Channel Nine’s commentary team: a final report card
Bald Archy entry 'Simply Marvellous' a portrait of cricket commentator Richie Benaud by James Brennan. AAP Image/Dean Lewins
After a long, hot, absorbing, alternatively entertaining and frustrating summer it’s time to round off the season by running a critical eye over the state of the Australian cricket team.
But seeing as they’re already kicking back with a couple of mojitos in the Port of Spain, let us instead turn our analytical attention to the current free-to-air television commentary team.
For a long time, Nine’s commentary team has been like an old pair of jeans – a comfy fit for all.
Times change, however, and you wouldn’t catch any of the hip young David Warner Twenty20 era types wearing these jeans out to your downtown vodka bar.
Granted, cricket has a difficult job as it is required to appeal to a wide demographic; however Nine’s commentators have achieved this with varying degrees of success this past season. So people, let’s get constructively critical!
Mark Nicholas: C+
He tries hard, he really does. However an easy-to-listen-to English accent might be great if you’re hosting a midday TV show about antique clocks, but it can’t always cover for a lack of real in-depth analysis into what’s going on at the cricket. Still, my Nan thinks he’s a lovely fellow.
Bill Lawry: B+
An excitable chap. Whilst Lawry can be easily sidetracked and baited into a Victoria versus the world debate his enthusiasm for even the most mildly entertaining of occurrences is thoroughly infectious. Long live Lawry!
Ian Healy: C
A good man, Heals, but at times he comes across about as interesting as his nickname. Can make some good observations with regards to wicket keeping (and has probably moved above Brad Haddin in the pecking order) but his jokey banter with fellow snooze-fest Mark Taylor becomes grating quicker than a Chris Gayle 50. You’re both old, tired and bad at golf; we got the joke the first hundred times.
Mark Taylor: D+
Groan. Tubs, tubs, tubs. You’re commentating a cricket match, not narrating an air-conditioning commercial. Has precisely one vocal octave and throws down clichés like Jeff Thompson used to throw down bouncers. However can you sack an Australian captain (not to mention an Australian of the year)?
Michael Slater: B
Slats – who would have thought? Mr Bon Jovi and Ferraris seems completely at home amongst the established crew and his easy-going persona has seen him be snapped up by other sports programs. A definite dark horse for team captain duties in the years to come, provided he can keep his wild side at bay.
Shane Warne: N/A
Too busy driving Lamborghinis, seducing actresses and playing Twenty20 to drop by the commentary booth in 2011/12.
Tony Greig: B-
Actually retired ten years ago but, in an idea taken from the movie Speed, they’ve grabbed an audio tape of his commentary from the mid ’90s and popped it on continuous loop. Still, try not to be amused when he says “Right off the meat of the bat” or starts bickering with Bill Lawry. Unintentional comedy gold.
Ian Chappell: D
You’re having a good time at a family BBQ, having a couple of laughs and playing some backyard cricket when grumpy old Uncle Ian shows up. Suddenly he’s calling no-balls, criticising your five year-old’s batting stance and moaning about the state of world cricket in general. This is only interrupted by the occasional laborious, unfunny story you hear every year. This, quite frankly, is how I feel when Ian Chappell takes over the commentary. Bitter, narky and dull as Dapto.
Tom Moody: B
People have always underestimated Moody, from his test debut, to his unexpected numerous World Cup appearances, to his haggis throwing ability. The same goes for his commentary skills, which during the one day series was candid, honest and, most importantly, interesting. Well played big man.
Richie Benaud: A+
Sure his appearances are getting briefer each year and bordering on Meta at times, but the doyen of the sports commentary team still puts blokes half his age to shame with his cricketing nous and dry, lightning fast wit. Anything less than a perfect score would have me tarred and feathered as downright un-Australian.
James Brayshaw: F
No sir, I don’t like it. Does Brayshaw just hang around outside the commentary booth bailing up Ritchie and Bill when they go out to grab a plate of samosas with a “C’mon guys, give us a go give us a go, etc.” until they relent and let him have a go behind the mic? Captain of the obvious and Brigadier of the banal Brayshaw is the anti-Benaud and would be best served emceeing local underage netball carnivals in country Victoria somewhere.
Whilst the team is capable of achieving highly it is let down at times by certain members and is capable of far greater outcomes.
But hey, what would I know right? I’m sure there are tons of punters out there who would disagree with me and I look forward to hearing your assessment of Nine‘s commentary team.
All except you, Mr Brayshaw. I think you’ve said quite enough for now.
Chris Chard is a sports humour writer commenting on the often absurd nature of professional sport. A rugby league fan boy with a good blend of youth and experience taking things one week at a time, Chris has written for The Roar since 2011. Tweet him @Vic_Arious
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