Wisden Cricketer / Features

TWC Poll

All miked up and nowhere to go

Who are the commentators you want to listen to?

ESPNcricinfo staff

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In 2006, all live cricket in England will be shown on Sky Sports. We want to know who you would like to be in the commentary box next summer by voting for TWC's commentary dream team. You have until after the first Ashes Test at Lord's so both Channel 4 and Sky have had the chance to impress. Click here to submit your commentary dream team.

In the meantime, here is the lowdown on those in the frame.

Paul Allott

Age 48
Current position Sky Sports commentator
Background The fifth Beatle. Same era as Botham, Willis and Gower but without the talent. Bespectacled Lancashire and England seamer. Lancs committee man. Accent Lancastrian.
Style Workmanlike. Always has a tone of slight dissatisfaction.
Catchphrase "And the man of the match is ..."
Not the catchphrase "I'm sick of getting spotted in public."

Mike Atherton

Age 37
Current position Channel 4 commentator
Background England debut just after leaving Cambridge. England captain at 25. Went straight from playing to commentating. Does a bit of racing punditry on the side. TalkSPORT radio in the winter. Also a big-hitting Sunday Telegraph columnist.
Accent Upmarket Mancunian.
Style Less dour than when he was playing but not a bundle of laughs. Canny, authoritative.
Catchphrase "What are the latest odds?"
Not the catchphrase "I love county cricket, me."

Richie Benaud

Age 74
Current position Channel 4 commentator
Background Aussie skipper and leg-spinning superstar. BBC and Channel 9 front man for ages.
Accent Unique. Well, he's from NSW but have you ever heard any other Australian talk like that? Style The doyen. A legend in his own lunch interval. Measured almost to the point of self-parody. Serious with a delicately wry humour.
Catchphrase "Morning everyone"; "Super shot that."
Not the catchphrase "Warne won't be in the wickets today."

Ian Botham

Age 49
Current position Sky Sports commentator
Background England legend. Still casts a huge shadow over the game. According to Gower, "still unplayable off the field".
Accent Hard to pin down. Short vowels betray his Cheshire birthplace.
Style Opinionated and tendentious. Turning into Fred Trueman.
Catchphrase "That's beyond me, Bob."
Not the catchphrase "I might have struggled out there today."

Geoffrey Boycott

Age 64
Current position Channel 4 commentator
Background Legendary Yorkshire and England opener. Has commentated for all and sundry: TMS, countless Asian channels, BBC TV. Returned to TV last year after serious illness.
Accent Distinctively and richly West Riding. Second most imitated commentator after Benaud.
Style Unequivocal. Says what he likes and likes what he says.
Catchphrase "That's roobish is that"; "Me granmoother could have caught that."
Not the catchphrase "No fair enough, you might just have a point."

David Gower

Age 48
Current position Sky Sports anchor
Background England's third highest Test run-scorer. Ex-BBC, for whom he has also been lampooned as a team captain on They Think It's All Over. Former Sunday Express cricket correspondent and now has a column for Sunday Times.
Accent Under-statedly well-spoken.
Style Calm and collected, occasionally wry. Referees Hussain v Botham bouts.
Catchphrase "The covers don't look like coming off any time soon."
Not the catchphrase "There's just not enough cricket on telly these days."

Michael Holding

Age 51
Current position Sky Sports commentator
Background Whispering Death. One of the greatest quicks of all time.
Accent Where do you start? His Jamaican tones are deeper than the collected works of Jean-Paul Sartres.
Style Laconic styles belies outspoken opinion. Not a fan of bowlers with dodgy actions or Brian Lara.
Catchphrase "This pitch is full of pace `n' boance."
Not the catchphrase "Fair play to Lara, he's really leading from the front."

Simon Hughes

Age 45
Current position Channel 4's analyst
Background Middlesex and Durham trundler who wrote an excellent book about being an ordinary cricketer (A Lot of Hard Yakka). Writes for the Daily Telegraph.
Accent Home Counties.
Style Superficially relaxed but actually nerdy and intense. Remarkably cheery for a man who spends all day in a van.
Catchphrase "Hawkeye shows us ... "
Not the catchphrase "Computers are beyond me."

Nasser Hussain

Age 37
Current position Sky Sports commentator
Background Enfant terrible turned tough-nut England captain who retired in 2004 with a seat in the Sky box waiting for him. Writes for the Daily Mail and TWC. Accent Thames Estuary. Still having the odd voice-lesson to iron out occasional Essex-isms.
Style Serious, knows inside track, still a bit prone to dressing room cliché.
Catchphrase "Hoggy has put his hand up."
Not the catchphrase "I tell you, Beefy, I used to respect every word you said when I was playing."

David Lloyd

Age 58
Current position Sky Sports commentator
Background Lancashire and England left-hander famous for being hit in the box by Jeff Thomson. First-class umpire before coaching Lancashire and England. Commentated for BBC Test Match Special before Sky. Very funny after-dinner turn.
Accent 100% Accrington ("Starrrrt the carrrr; shorrrrt game's a good game").
Style Eccentric and unremittingly enthusiastic. Schoolboy humour. Talks in soundbites.
Catchphrase "Skyline's in ... "
Not the catchphrase "Zimbabwe played jolly well. They deserved a draw."

Mark Nicholas

Age 47
Current position C4 anchor
Background Posh Hampshire captain nicknamed Jardine. Occasionally mooted as England skipper. Used to work for Sky. Writes for the Daily Telegraph does some radio for TalkSPORT and is carving himself a niche as the new Benaud for Channel 9 in Australia. Has also dipped his toe in reality TV, presenting the late and unlamented Survivor for ITV. Accent Regal.
Style Smoother than Henry Blofeld's smoking jacket.
Catchphrase "Oh, yaaaah"; "Crackerjack shot".
Not the catchphrase "In my experience as a Test batsman ... "

Dermot Reeve

Age 42
Current position Channel 4 commentator
Background Trophy-winning bits and pieces player for Sussex and Warwickshire (as captain). Imran Khan impersonator. Recently Somerset coach.
Accent Posh in a lounge lizard sort of a way.
Style Takes himself - if not always the game - seriously. Louche. Doesn't always turn up on time.
Catchphrase "Do you want to know what I did last night?"
Not the catchphrase "I don't do impressions."

Bob Willis

Age 55
Current position Sky Sports commentator
Background Great England fast bowler, poor England captain. Mad hair and obsessive musical tastes (Bob Dylan and Wagner). Worked for the BBC back in Jim Laker's day.
Accent Southern, articulate with a dash of south London downbeatness. Style Dour, hyper-critical, with a number of slightly bonkers hobby-horses.
Catchphrase "Frankly, Charles, that's just not good enough" while turning to camera.
Not the catchphrase "What a lovely day."

© The Wisden Cricketer

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