April 26, 2013

Give viewers the no-commentary option

It will challenge commentators to get better, and give fans a choice
146

As I watched a large crowd fill Eden Gardens again and saw the Spidercam move gently over them to emphasise the size of the gathering, I sat back and wondered how much our telecasts have changed over the years.

I remember the time when we had tapes, editors logged key moments in a log book, edit machines were huge and took a long time to deliver output, and cameras could not get all that close to the action. Why, Doordarshan Hyderabad used to cover matches on film and we used to have a spot-the-player contest!

The spin-vision cameras in the mid-nineties were a revolution. Then everything went digital - edit machines fitted into briefcases, ultra-motion arrived, graphics were revolutionised, Hawk-Eye got conversations going. High-definition television is just sensational, and now this Spidercam, which, like a giant aerial snake, gives you close-ups and a sweep that was unimaginable before.

Note, though, that all these changes are technology-driven and have affected visuals more than they have words and voices. The pictures are better than they have ever been, and they will be better with every passing year, but the voices that add to them haven't changed much. You could, of course, argue that we have come a long way from Richie Benaud's legendary minimalist style to Danny Morrison, who is almost Formula 1 in comparison. And while it is interesting that both have their share of supporters, commentary is not really too different from how it used to be.

Two recent events got me thinking about whether things couldn't be different on that front as well. DTH now allows you a choice of camera angles. Earlier this year, when Sky didn't have a commentary team in India, viewers in England had the option of listening either to their panel based in a studio in London or the world feed coming from the ground. It empowered viewers and allowed them to watch a telecast as they preferred rather than as was forced on them over the years. And then earlier this week on ESPNcricinfo's Huddle, Jarrod Kimber wondered why, as a cricket nerd (his word, not mine) he couldn't get a "nerdy" commentary for the IPL rather than the one he was stuck with. In effect he was saying: give me a choice of commentary and let me choose which one I like. Don't lose me with a one-size-fits-all broadcast.

On the assumption that the viewer, who effectively funds the telecast, must get what he feels he deserves, I believe we can go further and actually offer a no-commentary option. Currently the viewer gets a sound-mixed version where the commentary comes along with the sounds of the stadium - the crowd, the chatter and that of ball hitting bat. I believe we should be able to offer an option where the viewer gets everything except the commentary: full ambient sound, all graphics, replays, everything except the commentary.

There are two reasons for my suggestion. First, the viewer must have a choice that makes economic sense to offer, and second, the commentator must be challenged, for it is out of this challenge that he will come closer to the viewer.

When I auditioned as a 19-year-old, I discovered to my shock that some of the senior commentators didn't really worry too much about whether a ball was outside off or leg, whether it was a cut or a drive, and whether the fielder at cover was Murthy or Ahmed

Two incidents in my formative years lead me to believe this can only be beneficial to everyone. In my second, or maybe third, Ranji Trophy match, when I was a young engineering student opting to do commentary during pre-exam study holidays, we were in a makeshift position in the middle of the crowd at the Railway Ground in Secunderabad. About 20 feet below us, transistors in hand, were spectators seeing exactly what we were describing. Every time one of us wasn't accurate enough, they would look up and tell us what they thought of us. At their most polite they said, "Abbe, andha hai kya, nai dikhra? [Are you blind?]". I felt I was in an exam, with the audience marking me after every ball, and to be honest, I enjoyed the experience. And even though the sample size was small, by the end of the game the programme executive knew who was acceptable to the audience and who wasn't.

It did something else. It kept us on guard and forced us to be accurate. Now you might imagine that accuracy is mandatory for a radio broadcaster anyway, but it wasn't always like that in the pre-televised era of sports.

When I went for my audition as a 19-year-old, I discovered to my shock that some of the senior commentators there didn't really worry too much about whether a ball was outside off or leg, whether it was a cut or a drive, and whether the fielder at cover was Murthy or Ahmed. They were your only access to the action and you would never know if they were right or wrong (unless, of course, they were in the commentary position I talked about earlier). It was a great power to possess but it was a habit that proved costly when pictures arrived for a lot of matches and people could now watch a game on television and listen to it on radio. The moment that happened, the radio commentator was challenged and had to get better. These were wonderful lessons for me early in life: that you must be challenged in order to get better.

And that is why, with a technology revolution in television, and indeed in all media, I believe the viewer must continue to be empowered. A commentator must be heard not because the viewer has no choice but because he chooses to listen. If we find that viewers prefer the no-commentary option, or even if a significant number do, it means we need to take a look at ourselves again. If the vast majority choose the commentary option (and even there I believe we should be able to go Jarrod's way and offer commentary options, like we now have camera options on some platforms), then maybe we are doing something right. Either way the broadcaster is challenged to stay relevant and, like a batsman, to be on top of his game all the time.

I foresee other innovations coming. Maybe one day not all commentators need to be in the commentary box, you never know. But like the visuals, and those manning the visuals, need to keep pace with the times, so too must the sounds and those creating them.

As I discovered all those years ago, it will only hurt those who don't want to be challenged and will ultimately benefit the viewer. Who knows, we might get startling results like we have with ultra-motion cameras and the Spidercam. I think it is an experiment worth trying.

Harsha Bhogle is a commentator, television presenter and writer. He is currently contracted to the BCCI. His Twitter feed is here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • SannuG on April 27, 2013, 10:27 GMT

    Lovely piece Harsha. I enjoyed poetic narration in Hindi by Sushil Doshi and Murli Manohar Manjul and given a choice would prefer to listen to them. Who would forget Sushil's description of Oval test! But now, I just mute. I like thinking instead of how Sushil would describe the situation. Pity, he doesn't do commentating!

  • cloudmess on April 27, 2013, 1:16 GMT

    I don't think the answer is muting the commentary, it's improving the commentary. Just as the best coaches were not necessarily the best players, ditto the commentators. It is a job which requires its own set of skills, and you should always choose the best men for the job, whether they are ex-professionals or not. But don't just stick a former test-star up in the commentary box on the basis of x number of runs or wickets, when he has nothing interesting or intelligent to add. On the whole, the best commentators seem to come from either England or India. With one or two notable exceptions, Australian ones are always too partisan, ditto South African. I'd rate some the WI commentators very highly. NZ seems to turn out the quirkiest. Jeremy Coney is one of my all-time favourites, and wish he was on more. If Danny Morrison stopped taking whatever it is he's taking, he could also be quite incisive and witty.

  • on April 26, 2013, 21:18 GMT

    I think Harsha has hit the nail on the head with this one. With the falling standards of commentary the viewer must indeed be given the option to subscribe to a commentary-less feed. Maybe savy folks on the internet can license such a feed and insert their own commentary to cater to specific audiences- for instance commentary to a nerdy-cricketing audience, different languages etc. It would lead to a true democratization of the cricket viewing experience besides creating new revenue opportunities for the broadcasters.

    The broadcasters should also consider tasteful visual text commentary or close captioning for the hearing impaired by overlaying text-graphics on the video stream.

  • Donsshaddow on April 26, 2013, 10:31 GMT

    That's a fair comment Harsha. It's mighty brave of you to have said this. Putting myself in the commentators shoes though makes me empathize with you'll a bit. Like writers have 'writers-block' sometimes, I'm sure, with the amount of cricket being played these days, it makes it difficult for a commentator to sound fresh and dish out a new perspective every time one turns up. The by giving viewers the option of switching to 'silent-mode' will empower the viewer to choose.

  • on April 26, 2013, 9:50 GMT

    Good one Harsha. Cricket has changed a lot in terms of media, telecast, advertisement, excitement, coverage and of course commentary. As pointed, the competition in this industry is growing day by day and that's why we can see a whole different aspect in IPL pre show: extra innings. All type of guests from Pro to Ama comes and creates a whole set of expert comments with some added fun into it. Spider cam to the lightning of bails in BBL. As a viewer we need a new dimension to it, and no commentary I believe w ill be game changer. Looking towards this chang as we are getting bored with same Orthodox, unconventional commentary with unnecessary advertisements in between. I can imagine how wonderful it will be: if we can see whats going on the ground instead of the ads. on screen.

  • kristee on April 26, 2013, 5:29 GMT

    It won't change much. Like, say, cinema a lot of anticipation takes place on what the viewers want. That's why terms like 'little master' dominate the proceedings. See how horrible Sidhu was at the Irani trophy; 'learn how to bat with the tail enders from Tendulkar', he was heard saying, when the reality pointed to the opposite.

  • STRAIGHT_TALK on April 26, 2013, 5:28 GMT

    Harsha, I am not sure whether you remember me, but I clearly remember those days when we met twice in AIR studios at Hyderabad, with you waiting to get into one of the recording rooms, and me wating to get into a 'Yuvavani' recording......I remember this to be in 1982 or 83.....I later on was happy to note that you took a career in commentating and heard you on Radio New Zealand in 1990. And today, whatever comes out today is sheer blabbering and cacophony. The way you have written this piece above, you will not be surprised at all to know that I mute my TV while watching cricket. We were fed with commentary through BBC, AIR and later through Channel Nine, when we enjoyed the actual description of the game thru radio and the TV commentary was quite distinct. The overdose of cricket, the avoidable sound which they call commentary and all the extraas are moving people like me out of the game. Cricketers do not necessarily become good commentators.

  • on April 26, 2013, 5:21 GMT

    Now that we are talking about commentary here, it is frightfully surprising how someone like Harsha, who I adore and respect, stays safely away from criticising how Indian networks do not even let the commentators finish up a sentence before cutting to ads after an over, how they are forced to mention some sponsorers VIP box in every inning, how they have to prefix a sponsorers adjective before mentioning every six that is hit etc etc. The list of silly things a commentator and eventually a viewer is subjected to these days is very long. Why dont you not stand against this Harsha? Why doesn't anyone? Or forget stand up against. Why doesnt Harsha even take these into account while writing a piece on the changing face of tv commentary. I watch my cricket on Sky many times and it is a relief to have an advertisement only every now and then, and then to watch it on our networks, where, at times, the ball barely reaches the keeper's gloves and we are in an advertisement! Commentators?

  • on April 26, 2013, 5:01 GMT

    Commentary is an art form and the broadcasters in Asia have failed to realize this. When I watch a match, I want something which I cannot see on screen. How do players prepare? What goes on through a player's mind in different situations? Having players mic'd up has helped but in general the actual commentators don't seem capable to keeping the viewer engaged. Perhaps a deeper insight into how the culture f cricket differs in each part of the world will help. Maybe budding commentators should have an option to work with commentators in different sport in different parts of the world and come up with new ideas to form their own style which keep the viewer engaged. Educate the viewer. Don't annoy the viewer. That's how I believe commentary should be done.

  • SanjayUvacha on April 26, 2013, 3:33 GMT

    As a cricket lover who has watched matches on TV since the 1980s, I realise cricket commentary has come a long way from a detailed amateurish match description to an in-depth analysis. The viewers too were watching the match on their TV sets and could have been better of with something more. The 'running commentary' was apt for radio and made the listener visualise the match in absence of a visual feed. The commentators'skills made the matches really interesting and close matches even more gripping! Many a time, bored with the slow paced commentary, we used to mute the TV volume and switch on the radio! The combination of TV images and radio commentary was just a treat! Those who have tried this would know how good it was!

    But I must complement Mr. Bhogle for this writing this piece despite being a TV commentator and a distinguished one at that.

  • SannuG on April 27, 2013, 10:27 GMT

    Lovely piece Harsha. I enjoyed poetic narration in Hindi by Sushil Doshi and Murli Manohar Manjul and given a choice would prefer to listen to them. Who would forget Sushil's description of Oval test! But now, I just mute. I like thinking instead of how Sushil would describe the situation. Pity, he doesn't do commentating!

  • cloudmess on April 27, 2013, 1:16 GMT

    I don't think the answer is muting the commentary, it's improving the commentary. Just as the best coaches were not necessarily the best players, ditto the commentators. It is a job which requires its own set of skills, and you should always choose the best men for the job, whether they are ex-professionals or not. But don't just stick a former test-star up in the commentary box on the basis of x number of runs or wickets, when he has nothing interesting or intelligent to add. On the whole, the best commentators seem to come from either England or India. With one or two notable exceptions, Australian ones are always too partisan, ditto South African. I'd rate some the WI commentators very highly. NZ seems to turn out the quirkiest. Jeremy Coney is one of my all-time favourites, and wish he was on more. If Danny Morrison stopped taking whatever it is he's taking, he could also be quite incisive and witty.

  • on April 26, 2013, 21:18 GMT

    I think Harsha has hit the nail on the head with this one. With the falling standards of commentary the viewer must indeed be given the option to subscribe to a commentary-less feed. Maybe savy folks on the internet can license such a feed and insert their own commentary to cater to specific audiences- for instance commentary to a nerdy-cricketing audience, different languages etc. It would lead to a true democratization of the cricket viewing experience besides creating new revenue opportunities for the broadcasters.

    The broadcasters should also consider tasteful visual text commentary or close captioning for the hearing impaired by overlaying text-graphics on the video stream.

  • Donsshaddow on April 26, 2013, 10:31 GMT

    That's a fair comment Harsha. It's mighty brave of you to have said this. Putting myself in the commentators shoes though makes me empathize with you'll a bit. Like writers have 'writers-block' sometimes, I'm sure, with the amount of cricket being played these days, it makes it difficult for a commentator to sound fresh and dish out a new perspective every time one turns up. The by giving viewers the option of switching to 'silent-mode' will empower the viewer to choose.

  • on April 26, 2013, 9:50 GMT

    Good one Harsha. Cricket has changed a lot in terms of media, telecast, advertisement, excitement, coverage and of course commentary. As pointed, the competition in this industry is growing day by day and that's why we can see a whole different aspect in IPL pre show: extra innings. All type of guests from Pro to Ama comes and creates a whole set of expert comments with some added fun into it. Spider cam to the lightning of bails in BBL. As a viewer we need a new dimension to it, and no commentary I believe w ill be game changer. Looking towards this chang as we are getting bored with same Orthodox, unconventional commentary with unnecessary advertisements in between. I can imagine how wonderful it will be: if we can see whats going on the ground instead of the ads. on screen.

  • kristee on April 26, 2013, 5:29 GMT

    It won't change much. Like, say, cinema a lot of anticipation takes place on what the viewers want. That's why terms like 'little master' dominate the proceedings. See how horrible Sidhu was at the Irani trophy; 'learn how to bat with the tail enders from Tendulkar', he was heard saying, when the reality pointed to the opposite.

  • STRAIGHT_TALK on April 26, 2013, 5:28 GMT

    Harsha, I am not sure whether you remember me, but I clearly remember those days when we met twice in AIR studios at Hyderabad, with you waiting to get into one of the recording rooms, and me wating to get into a 'Yuvavani' recording......I remember this to be in 1982 or 83.....I later on was happy to note that you took a career in commentating and heard you on Radio New Zealand in 1990. And today, whatever comes out today is sheer blabbering and cacophony. The way you have written this piece above, you will not be surprised at all to know that I mute my TV while watching cricket. We were fed with commentary through BBC, AIR and later through Channel Nine, when we enjoyed the actual description of the game thru radio and the TV commentary was quite distinct. The overdose of cricket, the avoidable sound which they call commentary and all the extraas are moving people like me out of the game. Cricketers do not necessarily become good commentators.

  • on April 26, 2013, 5:21 GMT

    Now that we are talking about commentary here, it is frightfully surprising how someone like Harsha, who I adore and respect, stays safely away from criticising how Indian networks do not even let the commentators finish up a sentence before cutting to ads after an over, how they are forced to mention some sponsorers VIP box in every inning, how they have to prefix a sponsorers adjective before mentioning every six that is hit etc etc. The list of silly things a commentator and eventually a viewer is subjected to these days is very long. Why dont you not stand against this Harsha? Why doesn't anyone? Or forget stand up against. Why doesnt Harsha even take these into account while writing a piece on the changing face of tv commentary. I watch my cricket on Sky many times and it is a relief to have an advertisement only every now and then, and then to watch it on our networks, where, at times, the ball barely reaches the keeper's gloves and we are in an advertisement! Commentators?

  • on April 26, 2013, 5:01 GMT

    Commentary is an art form and the broadcasters in Asia have failed to realize this. When I watch a match, I want something which I cannot see on screen. How do players prepare? What goes on through a player's mind in different situations? Having players mic'd up has helped but in general the actual commentators don't seem capable to keeping the viewer engaged. Perhaps a deeper insight into how the culture f cricket differs in each part of the world will help. Maybe budding commentators should have an option to work with commentators in different sport in different parts of the world and come up with new ideas to form their own style which keep the viewer engaged. Educate the viewer. Don't annoy the viewer. That's how I believe commentary should be done.

  • SanjayUvacha on April 26, 2013, 3:33 GMT

    As a cricket lover who has watched matches on TV since the 1980s, I realise cricket commentary has come a long way from a detailed amateurish match description to an in-depth analysis. The viewers too were watching the match on their TV sets and could have been better of with something more. The 'running commentary' was apt for radio and made the listener visualise the match in absence of a visual feed. The commentators'skills made the matches really interesting and close matches even more gripping! Many a time, bored with the slow paced commentary, we used to mute the TV volume and switch on the radio! The combination of TV images and radio commentary was just a treat! Those who have tried this would know how good it was!

    But I must complement Mr. Bhogle for this writing this piece despite being a TV commentator and a distinguished one at that.

  • hellraiser9 on April 30, 2013, 7:25 GMT

    Thank you Harsha Bhogle sir for this article. I am happy if I am given that option to block some of the TV commentators. For example: Ramiz Raja, Saurav Ganguly, VVS, and of course few others. Shastri , Sidhu, Gavaskar , and few others bring the excitement to the game when they "react" to a great shot at crunch moment like the viewers. Like someone pointed out it will give broadcaster an idea whom to be given pink slip. That way viewer has discretion and peace of mind. We don't have to listen to all rubbish Ganguly talks. Sidhu is always full of energy and the kind of one liners he comes up adds to the entertainment. With his sense of humor and enthusiasm it is enjoyable. It is fun. Muting the commentator is nice option than Muting the TV. :) Definitely looking forward to it. And Harsha sir please keep it simple. Your commentary is like essay writing with good detailed explanation to things which others might miss but the way you present it makes lot of difference. Thanks.

  • TheOnlyEmperor on April 29, 2013, 9:41 GMT

    I've been particularly impressed by the new English commentator on the block, Simon Taufel, the umpire. He is articulate and can very intelligently provide insights into batting, bowling, umpiring decisions, the pitch conditions, the cricket rules, their experiences in various parts of the world, etc. An intelligent umpire knows the game much more than any intelligent player, simply because he's got to concentrate on every ball during the entire length of the match. He understands the temperament of the batsmen and bowlers and more importantly that of the captains. He can also gauge the " collective emotional mood" on the field at a critical moment in the match and comment on decisions taken at such times. He can connect the audience to this and thereby help them connect more with the play instead of watching the match disconnectedly. While the cameras help in removing the disconnect to a certain extent, an umpire's take and commentary on this would be truly valuable insight!

  • Diwakar on April 29, 2013, 9:32 GMT

    As an aside:

    I remember my uncle telling me about Vizzy. He would talk about his experiences for a long while and wind up saying," While I was telling you all this, 3 wickets have fallen, 22 runs have been scored". Bulletin or running commentary?

    An aside to an aside:

    BBC Test match special was indeed special. CMJ and Brian Johnston, with their crisp, "I say!" to summarise a wonderful cover drive were a treat. On the other hand, we had a few who felt compelled to fill the silence with their,"And the players walk on to the field, the sun is bright, the grass is green, the players all in white, and here is Holding to Gavaskar...." leaving the listener gasping for breath just listening to these chaps going on and on.

    Anyway, cricket is the richer for these experiences.

  • Diwakar on April 29, 2013, 9:26 GMT

    Good one, Harsha! I listened to the fake-Australian accent by the English commentator on radio for the CSK-KKR match on the 28th and was appalled. He had the cheek to say that Bisla and Kallis are alike in physical stature and the gall to confuse Morris for Hussey and then promptly retracted and then retracted again. Morris and Hussey do not look anywhere alike, for sure.

    He messed up reading the scorecard, got the run rates wrong and said, "Bisla scored 88 odd runs" last year.

    How DOES one get these commentary gigs? I can do a much better job and still speak English like we Indians do.

  • TheOnlyEmperor on April 29, 2013, 8:33 GMT

    I've never liked listening to the Indian radio or TV commentators over the past 42 years. When I listen, I like to listen to the way a person presents his thoughts...his speech pattern. I find the Indian commentators without exception to be depressing rather than uplifting in their speech pattern. They use the word "pressure" in so many of their sentences, that it's frankly stressful listening. I've on several occasions put the TV on mute. I've also found the Indian TV commentators advocating techniques on how the opposition need to take various Indian batsmen out as a show of "expertise" or "inside knowledge". I'm yet to see an Indian commentator get into specifics while being critical of Indian performance. For instance, I'm yet to hear any of these so called experts mention that Indians can't bowl yorkers or don't have the ability to maintain line discipline while bowling. They will not say a single word when SRT goes through a 4th inning brain freeze. Who then wants to listen?

  • Sameer-hbk on April 28, 2013, 22:07 GMT

    The problem Mr. Bhogle is that we are left wondering if commentators are 'calling the action' or 'selling the product' on a Tele-shopping network! While someone like yourselves is a bit more balance, others simply start marketing IPL. What value is a commentator if he cannot give a bold and preferably unbiased opinion? What good is it if individual boards and networks pass diktats on what 'not to say' while on air.? (Think DRS please) Having heard the 'huddle' you talked about above, here is a simple question cricket broadcasters should consider: You talk about "market research" as the driving force behind current direction of IPL product? But are these channels prepared to loose us "nerdy/core/die-hard audience" who follow every cricket encounter religiously to attract the casual viewer? Us "small minority" who are put off by this below-par coverage and yet take time out to comment here hoping something would change!!

  • wibblewibble on April 27, 2013, 23:46 GMT

    On Sky, the cricket is delivered in 5.1 surround sound.... with commentary on the centre channel. I mute that speaker when Botham gets too irritating :)

  • romoss on April 27, 2013, 22:50 GMT

    Watching most of my cricket on Sky, I get easily fed up of one or two of their commentators who I find far too repetitive, especially as they are on so often during english season. Answer - listen to those you like then hit Harsha's hush button when the twits who keeps saying "that WILL be four" when the ball is already over the rope, comes on.

  • on April 27, 2013, 19:22 GMT

    I have loved the commentary of Sushil Doshi, Tony Greig and Harsha Bhogle. So, till the time Harsha Bhogle gives commentary, cricket fans would not mind listening. Otherwise, it will be only hearing (where people will not actually take notice of what commentators have said).

  • kristee on April 27, 2013, 18:14 GMT

    Tim Lane, Jim Maxwell & a few (can't remember names) were so good; you hardly feel bored even though you're not watching, just listening. Can't help being nostalgic about the ABC commentary then.

  • on April 27, 2013, 17:02 GMT

    Most of the TV commentators today are so limited, one can even predict the exact words they would use in certain situations . I, for one, would have certainly muted the audio and listened to the radio commentaries of people like Alan Mcgilray, JIm Maxwell,Brian Johnston, Tony Cozier etc if they were available. Unfortunately they are not , and we are stuck with the hype and inane chatter of modern experts, who will say nothing to antagonise the people who matter. One innovation would be to let the viewers hear the stump mikes(sledging and all) so that they know exactly what is going on at the ground.Why should the viewers be deprived of them when the commentators have access to them?

  • on April 27, 2013, 15:22 GMT

    I can vividly remember, in the 80s, turning down the volume on the TV and turning on the radio to listen to the radio commentary while watching the cricket. (Tried it again this summer just past and the radio was about 1 1/2 balls earlier than the TV)

  • on April 27, 2013, 10:51 GMT

    I miss the late great John Arlott. He did not say much but he spoke volumes. I reckon three commentators (current trent in Tests) is one too many. More often than not, I hit the mute button. A very famous said "don't tell them what's in the picture, tell them what they cannot say" or words to that effect. I often find some commentaries are diatribe, petty, cringeing and very ordinary and do the game a great disservice. There are exceptions to the rule. Still I think it is a case of too many cooks, poor quality commentary, worse when the cricket is also below par.

  • kristee on April 27, 2013, 7:34 GMT

    Actually a big majority don't even bother listening. They'd be talking all the time, not necessarily on even cricket. The toss and the actual proceedings only matter for many. They however try 'commentating' between themselves. With populist tendencies ever so much evident, well, I'm not particularly hopeful about any visible improvement, anytime in the near future .

  • wickedballs on April 27, 2013, 6:51 GMT

    The question is who we invite into our home. I accept, the need for commercial breaks (grin and bear) I do NOT except commentators adding to the overload (pause TV then fast forward). The standard of English commentary is probably the highest (except for Ian Botham, time for a cup of tea), Michael Holding and Colin Croft carry the flag for West Indian (TV still running).Aussie commentators,a dismal and that's coming from an Australian (commentary off ). Indian commentators Gavaskar and Shastri are like a married couple always bickering and be grudging (comedy factor high though). Finally the ring master of all that is wrong with television commentary Danny Morrison, (sound off and sometimes TV OFF!)

  • on April 27, 2013, 6:16 GMT

    THOSE of us criticizing the current crop of commentators such as Shazz, Ramiz, Sunny, Sidhu, Danny etc. should remember that they are just filling the supply demand gap. They are actually very intelligent people, specially after having played at the highest level -sunny is considered the best opener in the world. The problem is that, just like the IPL, they have to cater to the masses, majority of which is illiterate and uninterested in listening about the fine nuances of the game. they just want to know how an edge bw the slips "raced like a tracer bullet" instead of how playing crossed the line almost cost the batsman his wicket. U think Sunny, shaz etc. dont know what they should actually say? they do....only problem is their hands(tongues in this case) are tied

  • Mahi233 on April 27, 2013, 4:40 GMT

    I love Danny Morrison's commentary...double Ds nd Double Rs...he is full on entertainment

  • VarshaM on April 27, 2013, 1:46 GMT

    Great article Harsha....commentators like Bob Willis, and in the current group, L Sivaramakrishnan, we would like to have the option of watching matches with Nat sound only. Even Gavaskar and Shastri have been heard enough, and they dont add any value to the matches now. However praise must go to the Hindi commentary team of Kapil Dev, Wasim Akram, Rameez Raja, Arun Lal & Sidhu, for their teamwork in the recent India matches, when Hindi commentary was provided for the 1st time. Too many former cricketers going into commentary as a career....not good all the time.

  • Chris_P on April 27, 2013, 1:43 GMT

    Harsha, down here, plenty of people watch the cricket on TV without the commentary, many tune in to ABC grandstand radio coverage I (especially enjoy you are on when India tours) to gain a far more comprehensive detail of how the game is flowing. Far too much inane chatter seems to occur with TV commentary.

  • king_kenie on April 27, 2013, 1:39 GMT

    I think Harsha has hit his head on the nail with this one. Why do u think people watching at the ground also turn on their radio? No commentary you must be kidding me. Why do you think every other sport that is televised has the accompanied commentary? If you need a challenge as a commentator just entertain reviews via survey to the viewers and publicly rate commentators... much like we do players... Judging from all the praise in the comments above I am sure this one wouldn't be published... That's fine though, I'll just take this editorial as gospel and roll over for another commentators.

  • Reggaecricket on April 27, 2013, 1:26 GMT

    Navjoy Singh Sidhu neevr bothered me, I simply turned the volume down to zero! Commentary, especially by someone who is knowledgeable about the game, makes it that much more interesting to the viewer, and perhaps makes the experience better than being a spectator at the grounds. Sometimes fluency or colorful language is not all that important. Sanath Jayasuriya is a classic example of that, he knows the game so well that it hardly matters how he constructs his sentences. If there is a choice given to us, the choice should be not with or with commentary, but perhaps a choice of which commentator we can listen to?

  • 45runs on April 27, 2013, 0:54 GMT

    I couldn't agree more Harsha. A commentary free option would be wonderful (not only for cricket but ALL sports). But the networks will never do it, considering the money they spend on commentators. Although, that said, I suppose they could then monitor which commentators are actually listened to.

  • on April 27, 2013, 0:09 GMT

    But @degiant in that case you miss the sound of the stadium, the cheers, the roar, the sound of the bat hitting the ball, the shouts of the players everything...

  • on April 26, 2013, 23:34 GMT

    Harsha & Ian Bishop are a few who can actually listen in IPL, the rest are narrating what I am already see on TV. Shiva & Sunny are so irritating that you want to break your TV if they go on for more than 5 overs! Ravi knows how to scream on top of this voice. Ex-cricketers are not necessarily good commentators. We want some one like Nassir Hussain or some of the channel 9 commentators to give an expert opinon on the game!, but instead all I hear every 2 minutes is "running the first one hard..." or "there is deep midwicket, mid-off..." or "required rate is now.." and the best one keep praising sachin even if he can't play anymore. Nuff said!

  • Zak1234 on April 26, 2013, 23:33 GMT

    It is probably one of the best pieces written by HB. But the irony is that a lot of viewers I know would be amongst the first to use this option so as to not have to listen to HB!

    He still does come up with good articles like this one every now and again. But all he does in the combox is ask questions of his co-commentators. HB please get over your complex of not having played cricket at the highest level. You are smarter and more eloquent than many in the combos, so stop asking for their opinion all the time!

    On a different note, you could probably have experts like SMG, RD, sitting on their couches at home and doing commentary, so that they feel and react like a viewer at home?

  • Cricket_Fan_And_Analyst on April 26, 2013, 22:52 GMT

    Isn't mute button in your television/computer supposed to do that ? Why you need a separate feed for that ?

  • BravoNovember on April 26, 2013, 22:07 GMT

    For God's sake, let's retire Shastri and Gavaskar from the Indian commentary panel. I don't have any personal grudges against them, but Shastri is too banal, cliched and predictable with absolutely no insights whatsoever. Gavaskar, on the other hand, is plain irritating and his attempt at humor sometimes leaves you squirming. Commentary is an art and not everyone can be good at it. Harsha Bhogle is probably the only who is acceptable on the Indian front. We should allow for more newcomers to enter this domain to identify more talented and skillful commentators.

  • degiant on April 26, 2013, 21:31 GMT

    We do have a choice in that if we don't commentary we can turn it off and just watch the images on tv

  • on April 26, 2013, 21:23 GMT

    During the recent India/England series which had no Sky broadcast, the performance was very poor inddeed.. The commentary was so bad - so India centric - that I did turn the volume off some days, or listen to the radio on others. Sadly Mann and Agnews' "It was all better in my day" style diatribe gets on my wick very quickly. Agnew effecting fake bewlilderment at DRS. Mann's insistance on adding biased editorial - often stated as if it were fact. I suppose they can't all be Athers, Benaud or the very much missed Martin Jenkins - or even the jovial Lloyd (who under a veneer of comedy draws more common sense than Hussain and Knight put together). Having to listen to Shastri and Gavaskar point out every Indian move in the recent test series as if it was a work of genius, and ignore anything of worth England did showed that both sides need their own commentary teams.

  • ToTellUTheTruth on April 26, 2013, 21:18 GMT

    Yes...yes...please do. I would love to choose this option whenever you come on in the commentary box.

  • dabbler on April 26, 2013, 20:12 GMT

    Bravo Harsha for writing such an article. I've long dreamt of a time when we can shut off the commentary with the punch of a button and enjoy the game as it is. Watching it on mute robs the match of its real-timeness -- the noise of the crowd, ball meeting bat, the calls of the batsmen, etc. Today's commentators talk ALL the time, as if a silence of more than a few seconds makes them insecure. They need to realise that the average viewer watches matches to enjoy the on-field action, and would bless the soul of any commentator providing insightful, trenchant views that would elevate the experience. Richie Benaud said famously that he knew "when to shut up" when asked for the secret of his success. I think today's commentators could do with a dose of Benaud's method.

  • meakin123 on April 26, 2013, 19:59 GMT

    You could just turn the sound down

  • Iknownothing on April 26, 2013, 19:44 GMT

    It is very seldom that I comment but I would to have this option. It will be fantastic to hear to the sounds around the ground during a test match.

  • coldcoffee123 on April 26, 2013, 19:40 GMT

    I do not understand why the commentators feel the need to explain every ball, from the moment it is hit to the point when it is returned. And even worse is when they judge the batsman/bowler/fielder involved. I mean, are we the viewers blind? Why don't they leave it to us to interpret, judge and enjoy a cricketing action (bat/bowl/field)?

  • habitsus on April 26, 2013, 19:31 GMT

    You should check out an iphone app called YouCommentate. It lets the fan create their own commentary live for any sport.

  • dravindian on April 26, 2013, 18:07 GMT

    without commentary .... doesn't really sound good.. when sachin drives we want d commentator to tell how head was still, balance was right, placement was perfect even though we know it. It stimulates the reward centre in our brain even further which is already stimulated when master produced the drive.. we r not tired of sachin hitting the same drive over the decades , why should we tired of the same commentary... all present commentators r fairly good enough & some r excellent, i dont understand why this bla bla is going in all these comment .. mediocre commentary & all. when dravid says something in commentary box or in mid / post match tv show ,it is gold standard , how can we miss that, isn't it so harsha.

  • Siddharth.Vignesh on April 26, 2013, 18:02 GMT

    Absolutely yes. A brave call. All along the past I had the issue of listening to annoying commentary (on my perspective) even though I didn't like it.

    With all due respect, Harsha himself was in the list where I wouldn't prefer to hear, along with few more.

    It's great if Cricinfo can do a voting on this!

  • deepak226 on April 26, 2013, 17:35 GMT

    I really appreciate Harsha Bhogle for this article of his. It shows how open he is to improvement and feedback. I do agree give the viewer the power of choice. I hope one day that people can even choose the language in which they want to hear the commentary also. I would like to hear Kannada commentary like the the times I used to listen to comments from my friends when we played. that was fun.

  • on April 26, 2013, 17:30 GMT

    Good one to try.. but seriously can't imagine watching Cricket without commentary. On other hand it is true that commentary over the years hasn't changed. I used to love the pre-match and post-match sessions earlier by Harsha,S.G.,R.S.,G.F.,N.S. (Furious five's :) ) , now day's it's missing.. There used to be detailed analysis of a test match used to enjoy a lot. They helped me educate about Cricket a lot. May be we just need few new commentators with fresh thoughts along with the furious fives off-course.

  • josh.davis on April 26, 2013, 17:24 GMT

    'On the assumption that the viewer, who effectively funds the telecast, must get what he feels he deserves'. The problem is that in television the audience is not the consumer, we are the product being sold to the advertisers.

  • on April 26, 2013, 17:14 GMT

    fair enough i do not want to hear Sanjay Manjrekar and R.Raja commentary.Its mediocre

  • wcchamps0011 on April 26, 2013, 16:49 GMT

    I have to agree that I have watched a few games for considerable lengths of time unable to bear the commentary of some commentators. Channel9 and Sky Spoets(Uk) provide by far the best commentary compared to others. The entertainment value and the banter that goes on on Channel9 and Sky Sports is great for the listner where they offer trivia, stories and funny incidents which engages the listener and also gives him/her a sense of history. I must admit that the beeak time analysis of Sky Sports(UK) is one of the best ever. The preparation adn the profound knowledge is very impressive. Just merely verbalising what is on TV is a total buzz kill. I would love to explore the option of watching the match will just the sounds from the ground and it will certainly be interesting to listen to the stump mic!!!

  • mithse89 on April 26, 2013, 16:16 GMT

    Gr8 1 Harsha!! Every time i hear a Commentator, specially your Indian Co Commentators (don wanna name them) say player's not in form with the bat, it makes me think excuse me, what about your form with mic in your hands... But respects for you Harsha!!

  • Y2SJ on April 26, 2013, 16:15 GMT

    I wouldn't mind to pay to keep Ravi Sastri and Sunil Gavaskar out of the commentary. Would be nice to watch the match only with stadium noise.

  • on April 26, 2013, 16:06 GMT

    Your idea keeps well with the spirit of Six Sigma , continuous improvement. It has come to a stage where I MUTE the TV.

    Commentary has become boring, you can actually write a code that spits ouy recorded sentences , and it will work well because everything is so Cliched and a lot less analysis is actually being done.

    Many commentators aim for higher TRPs , blab something like DLF Maximum , Double Ds , Intelligent cricket after taking a single , ball stays hit when he hits it , out of the park for a commonplace six. The IPL has enough entertainment in it , there is no need to artificially add some more!

    No one talks of why a field placement is in place , what could have been done , if a Batsman plays a sick shot and gets caught it becomes intelligent field placement.

    Its high time some KPIs are introduced for commentators

  • on April 26, 2013, 15:56 GMT

    I agree with Anupam Bharve. I understand the sponsors need to get their air time but iirc the laws of broadcasting (as in FCC in US) have a ratio for program time to commercial break time. When the commentators are forced to add the sponsor name to the boundary hit or speak about the special viewing enclosure or more smartly about the lucky winner of a signed ball we know the line is getting crossed perhaps but no one minds it except fans. They can be smart about it and Harsha, for obvious reasons, silent on that point but this will breed greed and one day the overkill will distance the fan from the game like we will see a cricket following crisis like the global financial crisis.

  • on April 26, 2013, 15:49 GMT

    Having lived in the United States and an ardent subscriber to Willow TV, a broadcaster that does all its broadcast through YouTube, it is my belief that the world cricket would do really well if it went that route. There is perhaps no more freedom for a cricket afficianado than that. In the perfect utopia in mind, a person will have the option of picking the feed, the camera angles, the commentary, the graphics. It is then we might see professional commentary stations open up and be licensed to be on the ground and comment on the game from there. This perhaps is an unthinkable dream, but for too long the cricket fan has been drowned by the noise that is Morrison's 'Double Ds' or 'Double Rs'.

    We need more youth to get involved in commentary. Force radio heads to start channels for cricket fans. Then the real commentary talent of the world will come forward. And you dont need to be an ex-player these days to have an informed opinion on the game. We need the next Harsha.

  • Test-Cricket on April 26, 2013, 15:31 GMT

    oh boy.. how i miss Richie Benaud.. He was a class act..

  • tony122 on April 26, 2013, 15:15 GMT

    Very Nice Article. Harsha has a habit of coming out with a Gem every now and then. I agree No option of commentary will be fantastic. Just Ground noises and crowd noises. i will add a few points. if a viewer chooses No commentary option he should get a slightly different visual. For example No IPL style dug out interview or visuals of commentators talking to themselves. That will just raise his curiosity or be an irritant. Otherwise many like me have to just turn OFF the volume many a times and watch Cricket. Not that I dislike all commentators but modern commentators talk a bit too much. They can be fun and educative but if you want to watch in a relaxed manner you cannot listen to them. Sometimes you want to form your own opinion or you want to discuss the game among your buddies. In those moments commentators viewpoints is not needed.

  • nayonika on April 26, 2013, 15:00 GMT

    As an avid cricketer in young and not so young days and as an arm chair cricketer for most of my life now I have heard commentators from Vizzy (ugh),Berry, Pearson, Setalvad, Rutnagar,Puri,Merchant,Anand Rao, VM Chakrapani,McGilvray,Benaud and so many others in ABC, BBC. The best of the lot ? Richie Benaud of course. Amongst the present lot of Indian TV commentators Harsha Bhogle is good because he speaks less and gives good observations for us sitting at home. Among the latest lot Dravid is very good and Ganguly would become one if he stops captaining from the commentary box.

  • on April 26, 2013, 14:45 GMT

    what about just using the 'Mute' button on your remote?

  • on April 26, 2013, 14:42 GMT

    Let's start with the commentators dropping all the commercial endorsements ( crap like DLF Minimum, Citi moment of FAILURE ( wasnt that in 2008 when the DOW imploded?) )

  • on April 26, 2013, 14:40 GMT

    good one harsha, i would mute the channel rather listening to ravi shastri

  • on April 26, 2013, 14:32 GMT

    @gracegift. I completely agree with you. Commentary by persons who played the game has helped young cricketers as well. Not only commentary but also replays, showing the way bowlers should hold the seam for swing. You hear commentators speak about follow through. You also hear how batsmen should play and so forth. A cricketer who may not play for a team or have coach can learn on his own.

  • crkt4evr on April 26, 2013, 14:20 GMT

    really hearing sidhu and morrison is utter punishment thrust upon viewers! they are not your usual commentators who can be ok to everyone but its diff with this guys your either going to hate them or love them which makes this option more necessary one! HELLO BROADCASTERS!!! WE ARE PAYING A LOT SUCH SIMPLE OPTIONS ARE A MUST! PLEASE GIVE IT A GOOD THOUGHT........

  • reb1 on April 26, 2013, 14:20 GMT

    I think the t20 producers have dictated the direction in which the commentary has gone. There is a conscious effort to be loud, noisy and hyperbolic when it comes to this format. I thought Robin Jackman was very subtle with his commentary in a couple of games that I caught him. I would add to Harsha's comment and say that there needs to be an option to watch the cricket without having to indulge in the party atmosphere that is forced down our throat, and I find that muting the tv is an excellent option.

  • Hoggy_1989 on April 26, 2013, 14:15 GMT

    Richie Benaud always says what he was told when he first started working for the BBC, "If you've got nothing to add to the pictures, say nothing." Something a lot of commentators around the world (particularly those covering IPL) should take on board. As for commentators being used to plug the sponsors at every opportunity, they'd only be doing so because they're contractually obligated to do it. If their contract says they have to do the whole thing standing on their heads...they'd probably do it because there's plenty of people who will do it if they won't. As for muting TV commentary and leaving background noise, the pay-TV Foxtel channels in Australia have that option - something I gladly take up every time Harsha Bhogle (the only Indian cricket commentator I respect and listen to avidly) isn't commentating.

  • TeamRocker on April 26, 2013, 14:01 GMT

    @Harshad K Trivedi: Pretty sure he knows that...he's suggesting a no-commentary experience, but still with the regular sounds like the crowd, the bat hitting the ball etc. Regardless, your idea is pretty cool, if they can manage it.

  • on April 26, 2013, 13:57 GMT

    blimey, incredibly harsh on Mark Taylor to be placed next to a headline which says "Give viewers the no-commentary option" when people like Shastri and Bob Willis are around.

  • TRAM on April 26, 2013, 13:27 GMT

    Harsha, thanks for bringing this topic. I hate when commentators say 'That was well stopped at thirdman'. We already know it is thirdman and we know he stopped it well. Yes, if thats all a commentator can say, I want him to keep mum. TV commentators seem to forget that we are watching too. I want to hear only intricate & impartial analysis from experts, ex-captains/players.

    Instead of no-commentary, here is my suggestion. Let there be a numerous ex-players doing the commentary from their home, via internet. I will choose the commentator on the fly any time. If it is the last over of the match with 8 runs to win bowled by a pace bowler, I certainly want to hear what Akram thinks the bowler should bowl. Some one else may want to hear from Ponting on what fielding strategy the bowling captain should have, and so on. Additionally, yes, it would be nice to hear the players conversations live. At least the captain's conversations.

  • on April 26, 2013, 13:22 GMT

    Interesting to read how many listeners mute Danny Morrision. Please add me to the list as in my opinion it is hysterical claptrap . Perhaps the T.V. company should be made aware of our feelings ? Good commentators only speak when the have something to add to the pictures we are receiving , e.g. giving additional information .

  • on April 26, 2013, 13:17 GMT

    I really wonder if Harsha Bhogle is a Technical man! The option of Commentary is at Hand for the Viewer, He can just shut off the Sound from his TV or Computer as simple as that. The only thing that can be good is the option of a Commentary in different language, like in India we have may be 9 Teams playing, so may be 9 different Languages for the different viewers: Hindi, Bengali, Pujabi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Malayalee or Urdu. Think you can do that ?

  • venkatesh018 on April 26, 2013, 13:15 GMT

    It is an option long overdue for viewers. I can give a long list of "mundane" commentators mouthing inanities daily on sports channels. But Cricinfo users know better. Actually I am waiting for a poll on Cricinfo asking which commentator would you "mute" the most ?

  • MalayKothari on April 26, 2013, 13:12 GMT

    Good. That would save me from hearing RAMEEZ and WASIM without muting my TV.

  • kamikazekid on April 26, 2013, 12:57 GMT

    Finally some straight talk from Harsha. Kudos to you for even suggesting this since a lot of your fellow commentators will be out of a job pronto ! Empowering the viewer will make the game better for all and bring the viewer closer to the action. I really like the mic'd up version. They do this regularly in the NBA and NFL where you hear the coach speak to the players. There is also an opportunity to do something similar to NFL sounds where you get to listed to edited audio and video tape of players talking to each other on the sidelines. It would be fantastic to hear what MSD thought of Kohli's drive when he was sitting and watching in the pavilion. Or to hear the reaction in the dressing room when the opener got clonked on the head by a Steyn bouncer. There are many many opportunities, just need the will of the administrators.

  • nlight on April 26, 2013, 12:55 GMT

    Richie Benaud - sublime; Danny Morrison - have to turn the sound off. Hysterical hyperbole just isn't appropriate for cricket, even T20.

  • landl47 on April 26, 2013, 12:51 GMT

    It would be great to be able to switch some commentators off. Harsha mentions Danny Morrison- he's painful to listen to. Ian Botham rarely has anything constructive to say and Bob Willis has the most boring voice in the history of commentary.

    However, most of the time the commentary team adds something to the action. A few years ago an American football game was broadcast with no commentary at all. It was a disaster and the experiment has not been repeated.

    I'd love to be able to hear the crowd noise without commentary occasionally, but most of the time I'm interested to hear (and sometimes disagree with!) what the experts say.

  • shivtandan on April 26, 2013, 12:51 GMT

    Hi Harsha! Great article. Wonder if you're clued into the facebook/twitter feeds that make fun of commentator-clich├ęs? There is definitely something amiss.

    I have a suggestion.

    Interestingly, I seem to enjoy watching cricket most when I'm among rival team fans. Yet, this situation is not easy to come by. Watching the World Cup Semi Final with Pakistani friends was sensational, for example...

    Perhaps a new commentary paradigm could be a tag-team war of words in the commentary box... Harsha & Danny support CSK, while Ravi and Darren support RCB etc. That would be entertaining! Extending it to pre- and post-match scenarios:

    - team analyses could be factual, but biased - "I know Gayle's not getting started this season, but this match, I tell you. This match. I saw him at the nets, and he looked ready." - there could be a "voice of the match" award...

    This way, you can bring the 'challenge' you mentioned into the box, without having to wait for the 'policy makers' to catch up.

  • Chris_Howard on April 26, 2013, 12:40 GMT

    I want the cricket nerd commentary!

    I still enjoy the radio commentary more than the TV one, but with stations deliberately putting delays in, it's not possible to get them in sync.

    I like radio commentary because it doesn't just cover the game, it covers cricket. It paints a broader picture of cricket, with a lot more behind the scenes stories of cricket and cricketers.

    TV is like watching the movie; radio is like reading the book. And usually, the book version is better and more fulfilling.

    So I'd like to see Harsha's idea extended to allowing TV viewers to take radio commentary. That'd sharpen up the TV commentators!

  • couchpundit on April 26, 2013, 12:35 GMT

    Hi Harsha,

    If you are in chennai for any IPL games...listen to Hellofm...although you might not be able to make heads or tails of the program... its not even commentary..yet a brief commentary of the CSK matches for the entire stretch of the match. Few of chennaites while viewing the video prefer muting the TV and listen to this program in radio...its like watching street cricket with your friends sitting on compound walls and commenting on players and umpires and the passer by. The show is called "Solli adi" if you get a good interpreter...you will be translated to formative years of playing cricket pure fun. BTW i am in no way related to this radio station or anybody who does the show or the sponsors.

  • JayPmorgan on April 26, 2013, 12:30 GMT

    The purpose of commentary is to add value to what you are seeing , not to state the obvious in banal cliches ("That went like a trace bullet really gets on my nervers") . This is why I find ex-captains really add value to what you see , although are honorable exceptions. Mike Atherton , Nasser Hussain , Ian Chappell , Mark Taylor , Richie Benaud , Sunny Gavaskar do not incessantly talk. Sometimes silence is golden. Rameez Raja , Shiva , Danny Morrison , In fact pretty much all the present IPL roster are very poor, with the exception of Ravi / Sunny / Harsha

  • sankydagr8 on April 26, 2013, 12:23 GMT

    Imagine how much fun will it be if viewers had option of choosing their camera angles rather than same behind bowlers arm during live telecast and for replays.. Its gives viewers kind of a 3D experience.. As far as commentry is concered its a dying breed, a commentator should not only say whats going on in the field butalso give audience an insight into what players could be thinking during game which will help kids watching cricket

  • gracegift on April 26, 2013, 12:06 GMT

    Very well written as usual. I remember Rahul Dravid, when asked, why there are so many cricketers coming from smaller towns now, he replied that 'Commentators are their coaches'. These kids educate themselves by listening to expert commentators, whom we often deride. For the same reason, I think it's fabulous that we have Hindi commentary too. Commentators are a much maligned lot, and I think they deserve better.

  • itismenithin on April 26, 2013, 11:58 GMT

    I wish viewers could pick the commentators they want to listen to, half of them are absolutely irritating to your ears. Morrison, Siva.. to name a few. My fav list would include David Gower, Mike Artherton, Bill Lawry, Ian Chappel, Richie Benaud, Tony cozier, Barry Richards , Harsha & Sunny.

  • SoverBerry2 on April 26, 2013, 11:50 GMT

    Good article! Please make commentary neutral as much as possible. People actually don't like a biased commentator who only praises a particular team/ or view...

  • gurussm on April 26, 2013, 11:41 GMT

    Something to be done as so as possible

  • on April 26, 2013, 11:34 GMT

    stadium viewing has changed so much now,just saw a test in mumbai last november and an ipl game in pune now.In a test you can't give the tv viewer just stadium sound as there are no score announcements every over,or announcements for the new bowler,batsman like in the ipl...so ipl may be good for just stadium sound viewing...but u need commentators in tests

  • Ranta on April 26, 2013, 11:27 GMT

    Thought Provoking.

    A drill I did. I saw few videos of age old matches & Some of today on Youtube. Guess what in terms of the content of commentary, Nothing has changed. In defence of Mr Morrison, I would like to say Just hear late Tony Greig. But Tony was always like that so I presume that was his Character. But I saw Danny hosting pre & mid shows for series between SA Vs Pak, Was a completely different Danny. As if he forgot his Redbull home.

    Point is at times commentator describes a players action as "not acceptable at highest level". Lot of the times, they themselves make mistakes which are not acceptable to me, a viewer. Spoils the fun.

    There should be some performance judgement criteria for commentators also. If some one is bad don't get him to game again.

    As "Mute" so often comes to rescue when we don't like someone, We also don't like match without commentary. Its bland. As if you are having boiled food. Its healthy yes but no fun.

    Good commentary is always welcome !

  • AlexPaulK on April 26, 2013, 11:17 GMT

    We do use the mute button Harsha. Sad, but the fact is the current crop of commentators make a mockery of analyzing the game. When will we get our Gary Neville in cricket?

  • Digboi on April 26, 2013, 11:11 GMT

    A good thought indeed - I just would like to hope that some day we will also have an opportunity to watch games of cricket without the advertisements, even if for an extra fee!

    I think most genuine lovers of cricket would agree!

  • HeadHammerShark on April 26, 2013, 11:08 GMT

    I can't think of anyone more appropriate to be asking the question about commentary standards than Harsha Bogle - the man who makes me reach for the mute button.

    It's an interesting question though - I doubt people want no commentary at all, I suspect they just want better commentary. In the end we will get options like US baseball fans: home/away TV feed, home/away radio feed and the ability to overlay one with the other. In England, a lot of fans prefer the Test Match Special radio team to the cozy Sky world of Botham and Lloyd.

    My personal reflection is that there are some very strong, thoughtful broadcasters around: Nasser Hussain, Mike Atherton, Ian Smith, Tony Cozier, Mike Heyman and Mark Taylor all spring to mind. Of course, those guys are much less energetic than the likes of Danny Morrison and are all rather more at home with a Test match than the IPL.

    Each to their own - no doubt many fans will disagree and say they like Bogle - I'd just like the option to choose.

  • on April 26, 2013, 11:03 GMT

    worst idea.. ever.. i didnot care to read about the article as soon as I read the title.. If you want to change anything for tv viewers, cut off those massively stupid adverts during the game in L shape and after every single tiny break in the game. Few ads only between alternative overs at most and if utterly necessary.. otherwise innings break is enough to show any ads..

  • Damian123 on April 26, 2013, 10:46 GMT

    I think both suggestions would do some justice to the fans. There are lots of sub-standard & biased commentaries, viewers/listners have to put up with. After 40+ years experience, SKY is the best for me!

  • on April 26, 2013, 10:14 GMT

    As always great idea from harsha. often one turn the volume "mute" to avoid the commentary. It is an idea worth experimenting.

  • on April 26, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    a very fine article by a very fine commentator. if the experiment harsha suggested is actually undertaken it may also give an opportunity to young budding commentators to evaluate themselves. commentary by non former players is lacking in india. harsha being maybe the sole famous exception. nice and easy way to groom yourself it will be if they do perform the experiment.

  • on April 26, 2013, 10:09 GMT

    One of the biggest drawbacks of listening to commentary these days is to go through crap like "karbonn Kamaal Catch" or the "DLF Maximum". I seldom watch IPL, but when I do, I usually put my TV in a "Mute" mode. Instead of good commentary, we get to see/hear the advertisements more from the commentators. Nothing puts me off more than that. There is a dearth of good hindi commentators too. Some of the earlier cricketers who were not good at english commentary perhaps, started commentating in Hindi, and it was pathetic to listen to them. It's a sheer delight to listen to the likes of Richie Benaud, Robin Jackman, Harsha Bhogle, Sunil Gavaskar and to Tony Greig when he was around. On the other hand, listening to Arun lal, Sidhu, Lakshman Shivramakrishnan, Rameez Raja, danny morrison is like punishing your ears.

  • on April 26, 2013, 10:09 GMT

    "A commentator must be heard not because the viewer has no choice but because he chooses to listen." - Wow... Well Said...

    As far as the option of not listening to commentary goes, as i dont have Cable TV at home, my cricketing experince for the last 7 years have been all Doordarshan.I love Hindi,but trust me, thier Hindi commentary s horribly terrible...and i think of Mute option,but then i miss the ground-sound.It was a dilemma, but thinks get better in every 30 miinutes, as commentary of the official channel returns & i say "Thank GOD"!

  • muski on April 26, 2013, 10:00 GMT

    Harsha- The varying comments that you have got for this article is an indication of what the viewers feel. What is cacophony to some is music to other. When some of them are called Pathetic, couple of others find them to be " good". Thats the way humans will be anyway. So do not worry.As one of your old mates said in his comment, he mutes it anyway. Therefore the best is to give the option of muting to the viewers- we dont want all you guys to be jobless!!!!

  • m0se on April 26, 2013, 9:38 GMT

    If cars had developed as fast as PC processors they would go at 470,000 mph. Not everything develops and advances at the same rate. Besides, cricket commentary already had it's advances through radio and early television and don't grounds have multiple commentary boxes for different channels/languages anyways? However, I doubt this will happen in India or IPL because there is a lot of brand promotion through the commentary.

  • on April 26, 2013, 9:37 GMT

    Nice article Harsha. I want to share with you two thoughts.

    First during the AIR commentary era, I remember my audition experience which I was ofcourse unsuccessful. I found that what was required was lots of Ahs and Wows and excitement rather than a correct description.

    This shouting and showing a high level of emotion more than describing the nuances has continued even during the TV days. For a short while, it looks tolerable. But later it is jarring and we mute the TV anyway.

    The present day commentary as one of the readers has pointed out is more a filmy show than description of the game. For people of my age who have enjoyed the olden day ABC commentary, the filmy duniya with jumping-jumping and half naked girls appear disgusting and revolting.

    We are only there because of the game and despite the kinds of Mandira Bedi and other models speaking eloquently on how the pitch will behave etc trying to put us off.

  • TheScud on April 26, 2013, 9:37 GMT

    Well...this piece is something i've been waiting for months...Happy to see that finally it comes from you. I agree that Technology has changed the overall viewing experience. I particularly love the Spider cam, player's microphones, hawkeye, hotspot etc which have all made the overall viewing experience worthwhile. However the quality of commentary has dipped to ridiculously low standards. I understand a little bit of excitement is good in T20 game but Danny Morrison's constant hamming is turning out to be Obnoxious. I don't quite understand how you fellow commentators can put up with that in the commentary box. Not just him, there are a few more who, in the name of generating excitement, resort to loud yelling.

    I believe commentators are supposed to elevate the viewing experience. Sadly, that has turned out in to farce these days. I miss the commentary in good old 90's. Boycott, Holding, Tony Grieg, Benaud to name a few. Can't wait for the Ashes to listen to BBC's TMS team :)

  • mrbaddy on April 26, 2013, 8:59 GMT

    Good One Harsha. I honestly believe that you are limited in your capacity to not include one more aspect that had driven you to this no-commentary suggestion. About your reluctance in saying "????" Maximum after every six. I can clearly sense the difference how other commentators announce a maximum (with excitement) and you announce the same (showing the reluctance to commercialize a cricket shot, if I may say so).

    With that understanding behind, I think you can do more instead of getting forced into doing a thing which you dont want to, and being diplomatic in the way you want to highlight the issue without hurting the REAL PEOPLE. You being the most popular non-cricketer commentator from India, lot of people will look up to you as inspiration/leader in this field. Wont leaders stand up against the MIGHT for what they believe is right?

    Commerce is important, but not at the cost of losing cricketing sense.

  • on April 26, 2013, 8:55 GMT

    Harsha, could you address the argument that the IPL would have been better broadcast by an actual sports network and not a network that is more adept at doing reality shows and megaserials?

  • on April 26, 2013, 8:38 GMT

    Harsha, I have a sneaking suspicion you got this idea after listening to some of your co-commentators! Very good idea, though.

  • Eightfa on April 26, 2013, 8:32 GMT

    Hasha this would be great for test cricket to have the ambient noise of the game as I potter around the house but I would still need my fix of skull, Jim maxwell and the bowloligist flem.

  • YesGuru on April 26, 2013, 8:30 GMT

    Good idea sir ji. IPL would do better with Wimbeldon like commentary. The IPL commentary now is more akin to IPL trademark trumphet plus sound.

  • sudhirrao on April 26, 2013, 8:22 GMT

    Rarely we get an article on the nuances of TV commentary. Thanks for this. And hope we have more such pieces in the future. I sometimes enjoy matches these days without the commentary using the mute button on the remote. I am sure other people do it. Is it really necessary to have a ''no-commentary option'' as put forth by Harsha?

  • on April 26, 2013, 8:22 GMT

    I wish we could have the choice to switch off or switch commentaries. My pet hate with Australia's Channel 9 TV cricket commentary (and I'm sure I'm not alone) is listening to Mark Taylor, Ian Healy, etc flogging the latest item of cricket memorabilia or promoting another Channel 9 TV program. And, sadly, the every-increasing commercial dimension of a commentator's role is precisely why it's hard to imagine the scenario that Harsha is suggesting.

  • MariusRoodt on April 26, 2013, 8:18 GMT

    Supersport in South Africa had that option for some time. In South Africa's tour to Australia last year one could choose to listen to South African commentary, Afrikaans commentary, or the feed from Channel Nine.

  • ooper_cut on April 26, 2013, 8:14 GMT

    Though the no commentary option is welcome, I am sure it wont be a runaway success because we do enjoy some of the commentary, especially the witty ones from sunny and the recent anecdotes fromo ganguly/dravid etc. Like Jarrod said, there should be an option to change commentary styles and select our favourite commentators. Also, can we not have more new faces/voices coming in especially youngsters ? Why not another Bhogle? Most of the commentators have become boring and very very repetitive in their comments.Take Shastri for example, he has about 3-4 catch phrases that he keeps using all the time. Are we to listen to them only till they retire? Give them also a break and time to ponder on their work.

  • Kunal.Vohra on April 26, 2013, 7:56 GMT

    Coming from Harsha Bhogle, this is ironic and, I wonder, if the article is directed as much at himself as it is the articulation of an idea whose time may have come. He is every bit as verbose, offering annoying little bits of irrelevant information and/or anecdotes as some of the others, many of whom state the obvious. But, to be fair to him, I also wonder whether this, the inane verbosity, is, actually, the nature of the beast. Television has brought about this age of the really annoying anchors and news journalists, who, more often than not, are shrill and argumentative. Yet, when one reads their articles in newspapers, they seem to make a lot more sense than one has begun to give them credit for. I find this to be true of almost all television journalists and so it is with Harsha. His article, this one, at least, is good and makes a very interesting point. His commentary, I'm afraid, does not. So, maybe it's something in the nature of television. Or, at least, Indian television,

  • on April 26, 2013, 7:48 GMT

    Commentary Is the soul of Cricket.Its true that it should not be overdone.

  • Cricket_Man on April 26, 2013, 7:46 GMT

    I love the commentary of Richie Benaud, David Lloyd, Michael Holding, Ian Bishop, Bill Lawry, Mark Taylor, Sidhu and Pollock. Ramiz and Shastri are ok. Rest of them are irritating. Oh by the way, Danny Morrison you should give commentary auditions for a wrestling company.

  • hhillbumper on April 26, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    there is not much artistry to punditry.it is pretty good for the test standard but the shorter the format the more frenentic the babble gets. The IPL commentary is frankly embarrasing with more sales pitches per second. To watch IPL with no sound would be a bonus.

  • lateef21 on April 26, 2013, 7:18 GMT

    Thanks Harsha for illustrating this! Its always a treat to read what you write. Two days ago I tweeted the same opinion when we were forced to listen to hindi commentary because of no signal on Max. Bad commentry is like a bad icing on the ice cream.....instead of making it more delicious it makes it awful. I really hope your suggestions gets implemented some day.

  • quittthewhinging on April 26, 2013, 7:12 GMT

    I love the idea of no commentary. Especially when we have a glut of cricket like in the IPL; I mean I don't need to be told the score is XXX when it's already on the screen. Or that the ball went to the fence with one bounce. In saying this, I don't blame the commentators. The cricket itself with just the sounds of the stadium would be great.

    Other sports are far worse. I loathe Wimbledon with the ever-present McEnroe, Becker, Cash, Wade, Austin, et al, and the studio commentators pandering to them & their achievements of 20/30 years ago. And the continuous efforts to suggest that Wimbledon is #1. In point of fact I prefer the French.

    Go for it Harsha!

  • on April 26, 2013, 7:11 GMT

    Fantastic piece. The availability of enabling technology for getting fans interaction should be utilized more! Its this kind of innovation that keeps todays fan more interested in the game and will certainly contribute. If fans are allowed a plathform to actually challenge what is said by commentators it will certainly add tomthe intrigue. Many fan are extremely knowledgeable about the game and can and do make very insightful comment. And it will keep some commentators honest and mindful of what is said because they are not always correct in their thinking or opinions.

  • Sooraj4cricket on April 26, 2013, 6:59 GMT

    Great article...Simply cannot imagine watching a cricket match without commentary.Seems more like a heart without a beat,because the true essence of the game lies in the way its brought to the common viewer.With the commercialisation,people are more interested in the sixes hit and length of it,while all the time being ignorant of the technicalities.I have heard from people who follow cricket in th 70s,in the radio,glorify the way in which a text book cover drive of Chappell,a murderous smack past the bowler's head of Richards,Lillee delivering a fast outswinger hissing past the outside edge of a batsman, or even a technically sound forward defence of Boycott are all brought to the viewer as if it happens in front of your eyes.Those glorious days of cricket are long gone.From being an art its has degraded down to something corporate.I certainly believe it is upto those,who bring the game to the viewers,to bring back its past glory...

  • mvganesh on April 26, 2013, 6:59 GMT

    My ratings on some of the commentators Very Good : Harsha, Henry B, Hussain, David L, Mike Holding, Mark Nicholaus

    Good : Sunny G, L Shiva, Imran,

    Bad : Shastri, Sanjay M, Sourav, Wasim A

    Pathetic : Ramiz, VVS, Jayasuria, Sidhu

    Pre-Post Match Analysis : Dravid is the best

    All said and done I still would like to watch the commentary ON

  • oranjizer on April 26, 2013, 6:30 GMT

    Harsha, personally, i could not watch any game mute. Closest was F1 where i still preferred the sound of cars without which the adrenaline was missing. Still i wanted to hear what commentators had to say to gain more knowledge about the sport and cars (with cricket i feel i dont any more knowledge, i know it all :P). I dont think i can watch cricket mute, i wanna listen to not just crowd reactions but also some good commentary. The issue is not that one wants to mute because they do not want to listen but it is because of the few commentators they do not want to listen to.

    To be honest, i like listening to Danny Morisson because he is funny. I miss Geff Boycs orgasmic accent, r.i.p Tony Grieg miss him too. Dont wanna say this but i hate to listen to lakshmanshiva, shastri, ganguly, few srilankans, wasim akram and all recently retired cricketers. You, Gavaskar are good but the rest of Indian commentators, huh i dont listen to them.

  • bobmartin on April 26, 2013, 6:30 GMT

    Harsha makes some very valid points. I'll ignore T20 and other limited overs cricket here, as these are simply entertainment, and I guess for the majority of viewers the commentary adds to the excitement value. But in terms of test cricket, one wonders if the current levels of commentary are really necessary.For example, the inanity of telling us that a ball which has just thudded into the boundary boards is four, or that a player who has just been bowled is out, or reading out the scores when the scorboard is on the screen, is beyond belief. Too many commentators are ex-players, most in the Sky team are also ex-captains who are too full of their own importance and the sound of their own voice. They seem to think that their opinions are what is required. It isn't. Yes please, give us viewers the option to silence these know-alls and let us watch the game in peace. That is what we turn on our TV for, to watch the game not be "entertained" with incessant pointless drivel..

  • hailianpak on April 26, 2013, 6:24 GMT

    Harsha, for me, you r one of the best writers on cricinfo. I always love to read your articles whether I like the topic or not because ur style of writing is very interesting and above all I don't find your articles biased which should be an ultimate feature of every writer. But this article is even better because of its interesting topic and quality of writing. About Commentary, I think live gound audio without commentary would be a good option to have for the viewers, at least thats what I think. And the option of two different types of commentary sounds equally good.

  • KK47 on April 26, 2013, 6:23 GMT

    Gutsy article by Harsha. But for me, watching cricket without commentary is like eating english breakfast - bland and spice-less. The greatest thing about Harsha is that he never talks as a cricket 'expert' even after so many years. His questions and comments almost mirror that of spectators.

  • Shantonu_Mitra on April 26, 2013, 6:07 GMT

    This is in response to the post of STRAIGHT_TALK. I agree to an extent that TV commentary today is cacophony. However, the entry of cricketers has enriched the viewing. Now after listening to them I as an ordinary viewer know what is movement off the seam/off the pitch. Previously we used to be simply fed with events happening on the field even on TV which viewer himself knew very well. The critical analysis was missing. What is the difference in facing Brett Lee and Shaun Tait can be explained by an international cricketer only. Also the cognitive part of the game can be brought forth by ex-palyers only as they have been into the situation. Cricketers like Gavaskar, Shastri, Ganguly, Dravid, Warne, Border, etc. have made cricket watching very meaningful and also enjoyable as they keep on sharing anecdotes which a non-cricketers is simply unaware of. To make the standards high and eliminate cacophony there should some guidelines and framework.

  • on April 26, 2013, 5:34 GMT

    Harsha, beg to differ with Kabir (to each is own I guess) but I really enjoy your commentary. It's a pity Dravid is playing this IPL in only one dimension- we're missing out on his commentary!

    In an aside, regarding the option to turn off commentary in the IPL- just wishful thinking. The sponsors wouldn't have it. Unless some graphic screaming YES BANK MAXIMUM kept popping up on our television screens. Much rather have standard commentary with the option to mute when Danny Morrison is screaming agitatedly.

  • AvmanM on April 26, 2013, 5:30 GMT

    This would certainly be nice, but would the sponsors approve it? Commentators in the IPL are just spokespersons for one or another sponsor ("Citi moment of success"). I imagine if the commentators are replaced, the sponsors will simply replace it with more advertising, which is hardly ideal for anyone.

  • on April 26, 2013, 5:27 GMT

    A very valid suggestion from Harsha [ and a terribly bold one too.. considering his current position as the most visible cricket commentator]. I still feel commentary is like fine wine, adds great taste to the dish when take in small quantities. But letting loose a non-stop verbal drone, that most current cricket commentators take as a norm, including ( especially !!) Harsha makes one crave for some silence. Our commentators may learn from the objectivity and the brevity of Wimbeldon commentators.

  • on April 26, 2013, 5:25 GMT

    what ever be the progress technology brings to the game, camera and commentating. the commentators are very important and they have to be there.

    who would call great yester year legends to the box for a short chat. all that would be missing.

    no i dont agree - the commentator like harsha bhoghle himself is vdery important and pivotal to the game and its description.

  • on April 26, 2013, 5:20 GMT

    It is great idea to have a "no-commentary" option. I hate the time when Danny morrison & Lakshman SivaRamakrishnan & Ramiz Raja are on air. They depict things the opposite to what is actually happening! Mr.Gavaskar & Mr.Chappel got old and the standards are dipped

    But the sad part is that no new entrants look good at commentary. As there is a lack talent in cricket, the commentary is also missing new talents!

  • Agnihothra on April 26, 2013, 5:13 GMT

    "A commentator must be heard not because the viewer has no choice but because he chooses to listen." Amen!! Truer words have been written seldom before!!!

  • vatsap on April 26, 2013, 5:04 GMT

    Ha ... ha .. why doesnt one Ravi Shastri's name come up here. The most cliched commentator. To be fair to Shastri, the world wide standard on commentary has gone down drastically. Sky is possibly the exception. Channel 9 is biased to the core and will make Ian Chappell like a saint. Hussain, Gower, Any Lloyd, Mike Holding are a whiff of fresh air. Closer home, it is time for the likes of Gavaskar and Shastri to retire. I dont know how they keep calling Sidhu back in.

  • johnathonjosephs on April 26, 2013, 4:55 GMT

    Has anybody ever had times where the commentator's power gets cut off and for whatever reason we just see the players and the noise on the stadium? The stadium noise just overtakes everything and that is all you hear. The stadium noise is also a constant noise that does not die down or rise up unless a boundary or wicket has occurred. Its the weirdest thing in the world. I would be more down for this idea if every single player on the ground, including the umpire, had a microphone so that we could hear every single thing that goes on the ground. That would be a lot more ideal and we'd see into the minds of cricket players. Of course, it would probably require a "viewer discretion" label due to the many obscenities shouted

  • blade_pakkiri on April 26, 2013, 4:55 GMT

    To use the Ravi Shastri cliche: "In the end, the game of cricket is the winner"

  • stalefresh on April 26, 2013, 4:40 GMT

    Ironically the viewers at stadiums in the subcontinent deal with the harshest of conditions, and the viewers on TV deal with some pretty ordinary commentary at times. It is a loose loose for the viewers on multiple accounts to watch cricket.

    The commentary should be filler and not the main noise on the TV. Viewers know when it is a great shot or a great bowl, and believe it or not they also know situation of the match.

    Good commentators tell a story or at least generate a relevant context for each situation without spelling out the cliche'.

  • on April 26, 2013, 4:38 GMT

    I still believe the World Series cricket coverage during the mid eighties was the best. Interns of picture, sound and commentory. The sound of bat hitting the ball, the ball hitting the stumps , the sound of the bowlers follow through. Gosh!!! Truest vintage stuff. Compare the visuals of today's matches with these, we can really see the difference.

  • on April 26, 2013, 4:20 GMT

    In the age of internet 2.0, having personal commentary does not sound very far fetched.

  • caught_knott_bowled_old on April 26, 2013, 4:07 GMT

    @Kabir Vo...you sir, have spoken my mind! Thank You! @Harsha Bhogle...Borrowing from the Bard 'Brevity is the soul of good commentary'.

  • shwet14 on April 26, 2013, 4:00 GMT

    I feel the viewrs most like those comentators who try and share the logic behind a fielding change , a bowling change... who tries to be in the fielding captain's shoes and think loudly as if he is the decision maker. Having ex test cricketors in commentary box should be allowed for this purpose, not just because he is good with english or was a great cricketer. I cannot even begin to understand how someone like a Kapil Dev qualifies to be a commentator. His articulation is horrible and like many others of his ilk , he only describes what he sees like millions like me can also see. I find someone like a Majrekar or a Jadeja much better in this aspect. Even SMG has become a typecast. I am sick of hearing him say ' its a full toss all right, but it has to be put away. " Someone like Danny Morrison is fit for a WWF ring , and not a cricket ground. Someone like Ian Chappel sometimes over analyses. Yes, we as viewers do need an option to choose from a group of individuals.

  • Gizza on April 26, 2013, 3:59 GMT

    When the commentary standard is poor, a no commentary option would be preferable to just pressing mute if you still want to hear the crowd and the wicketkeeper/other close fielders through the stump microphone.

  • Aashiq.kb on April 26, 2013, 3:34 GMT

    Thanks a TON for bringing up this topic, Harsha. Yes! Having a no commentary option seems good, especially when you have boring commentators like Laxman, Sourav, Majrekar, Akram, Jayasuria etc on board. But my suggestion would be to have an option for choosing the commentators of your preference or like what Jarrod Kimber has said- "to have the option to choose the commentary team". That would definitely set the standards right... Next time when we tour Australia I want to listen to the channel 9 team instead of Sourav, Manjrekar, Gavaskar & Laxman.

  • KerneelsMerkII on April 26, 2013, 3:21 GMT

    I cannot agree more. It seems that Harsh's story of the comentator not caring whether what he said is true has washed over to television: if I have to listen to another commentator saying "not much wrong with that ball" just after a long hop got smashed to the fence or complimenting a wide half volly as a good ball just because the batsmen missed it... I think I may also be a cricket nerd like Jarrord and I prefer my commentry to be slighly more sedate an a lot more accurate.

  • on April 26, 2013, 3:18 GMT

    Give viewers the no-commentary option, screams the headline to this article. Hugely ironic, isn't it, coming from Harsha Bhogle, just as much is his likening Danny Morrison's style to Formula 1? The man, who was like a breath of fresh air when he first started, and a pleasure to listen to on radio, is, well, pretty much insufferable today. Nothing has me hitting Mute on the remote faster than his turn at the microphone. Oh, okay, I guess Sidhu beats him to No 1 but, yeah, he's just a step behind.

    What Bhogle doesn't seems to realise, or may have forgotten, is that he's not on radio any more! We don't need him to keep talking for every little second he's on air. His annoying analogies are only slightly more sophisticated than those Sidhu comes up with. He's a smart and, I'm sure, likable person and I really wish he'd learn something from the other man he quoted, Richie Benaud. For god's sake, and our, please talk less!

  • WalkingWicket11 on April 26, 2013, 3:18 GMT

    It is great to see this article coming from a commentator. Cricket fans have been pleading for this option ever since Shastri, Sidhu, Srikanth, Rameez, etc. started commentating.

    Similar to the way DND (Do Not Disturb) works in Indian telecom, there should also be an option to block specific commentators. Now with Indian TV going through digitization, it might become possible to log how many viewers blocked a specific commentator. The broadcaster could use that information to retain only the best commentators.

  • Rajnal on April 26, 2013, 3:10 GMT

    Nice to read Harsha, having said that why worry when we have mute option ! Having said that indeed some of the commentators are pathetic, we are bombarded with words like "Form" , "Fantastic Shot" , "Great Willow" , "Excellent Bats". Every time a batsman hits a boundary, we are done, the regular typical flow of words keep bursting our ears. I wonder , will good cooking stove make any great cooks ?

    So many typical mannerisms, Like Harsha so often uses "aswell", Ravi Shastry always has a "feeling", and his post match presentation is like watching a swinging ball, he keeps swinging on both legs.

  • elvis_ on April 26, 2013, 2:57 GMT

    I find this article amusing because I turn down the volume down on the Channel Nine TV commentary and just watch the pictures. I listen to the ABC radio broadcast at the same time and Harsha is a frequent guest and his insightful and humourous commentary is definitely one of the reasons I do this.

    Keep up the good work Harsha!

  • Robster1 on April 26, 2013, 2:49 GMT

    What a good idea - why the TV commentator needs to talk incessantly is a mystery to many.

  • Robster1 on April 26, 2013, 2:49 GMT

    What a good idea - why the TV commentator needs to talk incessantly is a mystery to many.

  • elvis_ on April 26, 2013, 2:57 GMT

    I find this article amusing because I turn down the volume down on the Channel Nine TV commentary and just watch the pictures. I listen to the ABC radio broadcast at the same time and Harsha is a frequent guest and his insightful and humourous commentary is definitely one of the reasons I do this.

    Keep up the good work Harsha!

  • Rajnal on April 26, 2013, 3:10 GMT

    Nice to read Harsha, having said that why worry when we have mute option ! Having said that indeed some of the commentators are pathetic, we are bombarded with words like "Form" , "Fantastic Shot" , "Great Willow" , "Excellent Bats". Every time a batsman hits a boundary, we are done, the regular typical flow of words keep bursting our ears. I wonder , will good cooking stove make any great cooks ?

    So many typical mannerisms, Like Harsha so often uses "aswell", Ravi Shastry always has a "feeling", and his post match presentation is like watching a swinging ball, he keeps swinging on both legs.

  • WalkingWicket11 on April 26, 2013, 3:18 GMT

    It is great to see this article coming from a commentator. Cricket fans have been pleading for this option ever since Shastri, Sidhu, Srikanth, Rameez, etc. started commentating.

    Similar to the way DND (Do Not Disturb) works in Indian telecom, there should also be an option to block specific commentators. Now with Indian TV going through digitization, it might become possible to log how many viewers blocked a specific commentator. The broadcaster could use that information to retain only the best commentators.

  • on April 26, 2013, 3:18 GMT

    Give viewers the no-commentary option, screams the headline to this article. Hugely ironic, isn't it, coming from Harsha Bhogle, just as much is his likening Danny Morrison's style to Formula 1? The man, who was like a breath of fresh air when he first started, and a pleasure to listen to on radio, is, well, pretty much insufferable today. Nothing has me hitting Mute on the remote faster than his turn at the microphone. Oh, okay, I guess Sidhu beats him to No 1 but, yeah, he's just a step behind.

    What Bhogle doesn't seems to realise, or may have forgotten, is that he's not on radio any more! We don't need him to keep talking for every little second he's on air. His annoying analogies are only slightly more sophisticated than those Sidhu comes up with. He's a smart and, I'm sure, likable person and I really wish he'd learn something from the other man he quoted, Richie Benaud. For god's sake, and our, please talk less!

  • KerneelsMerkII on April 26, 2013, 3:21 GMT

    I cannot agree more. It seems that Harsh's story of the comentator not caring whether what he said is true has washed over to television: if I have to listen to another commentator saying "not much wrong with that ball" just after a long hop got smashed to the fence or complimenting a wide half volly as a good ball just because the batsmen missed it... I think I may also be a cricket nerd like Jarrord and I prefer my commentry to be slighly more sedate an a lot more accurate.

  • Aashiq.kb on April 26, 2013, 3:34 GMT

    Thanks a TON for bringing up this topic, Harsha. Yes! Having a no commentary option seems good, especially when you have boring commentators like Laxman, Sourav, Majrekar, Akram, Jayasuria etc on board. But my suggestion would be to have an option for choosing the commentators of your preference or like what Jarrod Kimber has said- "to have the option to choose the commentary team". That would definitely set the standards right... Next time when we tour Australia I want to listen to the channel 9 team instead of Sourav, Manjrekar, Gavaskar & Laxman.

  • Gizza on April 26, 2013, 3:59 GMT

    When the commentary standard is poor, a no commentary option would be preferable to just pressing mute if you still want to hear the crowd and the wicketkeeper/other close fielders through the stump microphone.

  • shwet14 on April 26, 2013, 4:00 GMT

    I feel the viewrs most like those comentators who try and share the logic behind a fielding change , a bowling change... who tries to be in the fielding captain's shoes and think loudly as if he is the decision maker. Having ex test cricketors in commentary box should be allowed for this purpose, not just because he is good with english or was a great cricketer. I cannot even begin to understand how someone like a Kapil Dev qualifies to be a commentator. His articulation is horrible and like many others of his ilk , he only describes what he sees like millions like me can also see. I find someone like a Majrekar or a Jadeja much better in this aspect. Even SMG has become a typecast. I am sick of hearing him say ' its a full toss all right, but it has to be put away. " Someone like Danny Morrison is fit for a WWF ring , and not a cricket ground. Someone like Ian Chappel sometimes over analyses. Yes, we as viewers do need an option to choose from a group of individuals.

  • caught_knott_bowled_old on April 26, 2013, 4:07 GMT

    @Kabir Vo...you sir, have spoken my mind! Thank You! @Harsha Bhogle...Borrowing from the Bard 'Brevity is the soul of good commentary'.