Christian Ryan
Writer based in Melbourne. Author of Golden Boy: Kim Hughes and the Bad Old Days of Australian Cricket

A mind-blowing night in Hobart

What's the purpose of cricket commentary? To entertain and enlighten or to exaggerate and aggravate?

Christian Ryan

January 26, 2012

Comments: 47 | Text size: A | A

Nic Maddinson plays an upper-cut during his 68, Hobart Hurricanes v Sydney Sixers, 2nd semi-final, BBL 2011-12, Hobart, January 22, 2012
"Butchered through point" or "an upper-cut for four"? © Getty Images
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Go back far, eight years, and Twenty20 was just beginning, and TV and radio commentators would greet the sight of, say, an airborne pull shot, or a legspinner's wrong'un, with the surprise that might otherwise accompany the discovery that the large-headed musk ox of arctic America reads poems. Should a bowler or batsman blunder, it sounded like triumph. If seats appeared empty, local traffic conditions were a nightmare. This hype-must-go-on commentary style was a feature for several seasons. Then it got less noticeable. But vigilance is needed. Last Sunday evening, the Hurricanes hosted the Sixers in a semi-final at Hobart's Bellerive Oval and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation sent along four radio commentators.

The first six balls, bowled by Hurricanes spinner Xavier Doherty, brought no runs and one wicket.

"Doesn't get any better than that, does it?" said Commentator 2. Three wickets in three balls has happened 39 times in Test cricket; four wickets in five balls on three occasions. Maurice Allom, a 6ft 5in jazz saxophonist from Surrey, accomplished the latter on his first Test match morning. When Chris Old did it, in 1978, he said: "I was just plugging away trying to keep the runs down."

"Doherty again - well flighted," said Commentator 1 in the third over. The ball's flight path resembled a vulture-after-a-carcass' flight path.

"Good bumper," said Commentator 2 in the sixth over. This one jumped up to Steve O'Keefe's bellybutton-level. Yanking it over square leg for a single, O'Keefe moved to 20, sprinkled with four boundaries, one of which he'd inside-edged and another he'd outside-edged.

"Sure, he's ridden his luck… But you do need a bit of luck," said Commentator 3.

"Every run that the Hurricanes can stop is gold," said Commentator 4.

Gold was the colour of Brendon McCullum's helmet when he hit 158 off 73 balls in the inaugural Indian Premier League match. The original IPL winners' trophy showed a gold batsman in front of a gold map of India and was built by a team of 14 craftsmen. Best IPL player is crowned Golden Player of the Tournament. Gold miniskirts used to cover the bottoms of Kolkata Knight Riders cheerleaders. Then they wore shorts with gold tassels, complemented by dull-gold shoes.

In the ninth over O'Keefe stole himself some wriggle room and slog-swatted spinner Jason Krejza to cow corner. "That shot there," said Commentator 4, "was a genuine cricket shot. The most perfect shot. Over midwicket."

Next ball, O'Keefe reverse-swept and top-edged. Out for 30.

The Sixers were 2 for 59. Sluggish - but not without a chance of making Saturday's final against the Scorchers at the Scorchers' home ground. "What do they call it? The Furnace. Not the WACA Ground. The Furnace."

Deep point Rana Naved-ul-Hasan intercepted a slow-trickling ball. "Ho. Look at that for desperation," said Commentator 3.

"How unusual," said Commentator 4. "We haven't seen a six hit." This was in the 11th over. "There will be. But very unusual."

In the early days of Twenty20 - and occasionally now, still - a six-hit was referred to by commentators as a "maximum".

Once, in an Adelaide Test, Michael Clarke chipped wide of silly mid-on, ran three, Kevin Pietersen's throw was wild and went for four overthrows, and so Clarke scored seven.

"First six of the night," Commentator 3 announced. "A decisive blow from Steve Smith. Off one knee." Smith clobber-swept it, his legs like swaying poplars, knees a half-trunk above ground.

In a couple of blinks, Smith and Nic Maddinson had put on 31. "Really impressive partnership from the two young New South Welshmen," said Commentator 1.

An over later - 41. "Very, very impressive batting," agreed Commentator 3.

The words were barely out in the air when Smith tried a tiptoeing-on-the-spot cross-heave that, alas, caught the inside edge and bowled him. "Good bowling. Great bowling," said Commentator 4. It was Ben Laughlin's first wicket.

Soon he had another, Maddinson for a 51-ball 68, caught. "Dirty full toss," said Commentator 2. "Got him high on the bat. Pretty good bowling, Benny Laughlin. He's pretty cunning, Benny Laughlin."

Peter Nevill marched out to bat, purposeful-like.

"Ramp shot," said Commentator 1. "If you talk about the legacy of Twenty20 cricket, there's one."

The ramp shot was popularised by Zimbabwe's Doug Marillier, then Western Australia's Ryan Campbell, two years before the first professional Twenty20 matches in England. Written accounts suggest little discernible difference, other than semantics, between the modern ramp shot and the old-time scoop shot favoured by an Australian undertaker and wicketkeeper, Hanson "Sammy" Carter, in the early 1900s. Pointing the toe of his bat - or ramp, or scoop - at the umpire, Sammy would proceed to flick the ball over his left shoulder.

The Sixers finished on 6 for 153.

The four commentators reckoned 180 was par.

Recapping on the spectacle, Commentator 3 said: "A wicket maiden first up for Doherty. You wouldn't dream of a better start. Although there was a double-wicket maiden in last night's game for Ben Edmondson."

Smith tried a tiptoeing-on-the-spot cross-heave that, alas, caught the inside edge and bowled him. "Good bowling. Great bowling," said Commentator 4. It was Ben Laughlin's first wicket. Soon he had another. "Dirty full toss," said Commentator 2. "Got him high on the bat. Pretty good bowling, Benny Laughlin. He's pretty cunning, Benny Laughlin."

THE ABC's FIRST BALL-BY-BALL radio coverage of a cricket game was Australia versus The Rest in December 1925. Up to 30 hours of cricket commentary a week have aired on the ABC in the 86 summers since. Cricket on the ABC was responsible for many Australians buying radios. Radio was responsible for turning many other Australians on to cricket. Some ABC commentators - Arthur Gilligan, Vic Richardson, Alan McGilvray, Michael Charlton, Johnnie Moyes, Lindsay Hassett, Tim Lane, Jim Maxwell - transcended household-name status. They have been loved. McGilvray, the most influential, treasured the importance of "the pause". McGilvray imagined as he spoke that he was drawing word pictures for a blind man in a chair at home.

Pink fireworks in the softening yellow light of a gorgeous summer's day in Hobart signalled the approach to the wicket of the Hurricanes' opening batsmen.

Commentator 4: "Wow. That's nice."

Commentator 3: "What a show."

Commentator 4: "It's a festival atmosphere. Just outstanding."

Three overs gone. One for 17. An uncertain start. A tennis update from Melbourne - an Australian in a headband, name of Tomic, who some fellow Australians think will experience tennis' highest highs.

"Roger Federer's won - 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 - so a good experience there for Bernard Tomic."

Phil Jaques' drive wobbled down the pitch. "Jaques. Crunching it," said Commentator 1.

Not long after, a lone figure, the bowler, lifted two arms then lowered them. "Struck on the pad - big shout."

"Of course," said Commentator 1, "so much is at stake. A spot in the final. A spot in the Champions League. A chance to line the pockets."

A far-flung field; a half-tracker outside off from the spinner O'Keefe; a backing away by batsman Travis Birt and a shovel-slog to long-off. A single.

"Good shot," said Commentator 2.

"It was a good shot," said Commentator 1.

After eight overs the Hurricanes were 1 for 47. The Sixers at the same juncture had been 1 for 49. Plenty hung on Birt. Nineteen Birt sixes in seven outings before tonight included two landing on roofs and three fizzing into out-of-the-park orbit. Another broke a window.

Stuart MacGill, the greying legspinner, came trotting, arms flapping. The ball, instead of turning in to Birt, who is left-handed, whirred gently away. Birt was stumped. This website's ball-by-ball correspondent recorded it thus: "Fuller ball outside the off stump. Birt looks to drive it and misses. Nevill does the rest as Birt's momentum carries him forward."

Commentator 2 said: "That is amazing bowling. That is a wrong'un. That is amazing stuff. For a 40-year-old ..."

Commentator 1 said: "I don't know if you'll see a finer wrong'un. Birt coming down the pitch. It gripped and spun."

Three overs after that, Commentator 2 was saying: "I'm still in awe of the wrong'un that dismissed Birt. That's just phenomenal stuff."

An over later, Commentator 1 concurred. "It's been a masterclass, hasn't it?" The scoreboard lit up MacGill's figures at that moment: 2.4-0-18-1.

Birt's dismissal hurt hometown Hurricane prospects. "A hush," said Commentator 1, "has fallen over this stadium."

Loud pop music, coming out of the loudspeakers, could be heard beneath Commentator 1's voice.

Bellerive Oval, or "Stadium", has water views, a big grassy hill, a grandstand that seats 6000, and a bunch of smaller stands. Bellerive is the Moomairemener people's word for "beautiful riverbank".

"Stuart MacGill's wrong'un," said Commentator 2. "It was mind-blowing."

A run flurry was needed. To prevent it, the Sixers called up their fastest bowler, Brett Lee. First ball: no run.

"Dot ball," said Commentator 3. "Because when there's no run scored, you put a little dot in the scorebook. Not everybody knows that."

Midway through the over, the 16th, Lee's nose was bleeding. "Well, you can't accuse this Twenty20 format of lacking incident," said Commentator 3.

Fifth ball of the over, a full delivery, Jaques shuffled backwards and slapped it - "That's a fine shot" - through where mid-on would normally be. Jaques was 59. "A heroic knock here." Next over, reverse-sweeping and missing, he was bowled.

"The crowd," said Commentator 3, "starts to file out of Bellerive."

"That's a bad sign, isn't it?" said Commentator 4.

"Yeah," said Commentator 3, "it is a bad sign. Although they also know the local traffic conditions."

The Hurricanes fell seven runs short.

The ABC is a government-funded entity with no known commercial stake in whether the KFC Twenty20 Big Bash fails or succeeds.

The ABC's code of practice - section four, sub-section two - says the ABC has a statutory duty to ensure accuracy. It says: "The ABC should make reasonable efforts, appropriate in the context, to signal to audiences gradations in accuracy, for example by… qualifying bald assertions, supplementing the partly right and correcting the plainly wrong."

Section four, sub-section five adds: "Fair and honest dealing is essential to maintaining trust with audiences."

Christian Ryan is a writer based in Melbourne. He is the author of Golden Boy: Kim Hughes and the Bad Old Days of Australian Cricket and, most recently Australia: Story of a Cricket Country

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Posted by frank22 on (January 28, 2012, 1:46 GMT)

What about Mark Nicholas, and his excessive use of superlatives? He is the worst of the lot, forever referring to players with 'obscene talent' or who are 'supremerly talented' , and there countless unbelievable, remarkable and incredible events in every session ee commentates on. I quite like the radio commentary, though the Tv guys should speak less. No fan of Ian Chappell who moans like an old women

Posted by leftarmtweaker on (January 27, 2012, 19:29 GMT)

Huh? Lol, cricket commentary is meant to keep you updated. Not details about each delivery. Sigh.

Posted by Praxis on (January 27, 2012, 16:28 GMT)

There's a 'mute' button on your TV remote, try pressing that sometime...

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 10:58 GMT)

Half the problem is that they are forced as ABC contracted employees to commentate on a 2nd rate product. Must admit though some of these commentators are specialist cricket staff, and it shows!

Posted by rahul_sai on (January 27, 2012, 8:18 GMT)

if someone finds a way to stop ravi shastri, sourav ganguly and russell arnold, it wud do a world of gud. supporting ur team is gud, but not the way they do. its really disgusting

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 6:45 GMT)

and i thought we indians were the only suffering lot when it comes to "too full of themselves" is a trend one sees in our news channels also. people no longer are ahppy just conveying the news or discussing it, they believe the news is news because they are delivering it. same with our commentators.

Posted by Gizza on (January 27, 2012, 0:56 GMT)

I think one major reason why the talking has increased at least on TV is because there are now for most matches around the world three commentators at one time instead of two. Just to illustrate with an extreme example, if there was only one commentator at a time they just can't talk and talk and talk. The commentator will get tired and run out of the breath. So he will only talk when it is necessary and adds value to the screen. Now that there are three commentators, they all want to talk at the same time leading to a lot less pauses. Radio is different in that talking in crucial for the listener so three commentators at a time is alright. As long as they aren't going over the top as they sometimes do (but not in my opinion to the extent that Christian is asserting unless the Big Bash commentary is different from international games - never heard Big Bash on radio).

Posted by inxia on (January 27, 2012, 0:09 GMT)

Cricket has always attracted people who value language and use it to describe the beauty and theatre of the game. It has also attracted athletic types who see cricket as nothing more than a contest to be fought. Unfortunately, those in the latter category are now not only polluting TV and radio commentary, they are also writing comments on this article wondering what the point of it is. Christian, thank you for writing this article; sorry that some of your pearls landed in front of the swine.

Posted by   on (January 26, 2012, 23:21 GMT)

This type of commentary really has diminished the subtleties of cricket. Fantastic article.

Posted by   on (January 26, 2012, 23:18 GMT)

Additionally, has anyone else noticed how, particularly since the addition of tubby, heals and slats, the 9 cricket commentary has become more about the commentators than the actual game. A good example of this is catch D. the "classic clanger" which is usually one of the commentators (or someone in their click) getting some unwarranted airtime. Also, how did Brayshaw weasel his way into the test commentary box?

Posted by   on (January 26, 2012, 23:11 GMT)

T20 is designed to bring in football-type crowds so of course the commentary is dumbed-down to suit the occasion and the article is a brilliant comment on that, well done sir!

Posted by   on (January 26, 2012, 23:03 GMT)

Interesting, I was pointed here from the NZ vs Zim test which I am listening to on the radio. The NZ commentators are fantastic, they stick to the game, they aren't over excited, and they are - most importantly - not overshadowing the game itself. The Australian commentators, both TV and radio, just spend too much time pushing the products advertisers pay them for ...

Posted by Kaze on (January 26, 2012, 21:53 GMT)

I think it was Richie Benaud that said there is too much talking on TV Test Commentary. I agree with him, some of them seem to want to give you ball by ball commentary which really shouldn't happen. There should be a point where they just shut up on the TV, or better yet give additional info relevant to what's occurring on screen. I like listening to Ian Chappell, Richie Benaud, Geoffrey Boycott, Nasser Hussain, Mark Taylor and Bill Lawry.

Posted by seand64 on (January 26, 2012, 21:37 GMT)

I don't see the point of slamming the ABC team for doing their job in a very entertaining way when you also have the option of listening to the pathetic ramblings of the Ch 9 advertising department. To see so many ads in one day of play is just ridiculous. You'd almost think that cricket was sponsoring a chicken distribution outlet and a phone company. Why no mention of the blatant commercialisation that see's Richie Benaud forced to talk about how much he likes watching a certain program on whatever night at whatever time? Why no mention of the moronic Vodafone app and the imbecilic questions that get asked? Why no mention of the constant replays of the last ball bowled, the ball tracker that shows where the ball might have gone and where it would have gone if it hadn't deviated? Ch 9's commentary has been reduced to visual, audible idiocy masquerading as inside knowledge, completely dominated by advertising. Even with the sound turned down it's hard to tolerate the Ch 9 broadcast.

Posted by   on (January 26, 2012, 20:42 GMT)

love this article mate, really puts t20 in perspective!

Posted by Zat. on (January 26, 2012, 19:55 GMT)

I'm amazed by how many people have commented on this article asking 'what's the point of this?'

Perhaps too many people have become accustomed to rubbish commentary.

Ryan has cast an analytical ear over what was once regarded as the best commentary service in Australia, and found it sadly lacking in the 'factual' department. Accuracy should be the first priority in commentary. Even that bumbling buffoon Kerry O'Keeffe is accurate before being entertaining.

The TV commentators may be worse, but they're paid for by advertisers. As Ryan says, the ABC is independent and is REQUIRED to be accurate. Many of the bodies they've recruited to supplement the t20 coverage this year have been ordinary and exaggerated more often than telling it straight.

The cumulative effect of all the hype isn't evident until someone points it out. Well done Mr Ryan.

Bit of a blooper about the etymology of Bellerive, though...

Posted by Guthers007 on (January 26, 2012, 19:45 GMT)

A lot said about nothing. Or is it nothing said about a lot? I think you missed the boat here, Mr Ryan!

Posted by er.Vaibhav on (January 26, 2012, 19:25 GMT)

you know what stop writing ryan or my eyes will bleed....guessing from the title we know its you used to exaggerate more than commentators...actually an old australian problem do the wrong thing by yourself but if someone else does it start criticizing

Posted by er.Vaibhav on (January 26, 2012, 19:21 GMT)

what does this ryan guy thinks of himself...and here we are some blind fools like thecaptayn supporting the dumbass one eyed king

Posted by simon_w on (January 26, 2012, 19:04 GMT)

I have to admit I can't abide a lot of cricket commentary, and the ABC is as bad as most (though it's still not quite as bad as most Indian commentary, so think yourself lucky). (@mjcoxx -- I have heard the ABC commentators making lots of use of the word 'zinger', btw). SABC are better, in my limited experience, as are RadioNZ. As primarily and England fan, though, I always watch with the sound down and either TMS or Test Match Sofa on, because the Sky commentators stretch my patience.

I'm sorry to say, though, that I do agree with those who point out the irony bordering on hypocrisy of this piece...

Posted by Team12 on (January 26, 2012, 18:54 GMT)

Difficult to understand or comprehend the purpose of this article. Commentary sometimes can have mistakes. But to err is human isn't it ?

I just followed one sentence in the whole article : ' But vigilance is needed'. Other than that the article has lot of commentary stuff which do not connect at all.

Truely Cricinfo should check all the articles before it gets posted and follow this sentence throughly ------ ' But vigilance is needed'.......

Posted by Deuce03 on (January 26, 2012, 16:26 GMT)

I'm (not very) surprised at how many people have missed the point here. Sure, he obviously has a bee in his bonnet about the hyperbole employed by commentators - something that starts to grate on any sports fan who watches enough of it and possesses any sort of sense of proportion. But he's also making the point that the ball-by-ball commentary they're providing is useless to anyone who can't see the pitch. If you look (not particularly) carefully, you can see that the descriptions of each shot are Christians. The full description the listeners are getting is along the lines of "good ball"; "good shot"; "yes, that was a good shot"; etc.. The commentary is not only inaccurate and grating, it's not even fulfilling its basic purpose.

Posted by Carrotrope on (January 26, 2012, 16:04 GMT)

Great article, thanks. You could have taken the time and effort to pick their commentary apart bit by bit but you showed restraint and the reading is all the better and funnier for it - insightful and a good laugh. Cheers

Posted by TheCaptayne on (January 26, 2012, 14:16 GMT)

Brilliant article. You could say exactly the same for the commentary over here in the UK too, and I bet India. A horrible mix of exaggerations, distortions and ignorance from dumbass commentators whose knowledge of cricket often seems non-existent.

Keep going, Mr Ryan, ignore the negative comments, this article is saying things that need to be said.

Posted by pirki on (January 26, 2012, 13:58 GMT)

I thought the commentary was great as compared to BCCI hired Ian Chappel, Ravi Shastri and Sunny Gavaskar when the burst out in the IPLs. I am a keen follower of ABC commentary since 1988, look at the current team at adelaide oval, Maxwell, Kerry O'keif, stephen Femming etc. I was in my car and lestening them on my iPAD app (tunein radio), they are simply awsome. as mentioned before calling on the game and giving spot expert analysis is difficult thing then writing. IF you have doubt try it mate. Looking forward for 4-0 whitewash over india. Newzealand doing well at nepair and what about saeed ajmal's last session spell. ?????? England crumbling again, very binteresting day tomorrow at Abu Dhabi and may be curtains at Adelaide oval on India's down under

Posted by   on (January 26, 2012, 13:17 GMT)

Is there a point to this?

Posted by mjcoxx on (January 26, 2012, 13:00 GMT)

Loved 'Golden Boy' but I don't really get this article. Firstly, Twenty20 s the only cricket there is given the hiatus in the Sheffield Shield competition. Apparently it is what the public want. Secondly, they're radio commentators. Not everyone is watching the game on pay TV or at the ground. Some of us are in our cars or making dinner. If the radio commentators stop speaking there will be dead air or the listeners will be subjected to the inane between-ball music captured by the effects mic. Good reasons to turn off. Finally, its pretty much a second XI doing the commentary. Jim Maxwell was probably absent as his cynicism and loathing for the Twenty20 format oozes through the radio every time he opens his mic. At least these guys are trying to show a bit of enthusiasm and support the game of cricket and entertain the casual listener who might think Twenty20 is awesome. Also, I don't recall any of them mentioning the sponsor or using the word 'zinger'.

Posted by chickenpoo on (January 26, 2012, 12:44 GMT)

the commentators are great, stop critisizing them and write a positive article for once

Posted by Tuggas on (January 26, 2012, 12:44 GMT)

Please, What was the purpose of this article?! You didn't even answer your initial question (What is the purpose of cricket commentary?), you just wrote about some small mistakes that a couple of ABC radio commentators made. To be fair, commentary is not an easy job. You need confidence and a fast thought process. Yes, they may be professionals, but they are still human.. What do you expect? I think they do a great job calling the cricket on the spot in a quick and accurate manner. They don't deserve to be bagged by an author who gets loads of time to think about what he wants to write and STILL can't answer his own question!!

Posted by smudgeon on (January 26, 2012, 11:06 GMT)

I'm not quite sure the point of this article (I think I can guess), but I somehow doubt that the local Aboriginal band were well acquainted enough with French to refer to the eastern shore as "Bellerive". Consider this my contribution to "correcting the plainly wrong". Ahem.

Posted by raghavendran7 on (January 26, 2012, 10:35 GMT)


Posted by JaredHansen on (January 26, 2012, 10:23 GMT)

How interesting to hear that Bellerive is an Aboriginal name. And how wildly coincidental that it means the exact same thing in the native language as it does in French. Ryan makes a good point - when people comment on something it is definitely important that they know the basics of what they're talking about.

Posted by srini701 on (January 26, 2012, 9:20 GMT)

What's your point, mate? We didn't need to read through the whole commentary all over again after enduring it on TV and you certainly didn't need to write so much to make your have a word limit to fill too?

Posted by Hoggy_1989 on (January 26, 2012, 9:09 GMT)

I couldn't agree more. This isn't just an ABC problem though...its an EVERYBODY problem. TV and radio are no exception. All the commentators act like kids hopped up on red cordial during the T20 games and it doesn't make it more exciting...its embarrassing. They should all have a chat to Richie Benaud and what he was taught at the BBC: "If you've got nothing to add to what's on the TV, say nothing."

Posted by dunger.bob on (January 26, 2012, 9:00 GMT)

Hmmm, not exactly sure of the context of this one, but I'm assuming that the author were listening to an ABC coverage. If that's the case, then shame on them. Just call the cricket boys, leave the bling to those that do it for a living. The ABC is my preferred coverage when working and can't watch TV because of the 'word pictures' mentioned. If they start towing the company line instead of focusing on the cricket I'm out of there.

Posted by Rooboy on (January 26, 2012, 8:10 GMT)

Someone should perform the same critical analysis of this writer's efforts. Maybe that would be worth reading, this wasn't

Posted by   on (January 26, 2012, 8:08 GMT)

Awesome comparison and highlighting major problems. Who exactly are commentators 1, 2, 3 and 4 though?

Posted by   on (January 26, 2012, 7:08 GMT)

But harsh I think. Not sure anyone is trying to mislead anyone with their "under the desk dealing" as you seem to be asserting. Its a game all about fun and energy and are obviously trying to pass that on to the listeners, to be fair I feel you are being somewhat hypocritical by using the same form of journalism you are blaming the ABC of. I mean since you seem to be hyping up what is some innocuous discussion about a faintly boring game I guess I should assume that you are being paid by Red Roster to undermine KFC then? Poor form and poor article about people only trying to do their jobs and pass across what they saw and felt.

Posted by trepuR on (January 26, 2012, 7:05 GMT)

I couldn't agree more. Listening to commentators who appear to feel the need to narrate everything as special and/or outstanding truly annoy me. It isn't just cricket listening to Brian Taylor commentating the footy is just plain excruciating. Even watching the test matches the only one who is ever thoughtful about what he says (and is invariably proved right) is old Richie Benaud. I don't watch cricket to hear people shouting at me, I want to appreciate it. Oh and by the way I'm not an old fart, longing for yesteryear, I'm a 16 year old.

Posted by 4test90 on (January 26, 2012, 6:39 GMT)

One large problem I find with the ABC commentators and Drew Morphett on particular is that he so rarely gives the score. Even today I was in the car and switched on, but had to drive many kilometers listening to anecdotes before I found out the score. Very, very frustrating.

Posted by   on (January 26, 2012, 6:38 GMT)

Quite a boring and pointless article, though the title promised much. There was nothing exceptional in most of the comments made, and it hardly answers the questions that the writer himself asks "What's the purpose of cricket commentary? To entertain and enlighten or to exaggerate and aggravate?"

Posted by banter123 on (January 26, 2012, 6:33 GMT)

Stop being so harsh on them.Its not there fault that there are club cricketer who they are unaware of as well as its just a slogging.Listening to them for the test match coverage is a pleasant experience.

Posted by Whiplashed on (January 26, 2012, 6:18 GMT)

Good article, but I was not aware that the Moomairemener people spoke French.

Posted by ARad on (January 26, 2012, 6:10 GMT)

Let me steal from the byline of this article. "What is the purpose of this article? To entertain and enlighten or to exaggerate and aggravate or to fill in a column?" ;-)

Posted by JB77 on (January 26, 2012, 6:07 GMT)

The only thing worse than insipid commentary is pretentious writing: 'with the surprise that might otherwise accompany the discovery that the large-headed musk ox of arctic America reads poems'. Really?

Posted by sifter132 on (January 26, 2012, 4:53 GMT)

Wouldn't a vulture after a carcass be a pretty well flighted ball? Careful of the glass houses...I was going to go through the article and keep picking, but I haven't got time. Either way: I agree that commentary is generally poor. God knows I spend half the afternoon complaining about Ian Chappell's hushed reference when talking about the holy #3 batting spot, or groaning loudly when Ian Healy suggests yet another bouncer filled plan. But picking apart commentators immediate reactions to events, particularly when some of those commentators aren't very experienced is a bit...hmm too easy? Brett Geeves is hardly the pinacle of commentary, so he should be given some slack. Quentin Hull isn't a pro - he's just the ABCs local correspondent probably the best guy the ABC could get there in the box.

Posted by Srijoym on (January 26, 2012, 4:53 GMT)

For me, a large part of the enjoyment of cricket comes from commentary. Camaraderie in the box from former players, talks of the older days all add colour to the proceedings. But nowadays, I feel, commentators feel everything must have colour. It's as if without an adjective, words have no meaning. So every 'shot' is now a 'great shot', every 'delivery' is an 'unplayable delivery', every 'catch' is a 'spectacular catch'. In India, much of this arises from the status of cricket in the country. The game is a superstar and anyone even remotely associated with the sport has, however flimsy, a claim to fame. So even techinically challenged commentators feel that their position in the box is justified and much loved by the public, hence a license to carry on the way they have been. Case in point: Harsha Bhogle. Average at his best, he still manages to write a piece on commentators on cricket's premier website titled 'A novelist with a mike'. And who would that be Mr. Bhogle? You?

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Christian Ryan Christian Ryan lives in Melbourne, writes and edits, was once the editor of The Monthly magazine and Wisden Australia, and now bowls low-grade, high-bouncing legbreaks with renewed zeal in recognition of Stuart MacGill's retirement and the selection opportunities this presents. He is the author of Golden Boy: Kim Hughes and the Bad Old Days of Australian Cricket and Australia: Story of a Cricket Country

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India's wretched run away from home began at Lord's in 2011. A young team full of self-belief may have brought it to an end with their victory at the same venue three years later

Ishant's fourth-innings heroics in rare company

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

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