good read. I think they're doing a similar thing during the Kitply Cup at the moment. To be honest, it's ridiculous, and hopefully this 'innovation' won't catch on. Can you imagine a goal in football being a 'Barclays Goal' or in rugby a 'Guinness Try'. Common sense surely has to prevail.

  • POSTED BY Farce-Follower on | June 13, 2008, 7:50 GMT

    Nice one, Osman. Gavaskar has always been over-hyped. He is highly opinionated and uses clinches. Not a match passes without him exhibiting his senility. I would be more generous to Shastri. He does have some method to his commentary. And his opinions are match situation based, unlike Gavaskar, who is personality driven.

    Rameez and Ranjit Fernando are middle of the road. No great shakes but no harm either.

    The best are definitely Tony Cozier and Harsha Bhogle (though he does have some more distance to reach the venerable West Indian).

  • POSTED BY Otto_Fister on | June 13, 2008, 7:41 GMT

    I think its a little harsh to say that channel nine ruined it all... I mean they did do a lot of good in accelerating the standard of coverage ie. more than 2 cameras, statistics etc.

    One thing I will agree with is the standard of ex-player commentators - Botham and Gavaskar case in point... brilliant players who unfortunately seem unable to get the patriotic/idiotic chip off their shoulders. The Ashes defeats have scarred Hussein too greatly, otherwise he has promise. Atherton seems our last, great hope (for balance, intelligence)as the new Benaud... I had great hopes for Bhogle but since his amazing debut season on Australian radio he has become as facile and commercially compromised as the rest of his pack.

    I have a feeling that the problem rooted in generational change... we entered the 'me generation' years ago (where arrogance replaced modesty as the new form of sophistication), to the great detriment of commentary.

  • POSTED BY VijaySh on | June 13, 2008, 7:37 GMT

    Its astonishing that despite so much money now sloshing about cricket, how little attention seems to have been paid to the process of inflicting commentators on millions of cricket fans. The basic problem is a total lack of objective evaluation of the quality of what these people are dishing out. I wonder how do the TV channels decide who to employ and for how much? They seem to have no feedback mechanism. They could be pushing commercial interests if they have to, and still add some cricket insight or provide info that the viewers can't already see. Most, if not all, seem untrained in speaking on camera, are not objective, lack insights or have a grip on what viewers might find interesting. If only I got a dollar every time I think when Sivaramakrishnan says "everything is rite about that shot" for every four or Arun Lal pushes his pathetic tiger conservation cause or Bill Lawry mouths his biased comment in that constipated voice...

  • POSTED BY zingzangspillip on | June 13, 2008, 7:32 GMT

    Many is the time I've turned the volume down on the TV and turned the radio on. Not only am I spared the volume of advertisements between overs, I get much better commentary from the ABC team. The ABC uses ex-players as well, and although they do sometimes get too much on the home side, they are never treading water. Former leg spinner Kerry O'Keeffe is one of the best commentators I've ever heard, and it is perhaps his lack of status as a player that has prevented him ending up on television. Having given them a rap, ex-players often make watching cricket on TV intolerable. I am often unable to watch FOX Sports' broadcasts of our domestic one-day cup because the commentary is so awful. All from great players like Allan Border and Mark Waugh, who wouldn't be heard dead on the ABC. Guess it doesn't matter how good you are, as long as you have a name people recognize.

  • POSTED BY Rahul_Vasudevan on | June 13, 2008, 7:19 GMT

    Harsha Bhogle, Ravi Shastri , Sunil Gavaskar and Sanjay Manjrekar are the top class commentators in India (and the subcontinent). BSkyB, Channel Nine and ESPN Star Sports are the only cricket broadcasters which serve the viewers with top class cricket commentary. Wonder why ESPN Star has failed to sign up Sanjay Manjrekar and Tony Greig given that they had the first mover advantage in India. I also don't understand why Wasim Akram is still an exclusive commentator with ESS.

  • POSTED BY whisperingDeathMach2 on | June 13, 2008, 6:58 GMT

    ramiz raja and aamir sohail are the worst commentators...ramiz raja seems to have memorized certain phrases and words which he uses over and over again. As for aamir sohail, i think he needs to go back to school. His grasp of the English language is embarrassing

    it makes me cringe listening to these guys.. a very good piece Osman...

  • POSTED BY rnarayan on | June 13, 2008, 6:53 GMT

    I agree the that the commentary was pathetic. What was particularly nauseating was the way grown men, great sportsman in their own right, transformed themselves into lap dogs - Modi as "Moses"? Give us a break! I don't mind commentators plugging the sponsors occasionally, but allocating events on the field to a sponsor is more than irritating. What next? Ravi Shastri telling us, say, that "Gambhir has moved from "Airtel" point Third "Bajaj Pulsar"Man?".I have seen the Promised Land, and the prospect does not appeal.

  • POSTED BY Anurag_India on | June 13, 2008, 6:48 GMT

    Osman should restrict himself to expressing an opinion, not sitting in judgment. Sure the commentators were promoting brands, and excessively so at times but that was their brief. Sponsors paid for it. Commentators as professionals did what their contract demanded them of. You as a journalist should express opinion and not resort to statement such as: "Shastri and Gavaskar used to be among India's most respected commentators". Distasteful IMO.

  • POSTED BY ssjumbo on | June 13, 2008, 6:40 GMT

    best commentator in my view is easily Ian Chappell. He is the only one who sounds like he has played and thought at the highest level. Gavaskar for all his experience sounds no different from Harsha Bogle or Charu sharma. Ravi Shastri is the worst -" the key is to score runs and take early wickets'- we need an expert for this??? Dean Jones who was superb as a batting analyst in terms of batting technique. Greatest thing that has happened to Indian cricket is getting rid of Sidhu - A man who walked out of the team because he was asked to bat at no 3 talking about team work. Ravi Shastri, for all the matches he has single handedly ruined for India shouldn't even be allowed to watch a ODI. Remember his innings at 1992 world cup Vs OZ where he scored 50 out of 110 balls and India lost by 1 run and next match he did the same thing and India lost by 5-6 runs. One has to admit that OZs are the best whether it is playing or commentating.

  • POSTED BY PrakashES on | June 13, 2008, 6:22 GMT

    I think it is a timely article by Osman. The cricket commentary as well as cricket journalism (as rightly pointed out in another article in cricinfo) in the sub continent is pathetic. As The_Warrior rightly said "Laxman Sivaramakrishnan is a rubbish commentator, and yet he is repeatedly selected.". The same can be said of others such as Arun Lal, Ramiz Raja, Amer Sohail, etc. Sanjay Manjrekar is tolerable. Gavaskar and Shastri used to be good in the past but they have come down to the level of the others of late. I think the best writer now is Atherton. Best commentators are Naser Hussein, Atherton, Gower, Holding and Boycott. Ian Cahppel is ok but best in Australian is Mark Taylor.

  • POSTED BY Ajay42 on | June 13, 2008, 6:21 GMT

    Brilliant article...one of the best I've read on Cricinfo.The IPL will cannibalize the game as we've known it. It's like sports in the USA...brash, in your face and unapologetic and devoid of any finesse, as most commentary is becoming. Channel Nine started the rot, with jingoists like, first, Lawry and then Healy. ESPN Star had, thus far, seemed to be above the rot. Things might be changing there but I'd take Shastri and Bhogle any day over a lot of the trash that masquerades as commentary these days...Charu Sharma included. His condescending smirk is stomach turning and he knows about as much about cricket as that bimbette, Ms Bedi, of whom I hope I've seen the last.

  • POSTED BY Makkiheb on | June 13, 2008, 6:03 GMT

    Well! Does it really matter if the commentators 'sold' products? Wasn't IPL supposed to be a money-driven exercise with cricket/entertainment as the wheels? I would definitely disagree when Osman says that Manjrekar is a decent commentator. Far from it....Surprising that Ravi Shastri's name is missing from that list. As for the analysis after the matches, well it was just an extended gossip-session at best but take it easy guys!! IPL was never expected to be a critique's choice...

  • POSTED BY HCronje on | June 13, 2008, 5:58 GMT

    I fully agree with Suneel. This is one event where such commentaries were justified. These professional commentators will all resume normal service in other tournaments. Tune in to the tri-series in Bangladesh. BY THE WAY WHY DO I SEE ADVERTISEMENTS ON THIS PAGE? ARE YOU ANY DIFFERENT MR. OSMAN SAMIUDDIN? GET IT?!?

  • POSTED BY dip5 on | June 13, 2008, 5:56 GMT

    ya mostly i agree, but u didn't touch mr akram. easily the worst ever. charu doesn't deserve mention here. sanjay is good at analysis and stuff but not in the idiot box sound card. you simply can't compare English/australian commentators with Asians. arun and shiva are there because they are simple people and probably good human beings. But after some years all these (Asian) sound very repetitive for most Asian ears. I personally prefer a couple of Australians and few Englishmen as the best commentators. you have to please your boss. Thats what all people do,and ever excitable Asians are good at that.

  • POSTED BY Dushy_Board on | June 13, 2008, 5:35 GMT

    Most irritating thing is when bowler's pitch map is shown. When pitch map is concentrated then bowler is disciplined if bowler is doing well otherwise he is very predictable. Same way if pitch map is scattered then bowler has varieties if bowler is doing well other wise he is not disciplined.

  • POSTED BY JohnnyRook on | June 13, 2008, 5:33 GMT

    Can't agree more. IPL had really sickening commentary. But I gotta disagree on Sanjay Manjrekar being a good commentator. His thoughts can be summed as "Whatever Australians do is good. Whatever Indians do is bad". Also if Siddhu is a nationalist commentator I wander what is Ian Healy. A quote from him "We need a wicket"

  • POSTED BY 3apo on | June 13, 2008, 5:17 GMT

    While dropping ad words have been a recent phenomenon, bad commentary has been too rampant in the subcontinent to be news. Try Ranjit Fernando who speaks with such an accent that he cant pronounce sri Lankan players names correctly. or try Arun Lal, or Rameez Raja, who's command over the language will make my high school English teacher rise from the dead and give them a good hiding. I wonder if the Indian commentators ever thought clearly about their game, so as to be insightful?

  • POSTED BY vikram-son-of-bala on | June 13, 2008, 5:09 GMT

    I only hope BCCI sees that there is as much to be made by selling the TV rights of broadcasts to many channels as there is to one ... and if they do tat, then these channels will have to compete with each other for the quality of broadcasting and commentary and analysis .... Like Gideon suggests ..

  • POSTED BY PG65 on | June 13, 2008, 4:54 GMT

    Usman this is a classic piece on the deplorable state of commentary during the IPL. What was stupefying was the rubbish dished out by those purveyors of junk masquerading as lead anchors namely Shiv & Sameer. They were clueless about the nuances of the game and their questions were laced with inanities with their abrupt "what do you think" forcing the poor experts like Rameez, Shastri etc. to comment on the Bollywood showpiece during the final. This was downright ridiculous and farcical. IPL is on the verge of fusing Bollywood and cricket and this potent combination can have dangerous repercussions in the commentary box. Tinsel town hotties now have the gumption to comment about how cricket ought to be played which is nothing but a dumbed down version of commentary. What is desperately needed are commentators with insight and courage to speak about the game and not about its peripheral activities. The sooner we spot them the better will it augur for the richness of this game.

  • POSTED BY rpramod on | June 13, 2008, 4:42 GMT

    There is some truth in the fact that Commentators are not as good as they used to be. This to me is because there are that many more broadcasters and each have a bunch of commentators signed up. When demand for commentators is high, the quality is diluted.

    The IPL is a very different case. It is a different brand of cricket and as long as the DLF maximums and Citi Moments are limited to the IPL (or maybe 20-20) it is fine.

    Most commentators are biased towards their own country and I guess that thats one scenario where we can say that commentary has gone beyond just calling the game as it is.

    While you do make a point about commentary in general, falling in standards, I think you have over-reacted in this article.

    And yes - its no fault of Gavaskars or Shashtris that they have to call a six a DLF maximum.

  • POSTED BY aditya87 on | June 13, 2008, 4:26 GMT

    I agree totally...the commentary during the IPL could have been good if they didn't keep repeating those "DLF maximum" and the "Citi moment of success" things over and over again. It was like they were advertising soap or something...just pathetic. The commentary standard on the subcontinent has always been bad, because people don't realize that on TV you don't need to describe what can already be seen...you are supposed to offer analysis of your own. I think Ravi Shastri, Harsha Bhogle, and Ramiz Raja are very good, and Gavaskar, Manjrekar and Arun Lal have had their moments. But the latter three tend to get carried away talking about the same things I sometimes wonder whether they have OCD or something.

  • POSTED BY The_Warrior on | June 13, 2008, 4:23 GMT

    I have been begging for someone to write on this particular subject. What has worried me more than the alarming drop in commentating standards has been the lack of concern about it! Laxman Sivaramakrishnan is a rubbish commentator, and yet he is repeatedly selected. One wonders if this is due to an adherence to the network's policy vis-a-vis the aforementioned sponsors, or perhaps just by virtue of being an ex-player with 'commentating experience'. As far as partisan commentating goes, I do think Sky is the only network holding out. Apart from Holding, Chappelli and perhaps Shastri/Manjrekar, the past few seasons of cricket viewing have been exercises of filtering out deep-rooted regional biases in commentary. Having lived in Australia, I can safely say that in their own way they (especially Healy!) have been the worst, in that regard. I leave you with a Healy quote: "[After a Sri Lankan misfield] A misfield...well, at least they erred with enthusiasm, and not with 'slackness'"

  • POSTED BY IPLFan on | June 13, 2008, 4:18 GMT

    agree with jeptic and srekh. Just another case of Cricinfo trying to appear holier-than-thou and quoting the usual suspects (Haigh, Martin-Jenkins and others). How does it matter whether they describe a six as a "marvelous shot" or a "DLF Maximum"? Viewers don't care. They are watching it for cricket and the entertainment.

  • POSTED BY justjonty on | June 13, 2008, 4:12 GMT

    Well done Osman! Really good article.But my only problem is your article included sound bytes from Charu Sharma.Mate he is hopeless and so is Sanjay Manjrekar whom you said commands respect.Ian Healy is as Australian as it gets and it is irritating to hear him go on and on about australia(if anyone doubts me watch the Channel nine feed of Ashes 06.In a spell by Monty in the third test all that Healy wanted to do was convince viewers that Monty was no good).But you are right when you say that overall standards have dipped and the DLF-IPL was the nadir.And as viewers we dont have a choice,do we?

  • POSTED BY NumberXI on | June 13, 2008, 4:09 GMT

    Ah yes, the inevitable Gavaskar-is-a-green-chaser letter. I assume people like those live on deserted islands and receive a ticker update for the keyword "Gavaskar" which is why they seem to totally and conveniently ignore the obsequious behaviour of the ECB which even allowed the turf of Lord to be converted into a helipad merely because the chopper came bearing lots of greenbacks - and that too in a box, literally. And alongside Giles Clarke and his lot, posing with silly beatific expressions were the likes of Viv Richards, Ian Botham, Garry Sobers etc. Yes indeed, they have all done lots for the sport, but Gavaskar is a green chaser.

  • POSTED BY suneel.biotech on | June 13, 2008, 4:09 GMT

    Mr. Samiuddin, i think you have got it wrong. it seem your ideas are preconceived. Ravi shastri, sunil gavaskar and many others have been commenting for decades. this in one odd tournament where priority is given to razzmatazzes rather than to cricket. so lets get on with this. dont think that IPL is responsible for falling standards of commentary. it would be outrageous to say that.i presume ex cricketers from subcontinent dont consider it as a serious profession . if u could ask wasim akram he would be better able to answer, what he really enjoys -commenting on espn star or coaching pakistan cricket team.(don't ask me how he commentates)

  • POSTED BY NumberXI on | June 13, 2008, 4:05 GMT

    Osman Samiuddin's complaints, and his criticism of the commentators is strange. How does he know, for instance, that the description of sixes and "moments of success" was merely something the commentators chose to say, and not something that was part of the IPL sponsorship deal? Sure it sounded strange, but anyone with an awareness of sport as it is presented nowadays would only be too aware of these things. Coming from a regular cricket writer these comments sound too full of naivete and criticism-for-the-sake-of-it.

  • POSTED BY krishys76 on | June 13, 2008, 4:01 GMT

    We (I and my cricket team mates) were joking on similar lines recently at a league that it will not too far when we start hearing branded cricket terms like 'TVS legbreak', 'MRF yorker' etc. On serious note it is getting to levels where I mute the audio while watching matches. I fear is that it will not remain a IPL only phenomenon but will definitely spread into ODI and test matched. Just imagine listening this kind of braded commentary over a test match........

  • POSTED BY mcswiggle on | June 13, 2008, 3:55 GMT

    Good points here, not sure how you missed Ravi Shastri's pathetic mis-calling of the last ball of the Roylas-Mumbai match; he said that the bowler had fielded it (he had not) and then that the batsman was run out when he was safe! Two massive errors on one ball must be the worst single piece of commentary on any sport ever.

    You can extend the point to the written word too, Twenty20 will has and never will produce any good journalism or literature. There really are only so many ways you can describe a slog to the boundary, and no amount of money can cover up the shallowness of this awful form of cricket.

  • POSTED BY SidLovesIndia on | June 13, 2008, 3:48 GMT

    I am so glad at last someone brought up the point of the ridiculous commentary during the IPL. The 'DLF maximum' and 'Citi moment of success' were beaten to death so very badly by all, that I sometimes wondered if Lalit Modi had based the commentators' base salary on the use of those terms. I dearly hope that commentators do not become another advertising resource, but then again that seems only wishful thinking. The mute button on the remote (or on the PC as I seem to watch cricket nowadays) might just need to be used more often. What's happening to the precious game of cricket...

  • POSTED BY Rodzilla1010 on | June 13, 2008, 3:47 GMT

    Usman, You have written a wonderful article. Since the IPL started, i never complained about the masses watching, the players playing it but the commentators??? Not even a single commentator ever criticized a top edge going for a six or a 4...And they were not just commentators, they almost had the authority to write a Bible on the sport. But lets forget it and move on. I have a smirk on my face, next time Sunny talks about a high elbow.

  • POSTED BY Srijoym on | June 13, 2008, 3:46 GMT

    A great and incisive article. And a long time coming too. The standards of commentary in the sub-continent are appealing and indeed, embarrassing, considering the talent available. And the IPL has brought out (or should I say bought out) the worst in the lot. Sadly, once these names like Shastri, Gavaskar, Lal were not such a bad bunch. They were no Benaud or Holding but were not half as repugnant as they are now. Gavaskar has made his love for the green stuff clear many a time, not least when he chose to remain with the media rather than the ICC. It is sad that men like him are still cashing in on their names. He has not done one decent thing for the game since his retirement other than stirring the pot. On the other hand, imagine Benaud commentating an IPL match! What would he say? "A marvelous DLF maximum there!

    P.S. - Please ESPN Star! Get some good guys! Listening to a seasoned pair during a Test is so soothing to the ears! I'm sure quality counts as much as razzmatazz!

  • POSTED BY vswami on | June 13, 2008, 3:43 GMT

    Gavaskar and Shastri are good commentators, IPL or not. The issue is that in its first year and with incredible investments in place, they were taking no chances with the sponsors. Maybe next year, when IPL is more comfortably placed, and the sustainability of IPL assured, things will be back to normal. The positioning of the tournament is very clear from day one, entertainment for the Indian audience. So the product conforms to this. And the results seem to justify it. Have you heard of the remote control .. usually it has a switch off button in case you dont like the product you are watching.

  • POSTED BY Samson on | June 13, 2008, 3:30 GMT

    Right on Mr. Samiuddin!! There was another lovable chap of the fame of Henry Blofield (& his admiration of ear-rings) besides the Bhogles and the Boycotts. Charu Sharma is the Sonali Bendre of cricket, made to commentate, but... Also, I disagree with your impression of Gavaskar (& I am a Mumbaiyite!) but all that is minuscule compared to the farcical commentary during the IPL. I distinctly remember Arun Lal correcting himself to exclaim a DLF maximum, probably after somebody kicked his rear. How nice it would be if we could just mute the commentators and turn on the stump-mics instead!!

  • POSTED BY Cooknz on | June 13, 2008, 3:17 GMT

    Well done, Osman. These are very interesting times for cricket and it is now more than ever that media commentators of all forms need to maintain a critical gaze. 20/20 cricket itself may not be the monster it is made out to be, but the pure and selfish market forces behind its rise certainly are.

  • POSTED BY Jeptic on | June 13, 2008, 3:16 GMT

    Wow..I am tempted to say that you are a Pakistani and the competition is a great success in India, and hence your comments! My friend, you missed the boat - only people with a dismal outlook on life can see more than ONE BILLION people look at sheer entertainment and find a depressing aspect. It is about cricket and fun and EVERYONE HAD BOTH. The best part is when my mom, 74, said that she love it because her sickness does not allow her to look at an 8-hour game. She was even keeping a tab on who wins each game. We printed the schedule from the Internet and she was keeping her own table. This, I am sure, is the case with many more fans. and if that is the result, then your paltry analysis is as poor as your innate bias is strong!! Wake up and smell the coffee!!!

  • POSTED BY Srekh on | June 13, 2008, 3:02 GMT

    With due respect, the criticism against the IPL is getting a bit too much especially from the experts. I just have one observation, when the public doesn't mind the razzmatazz, should others bother? The column writers are not in charge of public opinion, so when we like something please let it be.Let us have our fun without wining about its purity!

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  • POSTED BY Srekh on | June 13, 2008, 3:02 GMT

    With due respect, the criticism against the IPL is getting a bit too much especially from the experts. I just have one observation, when the public doesn't mind the razzmatazz, should others bother? The column writers are not in charge of public opinion, so when we like something please let it be.Let us have our fun without wining about its purity!

  • POSTED BY Jeptic on | June 13, 2008, 3:16 GMT

    Wow..I am tempted to say that you are a Pakistani and the competition is a great success in India, and hence your comments! My friend, you missed the boat - only people with a dismal outlook on life can see more than ONE BILLION people look at sheer entertainment and find a depressing aspect. It is about cricket and fun and EVERYONE HAD BOTH. The best part is when my mom, 74, said that she love it because her sickness does not allow her to look at an 8-hour game. She was even keeping a tab on who wins each game. We printed the schedule from the Internet and she was keeping her own table. This, I am sure, is the case with many more fans. and if that is the result, then your paltry analysis is as poor as your innate bias is strong!! Wake up and smell the coffee!!!

  • POSTED BY Cooknz on | June 13, 2008, 3:17 GMT

    Well done, Osman. These are very interesting times for cricket and it is now more than ever that media commentators of all forms need to maintain a critical gaze. 20/20 cricket itself may not be the monster it is made out to be, but the pure and selfish market forces behind its rise certainly are.

  • POSTED BY Samson on | June 13, 2008, 3:30 GMT

    Right on Mr. Samiuddin!! There was another lovable chap of the fame of Henry Blofield (& his admiration of ear-rings) besides the Bhogles and the Boycotts. Charu Sharma is the Sonali Bendre of cricket, made to commentate, but... Also, I disagree with your impression of Gavaskar (& I am a Mumbaiyite!) but all that is minuscule compared to the farcical commentary during the IPL. I distinctly remember Arun Lal correcting himself to exclaim a DLF maximum, probably after somebody kicked his rear. How nice it would be if we could just mute the commentators and turn on the stump-mics instead!!

  • POSTED BY vswami on | June 13, 2008, 3:43 GMT

    Gavaskar and Shastri are good commentators, IPL or not. The issue is that in its first year and with incredible investments in place, they were taking no chances with the sponsors. Maybe next year, when IPL is more comfortably placed, and the sustainability of IPL assured, things will be back to normal. The positioning of the tournament is very clear from day one, entertainment for the Indian audience. So the product conforms to this. And the results seem to justify it. Have you heard of the remote control .. usually it has a switch off button in case you dont like the product you are watching.

  • POSTED BY Srijoym on | June 13, 2008, 3:46 GMT

    A great and incisive article. And a long time coming too. The standards of commentary in the sub-continent are appealing and indeed, embarrassing, considering the talent available. And the IPL has brought out (or should I say bought out) the worst in the lot. Sadly, once these names like Shastri, Gavaskar, Lal were not such a bad bunch. They were no Benaud or Holding but were not half as repugnant as they are now. Gavaskar has made his love for the green stuff clear many a time, not least when he chose to remain with the media rather than the ICC. It is sad that men like him are still cashing in on their names. He has not done one decent thing for the game since his retirement other than stirring the pot. On the other hand, imagine Benaud commentating an IPL match! What would he say? "A marvelous DLF maximum there!

    P.S. - Please ESPN Star! Get some good guys! Listening to a seasoned pair during a Test is so soothing to the ears! I'm sure quality counts as much as razzmatazz!

  • POSTED BY Rodzilla1010 on | June 13, 2008, 3:47 GMT

    Usman, You have written a wonderful article. Since the IPL started, i never complained about the masses watching, the players playing it but the commentators??? Not even a single commentator ever criticized a top edge going for a six or a 4...And they were not just commentators, they almost had the authority to write a Bible on the sport. But lets forget it and move on. I have a smirk on my face, next time Sunny talks about a high elbow.

  • POSTED BY SidLovesIndia on | June 13, 2008, 3:48 GMT

    I am so glad at last someone brought up the point of the ridiculous commentary during the IPL. The 'DLF maximum' and 'Citi moment of success' were beaten to death so very badly by all, that I sometimes wondered if Lalit Modi had based the commentators' base salary on the use of those terms. I dearly hope that commentators do not become another advertising resource, but then again that seems only wishful thinking. The mute button on the remote (or on the PC as I seem to watch cricket nowadays) might just need to be used more often. What's happening to the precious game of cricket...

  • POSTED BY mcswiggle on | June 13, 2008, 3:55 GMT

    Good points here, not sure how you missed Ravi Shastri's pathetic mis-calling of the last ball of the Roylas-Mumbai match; he said that the bowler had fielded it (he had not) and then that the batsman was run out when he was safe! Two massive errors on one ball must be the worst single piece of commentary on any sport ever.

    You can extend the point to the written word too, Twenty20 will has and never will produce any good journalism or literature. There really are only so many ways you can describe a slog to the boundary, and no amount of money can cover up the shallowness of this awful form of cricket.

  • POSTED BY krishys76 on | June 13, 2008, 4:01 GMT

    We (I and my cricket team mates) were joking on similar lines recently at a league that it will not too far when we start hearing branded cricket terms like 'TVS legbreak', 'MRF yorker' etc. On serious note it is getting to levels where I mute the audio while watching matches. I fear is that it will not remain a IPL only phenomenon but will definitely spread into ODI and test matched. Just imagine listening this kind of braded commentary over a test match........