Under the sun

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Staying with cricket, let's talk a little about commentators. In the days when watching cricket happening outside India on TV meant waking up early to see and hear Kapil Dev disturb Keppler Wessel's (he was playing for Australia then) stumps. White ball, color clothing, stump microphones, Nivea lip-guard and cameras at both ends of the stadium at a time when even BBC had a camera only at one end - That was Channel 9. Being too young to comprehend the finer details of commentary, a typical "In the air!.... and dropped!" (from this, i coined the term 'bowled in the air' and made it popular in my street) from Tony Greig was enough to excite our yound minds. Richie Benaud saying "Gavashkaar" added more respect to the already respected name.
When it comes to the present, watching cricket on TV can often be a drudgery interrupted by some spells of good cricket and insightful comments from good commentators, who are a breed getting lost in the numbers. Even Mandira Bedi's boob-show cannot stop this drudgery unless the action on the field and the box make it possible for us to live through all the anal-yses and ad-breaks.

Coming to my favorite commentators, Richie Benaud and Ian Chappel are the evergreen gods. If Benaud is economy of expression and brevity personified, Chappel is intelligent, informative and insightful. They don't bore us with a second-by-second description of the action on the field. Nor do they suffer from talking disease - I like Harsha Boghle as a commentator and as a columnist but he runs in verbose mode all the time. When Benaud says "Now, that...... ishh a shtraight droive!" [Sachin hitting Warne straight down the ground for 4 at Sharjah, 1998], he says it all. 6 words. Superb!
Ian Chappel was the ultimate when it came to going beyond the obvious in any cricketing situation. He would invariably start his sentence in such occassions with "Not only has the batsman succeeded in ........". He always found two outcomes for a given action. And praise, when it comes from Chappel (or Benaud, for that matter), is really very well deserved.
1998, India vs Australia at Chepauk - 2nd innings. I was watching the match in the M.A.C. Rahul Dravid was struggling against Warne and the pitch was doing all kinds of things. When Sachin came in, the match was poised on a needle. I was too tense to even cheer 'singam' properly. That phase of the match was unbelievably intriguing. Later, at home when i was watching the highlights, it was Chappel in the box during that period and he was spot-on in his assesment of the situation. It's a pity that he is not in the 'experts' panel in the World Cup and infact, i don't think he's even part of the commentary team.

For sheer entertainment value, none can be better than our Bill Lawry. "It's all happening here at the Gabba!", "Dear oh dear! Can you believe it??" - can't have enough of 'em. I wish to get a DVD of the Australia-South Africa '99 WC semi-final, just for Bill Lawry's commentary. Tony Grieg is dumb but provides good entertainment value. As Selvakumar writes in the comments of the previous post, "It is hard to forget the kind of intro he gives for every player. Be it a player from a Kenyan team or a Dutch team".

Apart from these behemoths, the 'box' has also benefited from the likes of Harsha, Michael Holding, Ravi Shastri, Boycott and Barry Richards (if you can excuse the annoying accent).

P.S: Have Srikkanth and Sivaramakrishnan been eliminated by a one-man terrorist squad - Amir Sohail?



  • Srikkanth is very funny in his post-match analysis. I turn quite sad when people don't notice it.

    You got to watch him in CNN-IBN, the fellow who hosts the show, Gaurav, asks for his insight or comments on a barrage of aspects of the match and our Chika goes nonstop. One can literally see he has no sense of what he's saying. He goes by the one-match-at-a-time policy and makes sweeping statements based on that day's performance.

    So, one day, he'll say, "The current Indian bowling attack is one of the strongest ever!" and the next day, he'll come back to say, "India's bowling is its main weak point, there are no genuine fast bowlers!" or something to that effect, and invariably hark back to the 1983 team.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Mar 15, 04:20:00 PM  

  • Bala,
    Richie's commentary during Kapil's 4 sixes was a classic :)

    By Anonymous ttm, at Thu Mar 15, 06:14:00 PM  

  • Zero,
    "He goes by the one-match-at-a-time policy and makes sweeping statements based on that day's performance."
    Bang on! The worst part is he exemplifies the 'Madrasi' stereotype for our Nothern brethren...

    ttm - The Archivist!
    Thanks for the link again :)

    By Blogger Bala (Karthik), at Thu Mar 15, 11:14:00 PM  

  • Bala,
    :( Too bad, that you too have become a victim of "Generation Gap" ! :(

    Come on ! who is that RB or IB !! when we have MB !! (Mandira Bedi) :-))

    How long you are going to stay away from
    - commentators giving information on how Sehwag's mom cooks and what are her favorite recipes

    - Giving you no time to figure out which "BALL" this wonderful commentator is talking about


    - Giving you lot of information on Various "SHOTS" if not limited to cricket shots alone. Can Richie give this effect ? :-))

    - Giving you mesmerizing visuals in the middle there by giving u a neat entertainment :-)) Can IB do that ?

    and who cares about the WHITE BALL jumping in the ground when we have "others" in the television sets esp when u are watching India-Pak WC match !

    You miss all these things and how dare you can miss this greatest commentator in the history of cricket :-))

    Akila Ulaga Internet Mandira Bedi Iyakkam saarbaaga unga blog hijack seiya padum (Idu thodarnthaaL) :-))

    On a serious note:

    Cricket commentary too had gone the MASALA way like tamil films :)

    I am waiting for the day where MB is outrun by Bollywood BOmbshells. Just imagine MALLIKA doing the same :-))

    By Anonymous selvakumar, at Fri Mar 16, 10:05:00 AM  

  • Selva,
    adhula paarunga.... :))

    Mandira Bedi and Mallika Sherawat pitch report kudutha eppadi irukkum!!!!!!!!

    By Blogger Bala (Karthik), at Fri Mar 16, 11:21:00 AM  

  • ESPN used to have this cricket program clip which would show a piece with Bill Lawry saying
    "Ho Ho Ho..what a ripper".....
    I used wait eagerly just for that particular piece. Amazing accent....But the god of accents is Mike Holding..my favourite..

    Bala, worst commentator in the world will be a hard fought battle between Amir Sohail, Mohinder Amarnath, Saba Karim and Bob Willis....My choice would be Bob Willis....per ezhuthum pothe thookam varuthu....

    By Blogger mutRupuLLi, at Fri Mar 16, 12:56:00 PM  

  • //
    Mandira Bedi and Mallika Sherawat pitch report kudutha eppadi irukkum!!!!!!!!

    LOL :-))
    ellarum match / toss etc ithellam vittuttu Pitch Report mattum paarpaanga :-))

    This just reminds me one news:
    In an european country, one Television channel introduced male and female models for weather reports. This was mainly to people take notice of the weather reports seriously ! It did happen since the channel made a revolution: All the models appeared nude and they were reading the weather reports.

    Soon we can expect such WEATHER & PITCH Report !! :-))

    By Anonymous selvakumar, at Fri Mar 16, 02:46:00 PM  

  • MSP,
    dead right about Bob Willis!! Even as a player he never smiled after each of his 325 wickets. The funniest thing was him saying once, "With that single, Ramprakash races to 11 off 65 balls"!

    Still, the one I liked was Willis' commentary when Thalai made 140* off 104 balls vs Kenya in 1999 WC after returning from funeral, pugazho pugal on that day.

    By Anonymous ttm, at Fri Mar 16, 10:18:00 PM  

  • Sridhar,Yes!
    It shud be
    "Ho ho ho.. it's a rippa!"

    You should include "Star Trek" David Loyd in the list...

    Selva, i dread to "Monica" of Sun TV fame in that avatar!

    That was Sridhar(mutrupuLLi). MSP is absconding!
    Was that 11 off 65 'comment' true??
    Actually Mark Nicholas was (also) on air when Thala reached his 100... He wasn't bad at all...

    By Blogger Bala (Karthik), at Fri Mar 16, 11:13:00 PM  

  • I thought msp = mutrupulli!?! :S

    Its from test 2 or 3 in '98 series - incidentally Ramps improved his strike rate to 28 in that series. Can be a great successor to Willis I guess :)

    By Blogger The Talkative Man, at Sat Mar 17, 07:14:00 AM  

  • Mosquitoes in the commentary box:

    Iftikhar Ahmed
    4 runs to Inzamam, 4 runs to Pakistan(perusa kandupidichutaaru!!!)
    cuts it off
    up in the air(shouted in one breath like 'ilangaioliparappukootathaabanam') cleverly ended with 'but safe' or 'and he's gone'

    Against the run of play 'team' losing another wicket(when a wicket falls)
    The reason he's come to bat is because of this: 'hshows the replay'

    Narottam Puri doing Hindi commentary:
    -Literal translation of English sentences. For a diversion, not even that - e.g, angrezi mein kehte hain milking-the-bowling

    Tony Greig
    -Nonstop assault with Passive Voice: into the fence she goes, in comes the throw, up she goes...

    All Hindi coms about every well-settled batsman:
    ab gend football ki tarah dikhrahi hai

    Bill Lawry, an entire chapter due..my favorite is 'Panic in the Pakistan camp!' :)

    By Blogger The Talkative Man, at Sat Mar 17, 07:36:00 AM  

  • ttm,
    LOL :))

    "Iftikhar Ahmed
    4 runs to Inzamam, 4 runs to Pakistan"

    Infact, i think the only phrase he uses in commentary is "Four Runs...."
    apart from "Drinks, coming in this over..."

    By Blogger Bala (Karthik), at Sat Mar 17, 10:38:00 PM  

  • Nothing would come close to our own hindi commentators sitting back home in the studio, watching the same telecast as us not knowing whether the ball is actually going to the boundary or just a single ...

    By Blogger Bhuvanesh, at Wed Mar 28, 05:47:00 PM  

  • bhuvanesh,
    "tappa khane ke baadh gaindh oonchi uti" I love vernacular commentary!

    By Blogger Bala (Karthik), at Wed Mar 28, 09:07:00 PM  

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