The Predicament of Indian Cricket Commentary

This is a post from the past (August, 2016)

Not many Indian commentators have been mainstays in the commentary box like Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri. But times have changed. If reports are to be believed, Sunil Gavaskar’s inclusion in the commentary team looks bleak for the New Zealand series at home. Ravi Shastri, after the recent developments in failing to become the Indian coach is likely to return to the commentary box. Harsha Bhogle’s exile is altogether a different story. Outrage of fans over that decision hasn’t changed the situation much.

So, for the home series this September, Sanjay Manjrekar and Aakash Chopra are the likely choices. They have been regulars in the commentary team from the past couple of years. A good host doesn’t necessarily become a good commentator. Such is the case with Sanjay Manjrekar. His bias for India is quite evident and he tries too hard in making a point. In another case, a good writer doesn’t necessarily become a good commentator. Aakash Chopra understands the game well and we can find that in his writings, but listen to his commentary and you will doubt if he’s the same person. Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan had brief stints as commentators. Having played the game at the highest level, both of them bring their experience and perspective which makes for a valuable addition to the commentary team. Sehwag’s unmatched wit in addition is a delight to every Indian fan. But things aren’t particularly exciting in this area for an Indian fan. India isn’t lacking in big names but it’s in desperate need of a good old-fashioned commentator.

But things are a little different Down Under. Australia’s Channel 9 team boasts of quality commentators. Though they stand out individually, when commentating together they tend to fall into a frivolous zone. Mark Taylor and Mark Nicholas are the exceptions in this case. Mark Nicholas is an articulate writer and a good commentator too. England’s commentary team is by far the best in the world. Ian Botham, David Gower, David Lloyd still at the helm, their team brings both fun and depth to the game. Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain bring that straightforwardness with style to their commentary. West Indian commentators Michael Holding and Ian Bishop offer valuable insights of the game.

Harsha Bhogle mentioned in an article “Of the newer set of broadcasters only Michael Atherton and Ian Bishop really retain that frugality that was the essence of Richie.” Richie Benaud is the greatest commentator the game has ever seen. His skill as a commentator is transcendent. Some of his golden rules are “Put your brain into gear and if you can add to what’s on the screen then do it, otherwise shut up.” and the most important one “Remember the value of a pause.” If at all, the present generation commentators’ stride for the standards set by the golden generation commentators every cricket fan will be in for a treat. Especially an Indian fan is looking for a savior in the commentary department. As long as the tracer bullets take the aerial route, I just get the feeling that we will forever be in a pressure cooker situation.