October 9, 2011

Whose sides are the commentators on?

Several commentators on the international circuit today represent players and boards outside of their duties in the box. Even if they can somehow manage to be unbiased, can we trust them?
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"The pâté was fantastic," exclaimed Tony Greig.

Mr Greig was talking about a restaurant he had been to the night before. He didn't say whether he had paid for his meal or not. I'm not really into pâté, but if it was a legitimately good meal, and not a freebie for a TV plug, I might visit the place. Then Greig told me about how the roads are in Sri Lanka right now. They're really good, tourists would be surprised how good they are. There was also more than one mention of Little Lankans. When he says this I assume he isn't referring to Arjuna Ranatunga or Dilhara Fernando. And he finished with something that sounded like "Australia will be looking for runs here; conversely Sri Lanka are hoping for wickets." That may be the most genius description of cricket ever, or he was assuming no one was listening. They were the sort of cricket commentating moments that give people Greigrage, which is not a limited-edition print (framed or unframed) you can get through Channel Nine.

There was a time when these antics from Greig would have meant I'd throw something at the TV, but it was another commentator who bothered me during this series: Roshan Abeysinghe, talking about a player he managed, without ever referring to the fact that he managed him. I'd only just found out during Sri Lanka's tour of England that Abeysinghe was Tillakaratne Dilshan and Thilina Kandamby's manager. Actually, had he not told me so at a charity cricket match, I wouldn't know he was an agent. To me he was just another voice on the global cricket commentary circuit. Now I was listening to Abeysinghe commentate on Dilshan, and it had a whole new meaning. It felt wrong. Perhaps most fans know Abeysinghe has a vested interest in Dilshan, but I seriously doubt it. When he told me about his other career, he assured me he is 100% unbiased when it comes to talk of his players. I have no doubt he thinks he is, and he may even be, but if people don't know he has a vested interest, is that fair?

If commentators have financial interests that may influence their opinions, shouldn't we be told of those allegiances to players, or boards, when they are discussing them?

It's not easy to do. Alec Stewart does it as well as any person in cricket I've seen. Stewart used to be Matt Prior's agent. At a press day back in 2009 he was asked whether Prior was the right man for England, and he said that as his agent it was hard to answer. He then took off his Matt Prior hat (his words, not mine) and went on to discuss why he believed, as a neutral observer and former England wicketkeeper, that Prior was the best option. Stewart clearly wasn't wrong - Prior is now as good as any keeper-batsman in Test cricket. And Stewart, when discussing Prior, especially his limited-overs omission, was at pains to state that he was Prior's agent. He can't, however, do it in every sentence.

Mark Taylor is another who regularly mentions his role on Cricket Australia's board of directors whilst speaking on Channel Nine, although mostly it is mentioned as a punchline by the other commentators.

Others don't seem to try anywhere near as much. Throughout the whole summer of listening to Ian Botham talk about Kevin Pietersen, I can't remember a single time when he mentioned he's the chairman of the agency that represents Pietersen. Like in the Abeysinghe or Greig situations, he may have mentioned it, but either way I didn't hear it. In Botham's case I'm not sure I have ever heard him talk about it. I'm sure he has, but it's not exactly that prevalent. You'd have to believe that the average English cricket fan probably has no idea. Michael Vaughan is also involved in a sports agency with many young English hopefuls on its list, some of whom debuted this summer. Yet again, I just can't recall a time when it was mentioned while he was commentating this summer.

The problem is that if we don't know who is getting paid by whom, how can we make an educated decision on whom to trust? Did the batsman miss that brilliant unplayable ball as described by the commentator, or was it, in fact, a career-defining terrible shot?

The most famous recent case has to be that of Ravi Shastri and Sunil Gavaskar, constrained by their BCCI contracts to follow the board's love train on key issues (I mean, it isn't as if we can just switch to another BCCI, or vote them out, so why do they even need spin doctors?). And if Shastri and Gavaskar are receiving funds for kind words, how do we know other commentators haven't been given the same? Sky and the ECB are very close, and Channel Nine and Cricket Australia are inseparable. Shastri, Gavaskar, Botham, Abeysinghe and Vaughan would claim to be unbiased people who still give their opinions no matter who pays them. That's a touching sentiment, and I hope it's true, but money changes opinions every day. If these are the ones you can find with a bit of internet research, how do we know there aren't more deals under the table that may affect the commentary?

It's an inevitable situation, because cricket is a small, incestuous industry. Almost everyone has several deals, multiple jobs, and works in almost every part of cricket. Allan Border was a commentator and selector, Merv Hughes was a selector and tour operator, Alistair Campbell commentated whilst selecting, Ashley Giles is a county coach and a selector, and Daniel Vettori was a coach, selector, bowler, batsman, captain and bus driver. People in cricket never seem to have just the one job; it's like occasionally high-paid seasonal work.

There is also bias with no financial gain involved, in print, TV and radio. When Shane Warne tells you just how brilliant a young Rajasthan/Hampshire/Victoria player is, he is usually biased. Few people in history have had a higher opinion of their team-mates than Warne. How else would you explain his inclusion of Darren Berry and Jamie Siddons in his list of the greatest 50 cricketers he'd played with or against? Cricket reporting, no matter the medium, is never going to be completely unbiased. If a young legspinner takes three wickets on the same day a young offspinner does, you can bet my bias will be pretty damn clear towards the legspinner. And if that legspinner is from Victoria, I may end up reporting his three wickets like they were the greatest ever taken.

For whatever reason, it's the financial rather than parochial bias that cuts the deepest, perhaps because it's the easiest to hide. The problem is that if we don't know who is getting paid by whom, how can we make an educated decision on whom to trust? Did the batsman miss that brilliant unplayable ball as described by the commentator, or was it, in fact, a career-defining terrible shot? If we know the background, we can at least have a chance of seeing through the subtext, but without that we are just being treated like fools by the very people who have made their money from our subscription fees.

Television and radio commentators are our frontline. If you don't like ESPNcricinfo because of Walt Disney, or you find the Guardian's cricket coverage too bleeding-heart liberal, there is always another cricket website or newspaper for you to go to. With commentary we are stuck with what we have. At best we can choose between two options - radio or TV - or, in dire situations, the mute button. This makes TV by far the most powerful tool in cricket. It stands erect and massive over all other forms of cricket media, like a magnificent golem that was made to bring cricket to the people. Like a golem, it's not perfect, but that doesn't mean we can't ask for better. The voices of these matches are given an extraordinary power and often an exalted position within the game. Some of them truly deserve this, but it may just be that some of them can't be trusted whether talking about players, politics or pâté.

This article was corrected on 11 October 2011 to state that Alec Stewart is no longer Matt Prior's agent

Jarrod Kimber is the editor of Spin magazine, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY bumsonseats on | October 11, 2011, 12:23 GMT

    mike ( thats for sure ) heysman you got to be joking .best thing that happened to him was when he went with allen stanford the guys a joke.dpk

  • POSTED BY on | October 10, 2011, 21:07 GMT

    Great piece JK. Hope you are well on the Test match Sofa. cheers Lozza

  • POSTED BY InnocentGuy on | October 10, 2011, 20:00 GMT

    I fail to see any real issue here. Commentators are paid to voice their opinion and most, if not all, are biases because it's after all their opinions. A genuine cricket lover/follower can see for himself/herself whether or not it was an unplayable delivery or a career-defining terrible shot. To say that the viewer bases all his/her conclusions on what is heard and not what is seen sounds stupid to me.

  • POSTED BY shillingsworth on | October 10, 2011, 19:57 GMT

    @Steepy, You rightly highlight that a commentator should above all bring something to the broadcast. I find it strange that a TV producer cannot appreciate that a commentator who masquerades as an impartial observer without disclosing the reality to the viewer or listener brings very little to a broadcast.

  • POSTED BY Steepy on | October 10, 2011, 18:52 GMT

    I fail to see what the fuss is about. There are plenty of people here offering the good advice of using the radio commentary instead of television if one prefers, or what I have often done, no commentary at all. In my job as the producer of cricket on television, I am required to hire the commentary team. I can say that I have never had the need to ask anyone if they were being paid by someone else. They are hired because they bring something to the broadcast, pure and simple. The article seems to be analysis for analysis sake.

  • POSTED BY bumsonseats on | October 10, 2011, 17:13 GMT

    when the bbc did test cricket on television i always thought richie b was the best even during a home ashes series in uk. but having spent a fair while in australia i could notice the difference during an ashes tour in oz on 9 he was not as cosy. the best of all commentators and tells it as it is on sky in the uk is michael holding and ( and greatest fast bowler ever ). and the worst nasser hussain so sniddy. dpk

  • POSTED BY wibblewibble on | October 10, 2011, 15:35 GMT

    I was in China during the recent ODI World Cup, and although I could get match coverage on my hotel TV, they had decided to take a raw video feed, rather than have any commentary at all!

    At first it was a little strange, then you just get used to it.

    Of course, in the UK, the "other option" is to put on Test Match Special rather than listen to Nasser prattle on. In the end it comes down to a choice - Nasser's donkeys, or TMS's cake. nomnomnom

  • POSTED BY PiyushD on | October 10, 2011, 14:53 GMT

    I dont care if the commentrators are biased, do they have any influence on the match? Let them be loyal, in fact if they were unbiased commentary on TV would be so boring.

  • POSTED BY yenjvoy1 on | October 10, 2011, 13:55 GMT

    I think a lot of readers seemed to have missed the nuance Jarrod brought out between parochial bias and the ethical questions around a commentator with financial interests in the players he is commentating on/about. The point is very valid, that for example, a Beefy commentating on Pietersen's performance, when said Beefy is also KP's agent standing to benefit from KP's performance, is a conflict of interest. At the very least Beefy should disclose that fact publicly and often. If the suggestion were made to Beefy of course, that his comments were colored by his self interest in KP's performance and continued place in the English team, he would be mightily insulted, perhaps rightly so. As a common man viewer of the game on TV, I will never get the chance to ask Beefy that insulting question. However, without a disclaimer from Beefy, we will never know. If KP is beaten all ends up and Beefy says "brilliant leave by the batsman" does he believe it is really so or is he guarding his pay?

  • POSTED BY nasharda on | October 10, 2011, 13:35 GMT

    the speaker can speak what he wants.but the listner should listen intelligently

  • POSTED BY bumsonseats on | October 11, 2011, 12:23 GMT

    mike ( thats for sure ) heysman you got to be joking .best thing that happened to him was when he went with allen stanford the guys a joke.dpk

  • POSTED BY on | October 10, 2011, 21:07 GMT

    Great piece JK. Hope you are well on the Test match Sofa. cheers Lozza

  • POSTED BY InnocentGuy on | October 10, 2011, 20:00 GMT

    I fail to see any real issue here. Commentators are paid to voice their opinion and most, if not all, are biases because it's after all their opinions. A genuine cricket lover/follower can see for himself/herself whether or not it was an unplayable delivery or a career-defining terrible shot. To say that the viewer bases all his/her conclusions on what is heard and not what is seen sounds stupid to me.

  • POSTED BY shillingsworth on | October 10, 2011, 19:57 GMT

    @Steepy, You rightly highlight that a commentator should above all bring something to the broadcast. I find it strange that a TV producer cannot appreciate that a commentator who masquerades as an impartial observer without disclosing the reality to the viewer or listener brings very little to a broadcast.

  • POSTED BY Steepy on | October 10, 2011, 18:52 GMT

    I fail to see what the fuss is about. There are plenty of people here offering the good advice of using the radio commentary instead of television if one prefers, or what I have often done, no commentary at all. In my job as the producer of cricket on television, I am required to hire the commentary team. I can say that I have never had the need to ask anyone if they were being paid by someone else. They are hired because they bring something to the broadcast, pure and simple. The article seems to be analysis for analysis sake.

  • POSTED BY bumsonseats on | October 10, 2011, 17:13 GMT

    when the bbc did test cricket on television i always thought richie b was the best even during a home ashes series in uk. but having spent a fair while in australia i could notice the difference during an ashes tour in oz on 9 he was not as cosy. the best of all commentators and tells it as it is on sky in the uk is michael holding and ( and greatest fast bowler ever ). and the worst nasser hussain so sniddy. dpk

  • POSTED BY wibblewibble on | October 10, 2011, 15:35 GMT

    I was in China during the recent ODI World Cup, and although I could get match coverage on my hotel TV, they had decided to take a raw video feed, rather than have any commentary at all!

    At first it was a little strange, then you just get used to it.

    Of course, in the UK, the "other option" is to put on Test Match Special rather than listen to Nasser prattle on. In the end it comes down to a choice - Nasser's donkeys, or TMS's cake. nomnomnom

  • POSTED BY PiyushD on | October 10, 2011, 14:53 GMT

    I dont care if the commentrators are biased, do they have any influence on the match? Let them be loyal, in fact if they were unbiased commentary on TV would be so boring.

  • POSTED BY yenjvoy1 on | October 10, 2011, 13:55 GMT

    I think a lot of readers seemed to have missed the nuance Jarrod brought out between parochial bias and the ethical questions around a commentator with financial interests in the players he is commentating on/about. The point is very valid, that for example, a Beefy commentating on Pietersen's performance, when said Beefy is also KP's agent standing to benefit from KP's performance, is a conflict of interest. At the very least Beefy should disclose that fact publicly and often. If the suggestion were made to Beefy of course, that his comments were colored by his self interest in KP's performance and continued place in the English team, he would be mightily insulted, perhaps rightly so. As a common man viewer of the game on TV, I will never get the chance to ask Beefy that insulting question. However, without a disclaimer from Beefy, we will never know. If KP is beaten all ends up and Beefy says "brilliant leave by the batsman" does he believe it is really so or is he guarding his pay?

  • POSTED BY nasharda on | October 10, 2011, 13:35 GMT

    the speaker can speak what he wants.but the listner should listen intelligently

  • POSTED BY Gizza on | October 10, 2011, 11:55 GMT

    I suppose this is why my favourite commentator is Richie Benaud. Richie is also biased but his bias is towards cricket! He even tends to respect all 3 forms of the international game at a remarkably equal level. You can tell that he loves the sport more than his country. That is probably the best advice you can give to any commentator except for the old adage "Only say something if you can add something to the television screen". After all we may love England or India or Australia or Zimbabwe or whoever, but we all know that this game is so great because of its international yet not massively international character. All cricket fans in the world are one family. [Having said that Richie from last year started advertising the odds from a betting organisation forgot if it was TAB or SportsBet but alas we are all human :( ]

  • POSTED BY stormy16 on | October 10, 2011, 11:07 GMT

    Interesting point raised by the writter and I guess its a case or ethics - something we humans are awful at, specially when money is involved. I think the more experienced followers know enough to see beyond what the commentators say but alot of us are deeply influenced by them. What really irritates me is the constant focus by the commentators on 'home' teams brilliance or patheticness only while the opponents are totally forgotten. I think the least a commentator should do is to call the game regardless of team but we are back to the ethics issue all over again.

  • POSTED BY Raju_Iyer on | October 10, 2011, 8:21 GMT

    As a young boy , I have enjoyed listening to ball by ball commentary on the radio. Commentators were our eyes and ears and what personalities they were! I can never forget the honey-and-almonds voice of Anant Setalvad, the excited chatter of Suresh Setalvad or the emotional Sushil Doshi in Hindi when describing India's famous win over WI at Port of Spain in 1976. Visiting commentators like Tony Cozier added to the charm. Television is of course a visual medium and you have cameramen panning to pretty faces in the audience and what not. I fully agree with the author's sentiments that it is an incestuous world out there and hard to tell who has what agenda. I find reading the cricinfo live description (even given the time lag) to be a good solution to beat the tedium of the endless plugging of certain players, places and whatever else by most commentators these days.

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | October 10, 2011, 4:39 GMT

    Of course what is said in this article is true. What is surprising to me is that the author seems to think this is a new and previously undiscovered phenomenon. Commentators have ALWAYS had biases, for one reason or another. I don't have any problem with that. I don't need a commentator to tell me whether a player, a game or a format is good or bad. All I'm concerned with is whether the commentators are interesting to listen to or not. Hearing Botham or Warne talk about tactics is interesting, mainly because neither of them has a clue. Botham was a hopeless captain and Warne gets bored so easily that he suggests all kinds of crazy ideas just to entertain himself (listen to him if you don't believe me). Bumble is another - "India already has enough" he said, when India reached 150 in the T20 against England. England knocked off 165 with no trouble. Just accept the commentators as biased, fallible human beings there to entertain you. The only thing a commentator shouldn't be is boring.

  • POSTED BY nasharda on | October 10, 2011, 4:08 GMT

    If you are considering like this this artical is same for Englan commentators as well.why not indian commentators as well.only commentators i would recommend is russel arnold and mike heysmen

  • POSTED BY on | October 10, 2011, 3:17 GMT

    Jarrod, loved the massive, powerful, erect tool bit. Very CWB. That said, what is the alternative? At least these people have played the game at the highest level, and played well. Sunny G, Beefy, even Shashtri and Vaughan have been real players. Would you rather turn it - it being commentary and overall administration - over to people who have never played but are trained professionals? That will lead to American sports media and American sports management. Do we really want Cricket to become that? For all the incest in Cricket, there is a certain amateurism that leaves the sport still accessible and not totally prostituted to money. Despite him having been on Stanford's payroll, I will never believe that King Richards could be bought. Same goes for Beefy, or for Sunny G, or Alan Border. I believe in the game, and you know the game looks just as beautiful if you mute the TV, mute TV and play TestMatchSofa instead. Just yenjvoy the game.

  • POSTED BY bharath74 on | October 10, 2011, 2:37 GMT

    Easy to find neutral umpires but not easy to find neutral commentators. I guess we r used to it now.

  • POSTED BY CricFan78 on | October 10, 2011, 2:37 GMT

    @jmcilhinney Yea Yea we all know English are never at fault even if they poach talent from SA, even if they deliver biased commentary, even if they hype up Ian Bell as a great batsman .... bring on other one mate and for once accept your faults.

  • POSTED BY on | October 10, 2011, 1:48 GMT

    Finally, an article that makes you think!

  • POSTED BY on | October 9, 2011, 23:52 GMT

    Great article. Hope you don't become one of them

  • POSTED BY on | October 9, 2011, 21:24 GMT

    Great piece. You nailed them. I really hate those commentators who glorify tournaments like IPL & CLT20 and players performing in them despite the fact that most of these players have repeatedly failed to perform at international level.

  • POSTED BY spence1324 on | October 9, 2011, 21:01 GMT

    Off topic here,what about favorite commentators?,or duo's, mines bumble and shane warne there could be carnage going on in the middle but that doest stop a good conversion on favorite curry's and shane's fashion trips/skin wear products and early morning fittness seasons!

  • POSTED BY on | October 9, 2011, 16:04 GMT

    @Clint Nelson 'Lara had attacked Warne's bowling much more severely than Tendulkar' That is not true at all , Lara struggled half the times he played warne post 1995, Tendulkar never faced Warne after 2001 (when he toned down his aggression) in ANY form of International cricket, so your statement is wrong. you can research it yourself,Warne is only spinner who never had the better of Tendulkar.

  • POSTED BY the.garuda on | October 9, 2011, 13:37 GMT

    Just watch the cricket on mute.

  • POSTED BY ultimatewarrior on | October 9, 2011, 13:26 GMT

    It is actually one of the most unbiased articles on the site........but for others you can see the articles on same type of cricket usually getting opposite sort of articles i.e.IPL and CLT20, just because one is sponsored by owners of site and one is by other channel.......

  • POSTED BY on | October 9, 2011, 13:16 GMT

    Very good article,Hit the nail on the head.Commentators really need to be within their limits and maintain a balanced stance.As an Indian Fan,I am sick with some of the commentators like Harsha,Sunny and Shastri.The Indian team is losing in England and these people are talking of IPL and Champions League.

  • POSTED BY on | October 9, 2011, 12:51 GMT

    Excellent post. If Nasir Hossein, David Lloyd, Geoff Boycot and Ganguly are not on the panel I turn off the TV sound.

    Pervez

  • POSTED BY on | October 9, 2011, 12:41 GMT

    Great piece Jarrod. As a seasoned cynic (aka journalist) I have mastered the art of hitting the mute button. I sleep a whole lot better.

  • POSTED BY DCLaurie on | October 9, 2011, 12:29 GMT

    Actually Jarod, we do have a choice to mute the commentators, there's an alternative commentary service called Test Match Sofa who provide an unbiased calling of the game, regular cricket fans commentating on what they see. I don't know if you've ever heard of them, they have an aussie commentator who sounds a little bit like you on sometimes. I'm sure if you just google Test Match Sofa you'll be able to find them.

  • POSTED BY on | October 9, 2011, 12:14 GMT

    Harsha bhogle is very biased for a guy who hasn't played int'l cricket at all! I think Russell Arnold is a very good analytical commentator.

  • POSTED BY popcorn on | October 9, 2011, 12:08 GMT

    I can think of one commentator who is unbiased - Sanjay Manjrekar. and he is brilliant and analytical.I remember he used to incisive. I remember he used to commentate very well for Ten Sports in Sri Lanka for their matches.

  • POSTED BY JustinCpt on | October 9, 2011, 12:04 GMT

    I agree but with Warne he always mentions he has been working with the player in practice.His been bowiling with the youngster etc.... Its obvious he is gna like them isnt it??A person is surely goin 2 be more biased towards their team or team mates?? Do u expect Warne to sit there and go on about the how good the other teams youngsters are?I dont have a problem with this type of commentary,it isnt harmful or for financial gain,it just relates to what Warne knows, an insiders view of the Royals.I mean there is no cricketing knowledge test 2 be a commentator so the commentators are gonna talk bout what they know best and thats usually about their particular country or team.South Africa has alot of odd n funny commentators,Craig Marais, constantly mumbles about storys from the good old days.Then we have Neil Johnson who gives extra credit 2 most players. I quote "Oh look at him his trying so hard what a Nuggety little character" when watchn a minow players scrape 20 odd runs 2getha LOL

  • POSTED BY on | October 9, 2011, 11:53 GMT

    Great article. However, my answer to your question regarding 'which commentator to trust' is: 'do like me and trust none of them'. Once you understand the game of cricket, you can do your own players' analysis - it is the simplest of the 'Rocket Sciences' - even though those who have the privilege to go on TV around the world would make you feel that only a genius can correctly analyse the ability of a cricketer - nonsense! Here's an example to back up your point: When the lucrative Indian IPL was early in its making, Shane Warne made a statement on TV saying, 'Tendulkar first, daylight second, and Lara third', in comparing their batting abilities. That is after Lara had attacked his bowling much more severely than Tendulkar. But, Warne was the first non-Indian to be made a captain of an IPL team. He later corrected the statement and said that it was difficult to choose between the two; but he'll give the edge to Tendulkar because of his impeccable personality. Words have purpose.

  • POSTED BY JohnnyRook on | October 9, 2011, 11:21 GMT

    Brilliant post Jarrod. I agree completely with Ganeshram. I wish my TV set had some way of filtering commentators nonsense while retaining the actual sounds like stadium noise, the sound of bat on ball, appeals etc. On a side note, I don't understand why most pro-BCCI people on this forum are so anti-ECB/CA and vice versa. Dudes, they are exactly the same. They both care only about money and nothing else. In the past, ECB had the power, so it used to walk over others. BCCI has the money right now, so it is walking over others now. Indians who justify BCCI's dictatorial stance on everything should think of that day when BCCI's dominance is going to go away. And it is going to go away one day since nothing in this world lasts forever.

  • POSTED BY Another_brick_in_the_wall on | October 9, 2011, 10:53 GMT

    Brilliant article, neat ! and I have to agree with Born Badd, Harsha Bogle is heights !

  • POSTED BY tfjones1978 on | October 9, 2011, 10:44 GMT

    Commentators arent meant to be unbiased, after all they are commentating on the match, they arent involved in the match. The commentators of one country are usually seen by the viewers of that country. When Australia tours other countries, us Aussies usually see Aussie commentators ... I assume its the same for other countries?

  • POSTED BY Pateldaku on | October 9, 2011, 10:25 GMT

    Nothing new about hiding the truth. I used a 15s clip from MI v CSK to point out a massive mistake by the third umpire where Raina was given out stumping of a No Ball by Wicket Keeper with the Gloves in front of thw stumps.

    So the BCCI decided to get the clip removed claiming copyright violation. There are thousand of Cricket clips on Youtube, which have copyright violation and BCCI could get removed. And the reason this was spotted by them is I tweeted about it and probably the so called unbiased commentators reported it and got it removed.

    I support the Indian team and am a passionate supporter. However when it comes to BCCI they are the Biggest Bully and would hate it for the truth to be known, as Technically the Third Umpire in the CLT20 is their employee.

  • POSTED BY on | October 9, 2011, 9:57 GMT

    usually a fan of Mr Kimber, but to me this article just seems to be knit-picking, comentary is always going to be biased just listen to Mark Waugh talk about anyone that has ever played for NSW, but who cares cammentators are just there to give comments

  • POSTED BY Quazar on | October 9, 2011, 9:55 GMT

    Very good research, Jarrod. And a very worthwhile and enlightening piece. Basically most men in our sport, and in life, are on the side that pays more. And it's saddening. But that's why one needs to think for oneself at all times; even while listening to "experts". (PS: And thanks for not restricting your critique to India and the BCCI. The ECB, CA, their representatives, their motivations and practices, and their roles at the ICC are simply not critiqued enough in the cricket press and fan comments.)

  • POSTED BY Quazar on | October 9, 2011, 9:54 GMT

    Very good research, Jarrod. And a very worthwhile and enlightening piece. Basically most men in our sport, and in life, are on the side that pays more. And it's saddening. But that's why one needs to think for oneself at all times; even while listening to "experts". (PS: And thanks for not restricting your critique to India and the BCCI. The ECB, CA, their representatives, their motivations and practices, and their roles at the ICC are simply not critiqued enough in the cricket press and fan comments.)

  • POSTED BY licec on | October 9, 2011, 9:51 GMT

    Aren't you forgetting Danny Morrison whose commentry makes me get into a rap song kind of mode and Simon Doull whose "take-a-chill-pill" style of commentry slows down the adrenaline level making one feel at peace? Gotta love them really:-)

  • POSTED BY on | October 9, 2011, 9:33 GMT

    Personally I always like listening to Nasser Hussain and Sourav Ganguly making fun of one another now that the battle is over. I think that Gavaskar is an excellent commentator on batting just as Holding is on bowling. Shastri and Botham are a joke. They are both so one sided. Shastri has a clear agenda, which is to defend 20/20 cricket and the IPL. Interestingly Gavaskar does not sing to the same hymn sheet. He often says that while a batsman can move down from tests to other forms, he is not convinced that the reverse is the case. However, as you can see, my interest is tests or at most ODIs.

  • POSTED BY on | October 9, 2011, 9:24 GMT

    why is there not a retirement age for commentators? I have been listening to gavaskar since the day i was born and will prob till the day i will die, he makes cricket 10 times more boring, and he is every where!

  • POSTED BY on | October 9, 2011, 9:20 GMT

    most biased commentator is HARSHA BHOGLE.......keep supporting Mumbai Indians and Sachin .......his speech says everything about his favoritism .....

  • POSTED BY kk777 on | October 9, 2011, 8:58 GMT

    @jmcilhinney: One of the most unbiased comment...I ve read in recent times even more unbiased than the article itself...good to know there are sensible people on the other side as well who don't go crying hoarse on the mistakes and bias of few on my side as an evident lack of reasoning but duly explain their own point of view which in this context...I must say is absolutely correct

  • POSTED BY ganeshram78 on | October 9, 2011, 8:26 GMT

    very good article. cricket is better watched with the volume muted. but i wish tv technology evolves to let viewers watch cricket without commentary while continuing to hear the sound of the live action and crowd.

  • POSTED BY nktoofan on | October 9, 2011, 8:11 GMT

    I don't think it is possible to bring a person who is above all biases, who ever you pick up should be good enough to comment on the game and when you look for a person good enough, he/she must be the part of the cricket for long to comment on it which boil down to the conclusion that this person must be the part of some nation's team i.e. Pakistan, India, SA, Aus, England etc. and being a human it is natural to talk good about your country, so we shouldn't say it is a bias in fact it is his understanding toward the cricket structure of his country.

    Beside it makes the commentary more colorful if the commentator is aware of inside out about his country's cricket and I would therefore Like to see Ramiz Raja in every game Pakistan play despite he hold different post at Pakistan cricket while doing the commentary.

  • POSTED BY on | October 9, 2011, 8:10 GMT

    Great article. Sadly the bias is here to say....

  • POSTED BY machan15 on | October 9, 2011, 7:54 GMT

    I'd rather listen to Greig and Abeysinghe than Jayasuriya ("The Lyon is bowling really well") and Ranjit ("One must say") Fernando anyway

  • POSTED BY on | October 9, 2011, 7:42 GMT

    Great Article Jarrod, Cash for comments is rife everywhere. I adore cricket but it is far from clean. Keep up the good work...Cheers Alan

  • POSTED BY venkat_75r on | October 9, 2011, 7:08 GMT

    Brilliant...this is one of the best articles I have ever read...Let me list down my favourite commentators. 1. Ian Chappel 2. Harsha Bhogle 3. Richie Benaud 4. Mark Taylor

  • POSTED BY on | October 9, 2011, 7:07 GMT

    No one in INdia understands the concept of 'conflict of interest'. Starts with the BCCI,IPL owners ( srinivas), commentators, Players,Officials etc. Interesting that England has the same problem. But we are treated to 'holier than thou' everytime the debate is England ( ECB) vs India (BCCI)

  • POSTED BY Krishna_M on | October 9, 2011, 6:53 GMT

    Nice article & very topical. TV cricket commentary is becoming unbearable & we don't know what to believe and what to take seriously. The mute button in many cases seems the best option!

  • POSTED BY jmcilhinney on | October 9, 2011, 6:39 GMT

    @CricFan78, I'm not sure that Gavaskar and Shastri being possibly biased towards the BCCI, which has such a large hand in Indian and world cricket, and Botham and Vaughan being possibly biased towards individual players, is of quite the same magnitude. Would the media be hypocrites if they reported someone being a criminal for robbing a bank with guns while they didn't mention a teenager shoplifting? I'm not saying that the two situations are exactly equivalent but it would only be hypocrisy if the English media reported one as bad and one as OK, which they didn't, as far as I'm aware. The English media will report on whatever they think will sell, and stories about Botham and Vaughan probably wouldn't. Don't tell me that Indian media doesn't do the same. That's the media. I think you just showed your own bias by focusing on that specific point. Paraphrasing: "Brilliant article: England did something bad". I think the point is that there are guilty parties all over.

  • POSTED BY smudgeon on | October 9, 2011, 6:24 GMT

    Whenever I sit down to watch cricket on the telly, I usually turn the volume down, & pop the radio onto the ABC commentary. Much more entertaining, insightful, and somewhat more independent.

  • POSTED BY on | October 9, 2011, 6:24 GMT

    Excellent article jarrod!!!chapelli n richie are the best wen it comes to unbiased opinions..

  • POSTED BY Cricketer2010 on | October 9, 2011, 6:19 GMT

    liking some players and giving biased opinion is the thing that cant be excluded from any support. if one is unbiased with one or two players then it is not a big problem, but when one is representing a complete board thats an area of main concern. If Gavasker and Shastri would give their fair opinion for the betterment of Indian cricket that would have been a great support for the indian team and board as well......but all we know thats not the case............ I heared Gwasker was praising Raina in a oneday match after raina hit a six by stating that Raina is the product of IPL (he totally forget about his failures in Test matches) because he was required to give justification of IPL

  • POSTED BY getsetgopk on | October 9, 2011, 6:02 GMT

    Ravi shastri and sunnil gavaskar are the worst commentators ever, they are biased, one sided and one eyed and their commentary is often pointless bragging about a mediocre indian team, they sound more like BCCI's salesmen rather than commentators. and often made to eat their own words on the England tour but like you said money brings the worse out of otherwise excellent commentators

  • POSTED BY on | October 9, 2011, 5:58 GMT

    This article makes no sense. Commentating requires a certain set of skills and if these guys can deliver, why should bias be an issue. A person watching cricket should be smart enough to form his own opinion on how a ball is played or not played. Even if N.S. Sidhu praises Ravindra Jadeja for hitting 20 runs in 30 balls in a T20 game, the spectator knows the merit/demerit of that contribution. Plus multiple jobs might be a requirement to earn a living and lead a particular lifestyle. It may be the moolah, the passion, the hunger but certainly none of your bussiness to pass a judgement on thier choices. They are picked as commentators based on thier expertise not because some Jarrod Kimber gives them commentating licence

  • POSTED BY crickstats on | October 9, 2011, 5:50 GMT

    If Ian Chappell is on air, I would listen earnestly but most of other commentators are rubbish, now they gone to the extent of using 'DLF' maximum and "TOSHIBA' powered six, this is getting absurd, soon we'll have Kingfisher wicket and so on.

  • POSTED BY on | October 9, 2011, 5:20 GMT

    Actually jarrod, among other commitments grieg is also the ambassador of lanka tourism ,(source: wikipedia) that's y there is a little talk about roads and food.. He is also the main commentator of zee group in India (who are the founders of ICL) hence so much of BCCI and N.Srinivasan bashing...

  • POSTED BY maddinson on | October 9, 2011, 4:47 GMT

    brilliant, one of the best in recent times. We have no option to mute if people like Gavaskar and Shastri are on commentary. I remember even Warnie have to say about one of Y Pathan's inning in T20 in bit extraordinary way may be because he was his team mate. It is very hard for commentators to be unbiased especially if they have any interest on any particular player or a board.

  • POSTED BY CricFan78 on | October 9, 2011, 4:08 GMT

    Brilliant article. As usual English media concentrated on Gav and Shastri but they forgot to mention Botham and Vaughan, hypocrites

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  • POSTED BY CricFan78 on | October 9, 2011, 4:08 GMT

    Brilliant article. As usual English media concentrated on Gav and Shastri but they forgot to mention Botham and Vaughan, hypocrites

  • POSTED BY maddinson on | October 9, 2011, 4:47 GMT

    brilliant, one of the best in recent times. We have no option to mute if people like Gavaskar and Shastri are on commentary. I remember even Warnie have to say about one of Y Pathan's inning in T20 in bit extraordinary way may be because he was his team mate. It is very hard for commentators to be unbiased especially if they have any interest on any particular player or a board.

  • POSTED BY on | October 9, 2011, 5:20 GMT

    Actually jarrod, among other commitments grieg is also the ambassador of lanka tourism ,(source: wikipedia) that's y there is a little talk about roads and food.. He is also the main commentator of zee group in India (who are the founders of ICL) hence so much of BCCI and N.Srinivasan bashing...

  • POSTED BY crickstats on | October 9, 2011, 5:50 GMT

    If Ian Chappell is on air, I would listen earnestly but most of other commentators are rubbish, now they gone to the extent of using 'DLF' maximum and "TOSHIBA' powered six, this is getting absurd, soon we'll have Kingfisher wicket and so on.

  • POSTED BY on | October 9, 2011, 5:58 GMT

    This article makes no sense. Commentating requires a certain set of skills and if these guys can deliver, why should bias be an issue. A person watching cricket should be smart enough to form his own opinion on how a ball is played or not played. Even if N.S. Sidhu praises Ravindra Jadeja for hitting 20 runs in 30 balls in a T20 game, the spectator knows the merit/demerit of that contribution. Plus multiple jobs might be a requirement to earn a living and lead a particular lifestyle. It may be the moolah, the passion, the hunger but certainly none of your bussiness to pass a judgement on thier choices. They are picked as commentators based on thier expertise not because some Jarrod Kimber gives them commentating licence

  • POSTED BY getsetgopk on | October 9, 2011, 6:02 GMT

    Ravi shastri and sunnil gavaskar are the worst commentators ever, they are biased, one sided and one eyed and their commentary is often pointless bragging about a mediocre indian team, they sound more like BCCI's salesmen rather than commentators. and often made to eat their own words on the England tour but like you said money brings the worse out of otherwise excellent commentators

  • POSTED BY Cricketer2010 on | October 9, 2011, 6:19 GMT

    liking some players and giving biased opinion is the thing that cant be excluded from any support. if one is unbiased with one or two players then it is not a big problem, but when one is representing a complete board thats an area of main concern. If Gavasker and Shastri would give their fair opinion for the betterment of Indian cricket that would have been a great support for the indian team and board as well......but all we know thats not the case............ I heared Gwasker was praising Raina in a oneday match after raina hit a six by stating that Raina is the product of IPL (he totally forget about his failures in Test matches) because he was required to give justification of IPL

  • POSTED BY on | October 9, 2011, 6:24 GMT

    Excellent article jarrod!!!chapelli n richie are the best wen it comes to unbiased opinions..

  • POSTED BY smudgeon on | October 9, 2011, 6:24 GMT

    Whenever I sit down to watch cricket on the telly, I usually turn the volume down, & pop the radio onto the ABC commentary. Much more entertaining, insightful, and somewhat more independent.

  • POSTED BY jmcilhinney on | October 9, 2011, 6:39 GMT

    @CricFan78, I'm not sure that Gavaskar and Shastri being possibly biased towards the BCCI, which has such a large hand in Indian and world cricket, and Botham and Vaughan being possibly biased towards individual players, is of quite the same magnitude. Would the media be hypocrites if they reported someone being a criminal for robbing a bank with guns while they didn't mention a teenager shoplifting? I'm not saying that the two situations are exactly equivalent but it would only be hypocrisy if the English media reported one as bad and one as OK, which they didn't, as far as I'm aware. The English media will report on whatever they think will sell, and stories about Botham and Vaughan probably wouldn't. Don't tell me that Indian media doesn't do the same. That's the media. I think you just showed your own bias by focusing on that specific point. Paraphrasing: "Brilliant article: England did something bad". I think the point is that there are guilty parties all over.