Monday, November 2, 2009

The purpose of commentary

I don't seem to understand it at all. Isn't it supposed to inform, entertain, provide expertise, and show insider knowledge?

Well, if Shastri keeps using the same stock phrases, and Mr. Gavaskar seems bored most of the time, Bhogle speaks first and regrets later, Yardley keeps talking of "bowling in the right areas", and Nicholas only fawns up- I could go on here- but I just think they should all shut up. And rethink how commentary should be in today's viewing age.

Cricket viewers have, I believe, become most sophisticated in recent years- and I don't think having experts mouthing well -parotted phrases helps anymore. I know Benaud has his critics, but one thing that he did say was to add value to the screen or shut up.

We may perhaps need a complete rehaul- I have a few suggestions but I'd like to hear from you guys first on how commentary can be improved. Any takers?


  1. Good point.

    An average viewer has so much artificial/technological aid available at his disposal, one wonders is there even a need for these hamming yappers to describe what the camera just showed him from 4 different angles in super-slow motion.

    With matches coming equipped with 12 in-stadium cameras, massive hi-def LCD stadium screens, multi-angle instant replays, snick-o-meters, stump vision, hawk eye analysis, Dopplers, ball-by-ball in detail feeds to the internet; the commentator is like an additional layer of unnecessary butter on top of an already obscenely obese recipe.

    There are some really good commentators out there, who still have freshness, novelty, even real turf experience that seeps through their wisdom on the mic. But, really, there is no added value to them no matter how good a commentator may be, since he is reduced to merely presenting what is already evident. The only real function a 'commentator' seems to have is to do pre-game presentations and post-game felicitations.

    I am curious to know though, if Radio commentators still exist, or has the breed expired already.

  2. I'm not a cricket fan but whenever I watch the commentators on tv, all that comes across to me as an observer is that" THEY JUST TALK TOO MUCH! Are cricket lovers so dumb that they need to be explained everything? The reason why radio commentators used to talk was because one couldnt see the match then. Today you can..Then why dont people just shut up and watch?

  3. @sleeping ninja: love the butter analogy. Are you saying no commentary at all? I'm going to try muting the damn button next time round
    @meghana: imagine the irritation for a fan then!

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  8. Don't mute the TV, man! You still need to hear the noise and uproar coming from the spectators. Cricket is a team game to play and a group game to watch. You need someone to shout with you, slap backs, thump chests with and give high-5's to while watching it. 'Noise' is absolutely essential, but minus the cacophony of a modern day commentator !

    Now if there was some technology that filtered out the spectators from the commentators, then that'd be something I'll buy :)

    (And with that I think I have finally managed to post without transmission errors).

  9. We stand at a point where an umpire and a commentator can easily be made redundant (the two roles which were as integral to a game as a player, until just a few years ago).

    It is not far fetched to imagine that a set of cameras and computers can replace an umpire. It has been proven that the camera makes a better umpire on several occasions. The ease and extent of information available to a viewer - whether he has a TV or a cell phone or a laptop, already makes a specialist commentator an ornament. How the removal of an umpire and a commentator will affect the flavour of the game is an argument for the romantic.

    For all those who are bored with commentators and their mundane, biased and cliched opinionating, how about involving players themselves in the process of presenting a match in progress ? The two captains, the bowler and the 2 batsmen could be planted with one-way microphones and a spectator will know on live feed what the 5 people most involved in a match are thinking at any given instance. Think of the glorious mixing bowl of proposed actions, counter reactions, strategies and thoughts that will be available to the viewer straight from the players themselves. It would be viewer involvement at an entirely new level; getting 5 live and authentic representations of the game directly from the ones involved. May sound fantastic and over the top. But 20 years ago I would not have imagined third umpires, Doppler guns, hawk eye trajectory analysis and infrared hot-spot meters would ever get involved in cricket, and become integral part of it.

  10. your ideas sound fantastic- about umpiring as well. Will present some of mine in a new post soon.