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Sue de Groot

What do you call a bunch of IPL commentators?

A clutch? A ramble? Or a corporate congregation? And, are the team uniforms like a rainbow on acid or a Neapolitan ice cream with multiple-personality disorder?

Sue de Groot

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Adam Gilchrist congratulates Andrew Symonds the bowler, Deccan Chargers v Delhi Daredevils, IPL, Cuttack, March 21, 2010
Andrew Symonds' team-mates are surprised no one's thought of tattooing logos onto his bare skull yet © Indian Premier League
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Series/Tournaments: Indian Premier League

So I was going to write about the IPL uniforms, but the uniform garishness of the teams' apparel left me at a loss for words.

Insert speechless pause here.

I mean really, how do you describe a Neapolitan ice cream with multiple-personality disorder, a rainbow on acid, a fatal collision between a crayon box and a truck full of corporate logos? And what are those flesh-coloured arm bandages that stick out below the shirtsleeves? And why are sports uniforms called strips, when they're clearly meant to cover things up and blind us to any deficiencies that may lie beneath?

As you can tell, I was speechless.

The IPL does have its compensations - like watching AB de Villiers grow wings - but mostly it hurts my eyes. So I put my head back and listened to the commentary with my eyes closed, and this, I have to tell you, is an unparalleled joy. Particularly listening to the gifted Mike Haysman, who some cricket writers seem to think is South African. He isn't. He's Australian. The accents are entirely different, people. Learn to listen.

Besides Haysman, the IPL has snared a clutch of sterling commentators, like Brad Hogg, Dominic Cork and Ravi Shastri, who really should be a guitarist that gave birth to a Grammy-award-winning daughter.

Hang on, I just said clutch... no one wants to clutch a commentator, unless Simon Taufel takes up commentary. What is the collective noun for commentators, anyway?

In my extreme youth, when we in South Africa were exposed to the honeyed perambulations of Charles Fortune, I'd have said it was a ramble of commentators. Fortune spoke about the sky a lot, and the birds, and the trees, and sometimes a little about the cricket, and he did it all beautifully. I don't know if he had a daughter. If he did, and if she were unmarried, she'd be called Miss Fortune, but I'm sure she'd be proud of her dad and he'd fit into the IPL digression of commentators - collusion? condensation? conflation? - perfectly, although I don't know if the inestimable Mr Fortune would take kindly to the new cricketing terms that this phantasmagorical league has created.

First of all there's the six, now referred to as "the DLF maximum". How Charles would cringe. The IPL commentators probably do too, when they're forced to follow corporate scripts containing words like "Citi", "Oracle" and "Karbonn Kamaal" (easy to drop that one into commentary, when a bowler is failing to get over the second hump, exactly as his predecessor did).

Every sport gets commercialised. It's the nature of the games. I wouldn't be surprised if other companies caught on to this lucrative marketing stream. Soon we may have the Woolworths Duck ("We can guarantee its freshness, because it spends very little time exercising, so it remains fat and juicy, and it has a really fine leg"); and the Volkswagen Golf, when beleaguered batsmen take a huge swing at a wide ball; and maybe the Lloyd's Run-Out…

The IPL feature closest to my heart, however, is the trumpet. According to those who have actually been in the box where the trumpet is played, it only blares when the person with the authority to push buttons goes ahead and uses his authority, and pushes a button on a turntable. Okay, so maybe it's not exactly a turntable, more like an electronic piece of equipment that makes a noise, whatever such instruments are called this week.

I can't help comparing this artificially manufactured enthusiasm generator to the vuvuzela, an authentic plastic trumpet (one of several million, or at least several hundreds of thousands, of authentic plastic trumpets) that will be wielded and blown by South Africans during the upcoming FIFA World Cup. The deafening sound of the vuvuzela is probably the only advantage the home team will have, although it pains me to say it.

Not that I'm interested in football. Personally, I'd rather keep my eyes shut as a cricketer dressed in Gandalf-sponsored strip hits another DLF Maximum, and the commentator tells us how clever he is to have chosen the right bank.

RSS FeedSue de Groot is a Johannesburg-based journalist, columnist and television scriptwriter

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Comments: 32 
Posted by newsathish on (April 1, 2010, 14:17 GMT)

Cricinfo please why don't you make a Poll on cricinfo site about commentators. Please do it ..please do it !! The worst according to me 1. R.Arnold 2. L. Sivaramakrishnan 3. Danny Morrison

Average

1. Ravi Shastri 2. Harsha ( He is in this list coz he lacks technicalities of cricket still ) 3, M Holding 4. Michael Kasprowicz 5.Robin Jackman 6. Pommie Mbangwa 7.Jeremy Coney

Above average and best 1. Ian Bishop (Best in post match presentation. asks worthy questions) 2. Mike Haysman 3. Gavaskar (He should stop promoting MRF BUM and his hyped players eg, Rohit Sharma 5.Robin Jackman 6.Jeremy Coney

All time best of cricket

Richie Benaud Geoffrey Boycott Tony Cozier Mike Haysman Bill Lawry Gavaskar (can be)

Posted by robheinen on (April 1, 2010, 9:29 GMT)

What I'm still curious about in the IPL - when watching it on tv - is what happens in these strategic time-outs. What do the players do? Do the fielders get into a huddle? Do the batsmen go have a leak? And the umpires? Pick their noses? Maybe, instead of having us watch these dumb commercials, it's a better idea to have us watch what happens in these time-outs on the field. { Yeah, yeah, I know. There's alwyas one there... }

Posted by StevoD on (March 31, 2010, 21:31 GMT)

Danny is the worst of the lot, easily. I don't mind over-the-top enthusiasm in this type of game, but he's just so far out there its painful.

Posted by TheOnlyEmperor on (March 31, 2010, 5:19 GMT)

There are 4 parameters to weigh commentators: 1. uplifting / depressing 2. knowledgeable/ignorant. 3. skillful/amateur commentating skills. 4. Likeable/unbearable

I think Harsha is the only one who is uplifting, knowledgeable, likeable and skillful. All others don't even come close to 5/10 on rating. If I have to choose somebody other than Harsha, it would be Ian Bishop. There are a lot of listeners, especially in the subcontinent who somehow think that any English accented commentator is good. If accent is to be used as an evaluation criteria, then one cannot speak much about the intellect of such audiences.

Posted by VipulPatki on (March 31, 2010, 4:44 GMT)

The only time I look forward to listening to the commentary is when Harsha or Danny are on air. I am lucky if both of them are on air at the same time. I wonder how can anybody dislike Harsha's commetary. @ Vrij : Brilliant. Arun Lal suddenly seems much more likeable to me....Bring him on....

Posted by Sitting-on-a-gate on (March 30, 2010, 19:27 GMT)

How about a 'lack', as in a lack of perspective???

(Not an original one - i think it was Neville Chamberlain who used this to describe a grp of politicians, who he said were a 'lack' of principles...)

Posted by cruisecontrol on (March 30, 2010, 18:40 GMT)

"Cackle" is the word you're looking for. Or, perhaps "Cacophony". I come from the time of John Arlott. Although no one in the current crop compares to him, there are still a few acceptable ones & a few with potential. However, I doubt that they are getting the chance. I cannot understand why some others continue despite public disapproval. I have read many readers complain. I did too.

One common complaint in my large network is Laxman Sivaramkrishnan. Anything more unpalatable than his convent-school, state-the-obvious, drone? Why can't IPL get it?! I thought it was a commercial organization. The most obvious problem with Indian (South Asian) commentators is their rigid use of the same 'cricketing' parlance. They don't speak English, not Hinglish, Hindi, Urdu, Sinhalese or whatever else (which are all ok) but just cricketingese. [Ravi Sastri the exception]. The diction is limited and the metaphor non-existent. As for the delivery, it is constipated. Please relieve Laxman S. ;-)

Posted by mamboman on (March 30, 2010, 17:50 GMT)

Articles like this typify the utter lack of substance in 20/20 cricket. Given that there are no tactics or subtleties to the game to discuss, why do commentators need to know anything about cricket anyway? 20/20 is a game for the so-called fans who have cricketing ADD, and articles like this just pander to their drooling uncriticality.

Posted by sachin_a on (March 30, 2010, 17:39 GMT)

It would have to be a gaggle of commentators

Posted by Cybertox on (March 30, 2010, 17:08 GMT)

what's with shasthri's vocals these days.... sometimes he lets out a slight (umph like) moan after finishing a sentence. I only noticed it during this ipl

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Sue de Groot is a Johannesburg-based journalist, columnist and television scriptwriter. Formerly managing editor of men's magazine Directions, features writer for Femina and assistant editor of Cosmopolitan, she is now features editor of Food & Home Entertaining. She wrote the "Wicket Maiden" column for the Wisden Cricketer SA until that magazine's sad demise, and tries to restrict herself to writing about life's six highest pleasures: food, gardening, books, films, cats and cricket.

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Sue de Groot Sue de Groot is a Johannesburg-based journalist, columnist and television scriptwriter. Formerly managing editor of men's magazine Directions, features writer for Femina and assistant editor of Cosmopolitan, she is now features editor of Food & Home Entertaining. She wrote the "Wicket Maiden" column for the Wisden Cricketer SA until that magazine's sad demise, and tries to restrict herself to writing about life's six highest pleasures: food, gardening, books, films, cats and cricket.
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