The Commentary Woes
By, Quazi Zulquarnain Islam
With all the football mania threatening to carry you away in the crest of a wave, cricket almost seems to have dwindled to the point of oblivion. Not for one “Ise-Man” though, as he writes in expressing an interesting point of view. Bangladesh's defeats against Australia have done little to diminish the spirit of these eager cricket fan. Here is his interesting summary, which deals with the idiosyncrasies of commentators. And all puns are very much intended.
ISE MAN writes:
Flipping channels and you find a cricket match taking place half way across the world or maybe in one of the neighbouring countries. A beautiful billiard-board of a park, thousands of people in the ground and two international teams fighting it out. Perfect, right?
As you know, cricket on television means someone has to describe what is going on out there. Predictably, a few former cricketers,the great and the not so great, are telling how as they see it since they are assumed to be 'good in English.'
Television producers of cricket matches these days are adding a lot of gimmicks to make it look good, but essentially commentary is the part that balances everything.
Former Indian player turned commentator Javagal Srinath actually says it how he sees it, literally: "Oh that's a beautiful cover drive, through the covers."
Back in his playing days, I remember that he once skipped a post-match ceremony in Dhaka because he claimed at the time, 'don't speak English.'
"Ah well, it's too cold for him. Maybe he just wants to get back to the hotel," we thought, being such angels.
This man is just the tip of the iceberg in bad cricket commentary. Gone are the days when poetry was the name of the game. Our fathers and coaches go on about John Arlott and McGiverly, but these days, globalisation of cricket means that everyone is involved. So much so that our very own former captain tried his hand out in the top box.
Let's just assume that he was simply experimenting with this trade. And hope too that he never has to wear the dreaded headphone.
Another former great from Bangladesh is also a regular in commentary. He would start off well, but suddenly he goes, 'umm' or 'ah' and that just ruins it. But this man made me proud after he stood up for us against the reckless and arrogant boss of bad commentators- Aamir Sohail.
This former Pakistani batsman was famous for making a fool out of himself in his playing days. His famous gesture and the ensuing dismissal in a crucial World Cup match back in 1996 is as well documented as is his one over that cost a record 29 runs in Singapore that same year. These days, he gets paid for sounding like a fool. And his accent- maainddbloouwing.
Most Pakistani former stars are biased, except of course Wasim Akram. Ramiz Raja, a former opening partner of Sohail, would rave on and on about his team's chances even if his team's defending 100 runs.
Indian commentators are not lagging behind. Trust me, some of them are just diabolical. Two of them just scream and shout until everyone agrees with them. Some are just wannabe Englishmen and some think that English is part of their mother language, and so they make it sound like Hindi.
Navjot Singh Sidhu, the cricketer-turned-commentator-sacked-and-and-turned-failed politician, would apparently carry a book of proverbs and sayings, just to make it sound interesting. Whenever he came on air, I would make sure either I changed the channel or just muted the TV. Personally, I thought he was disgusting. No wonder ESPN fired him.
Bangladeshi commentators, who cover cricket, football, athletics and even taekwondo (if BTV would cover the event), are amazing to say the least. They would have fits of sudden highs and then in a split of a second dour the mood. Little idea of what is going on out in the middle, they would make sure you are entertained nonetheless.
One former Australian commentator would think he's running a coaching class. Explaining everything with visual aid as well as tell us what to drink during a match.
But one guy sticks to my mind. Back in 2002, I heard this South African commentator who litereally was like one of those latin American football commentators.
He would describe as if he was talking to his scared neighbours or something to that effect.
Decibel level, analytical errors, and general madness are the watch words as far as bad commentary are concerned.
As usual mails are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org