Channel Nine’s cricket commentary team needs an injection of youth

Mick H Roar Rookie

By Mick H, Mick H is a Roar Rookie

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    Even before Ian Chappell has put his wide brim hat down on the desk, I know what his commentary stint will involve, almost word for word.

    “It’s important the batsmen take singles and get down the other end,” and “I just don’t understand these field placings,” as well as the use of the word “bloody” to create controversy. Over the summer of Test matches the commentary team has sounded so stale, I muted the TV and put the radio on.

    I have been listening and watching the Channel Nine cricket coverage for 20-odd years and have enjoyed each summer, getting fantastic insights into the players’ mindsets. This season, however, has been dull. Even the nostalgic voice of Bill Lawry during the Boxing Day Test wasn’t enough to keep me enthused.

    Switching to Triple M’s commentary team when driving or whe I was just too bored with Channel Nine’s offerings, I was immediately impressed. Of course, not everyone was great at providing an insight into the players’ thinking, due to their lack of experience, however, there was some wonderful commentary.

    Isa Guha was a standout during the Test matches; funny, subtle, charming and able to give Merv Hughes and Kerry O’Keefe banter back when needed. The atmosphere in the commentary box was fun, exciting and never took itself too seriously. The opinions of the commentators seemed genuine and free, thought-provoking attitudes were allowed to be explored and discussed.

    The Big Bash juggernaut is still chugging along with families and viewers throughout the summer. A cornerstone of their success is no doubt the commentary team. The team has enthusiasm for the game, adding recently retired players as well as current players, giving fresh ideas into a game that has changed markedly from the days of Chappell, Healy and Tubs.

    Twenty20 cricket wasn’t invented during their playing careers, and surely the Test arena has been influenced by the rise of T20 cricket in some ways.

    The Big Bash commentary box has been light and fun, with enough enthusiasm and realism for the viewers to be entertained but never lied to. If a game is becoming an easy win for a team, they are more than happy to accept that fact and move on.

    Channel Nine funnels energy into ridiculous situations, with statements like “Pakistan could bat two days and make 400, you never know…”

    Please spare us, we’re not stupid. Adam Gilchrist, Damien Fleming, Kevin Pietersen and probably the biggest surprise packet for me, Andrew Symmonds, have all kept me going through the Big Bash tournament, with intelligent conversations about cricket and some anecdotes for entertainment.

    I understand it is hard to compare the Test commentary to the Big Bash due to the nature of the games. However, I believe Channel Nine desperately need to inject some youth into their squad for the summers to come.

    Shane Warne has always seen the game differently, using his great cricketing brain to good use, especially when discussing fielding and spin bowlers. Michael Clarke has been okay, but is inexperienced and a lack of people to bounce off has seen him become a carbon copy of the other Nine commentators.

    Shane Warne

    While I’m at it, is the Channel Nine commentary box an exclusive men’s club? A female voice would be a welcome change.

    Isa Guha and Mel Jones have both proven they can provide wonderful insight into the game and I am sure there would be many more women in the game of cricket who could provide interesting and insightful commentary during our Test matches.

    Commentary is a very personal topic; some commentators on both Triple M and Chanel Nine are hard to listen to and that’s fine. I’m not saying I want all my favourites into the one box.

    I am saying surely, Chanel Nine needs an injection of youth and enthusiasm for next summer. We have seen fantastic examples across various mediums this summer and I haven’t even mentioned the ABC Grandstand commentary team.

    Channel Nine, it is time to inject some youth into the commentary team.

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    The Crowd Says (52)

    • Roar Guru

      January 11th 2017 @ 5:42am
      peeeko said | January 11th 2017 @ 5:42am | ! Report

      i think you are off the mark with your comments that the game has changed remarkably since the days of healy and tubby. i think its easy to criticise 9 and praise 0 but they are commentating on 2 totally different games

      • January 11th 2017 @ 5:09pm
        Mick H said | January 11th 2017 @ 5:09pm | ! Report

        The explosion of T20 cricket, changes to Australian pitches, how teams and individuals are managed throughout the summer and the year, the number of games played have all changed since Tubs and Heals.

    • January 11th 2017 @ 6:24am
      Christo the Daddyo said | January 11th 2017 @ 6:24am | ! Report

      You say you want an injection of youth – what do you think Michael Clarke is?

      • January 11th 2017 @ 6:48am
        qwetzen said | January 11th 2017 @ 6:48am | ! Report

        Someone with a voice well suited to mime.

        • January 11th 2017 @ 12:29pm
          Christo the Daddyo said | January 11th 2017 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

          True. I am astonished that the Nine hierarchy thought Clarke’s voice was appropriate for commentary…

      • January 11th 2017 @ 5:10pm
        Mick H said | January 11th 2017 @ 5:10pm | ! Report

        An attempt, which has failed. Purely based on the social media pipes, Michael Clarke has not been well received by the public.

    • January 11th 2017 @ 6:36am
      twodogs said | January 11th 2017 @ 6:36am | ! Report

      Nine needs a woman. There’s one I’ve been listening to lately – Isa Guha (? ) Geez, not bad on the ears. She knows her stuff and delivers the right amount of information required, then shuts up. Get her in Ch9, some of these overbearing toadstools presently need a bit of womanly intimidation to quell their egos. See the bigbash? Mel was so good they had to get rid of her. Now the boys seem a little more comfortable and, er, ‘confident’.

      • January 11th 2017 @ 8:28am
        Chris said | January 11th 2017 @ 8:28am | ! Report

        Dont hold your breath hoping Ch 9 will allow a woman on board.
        Talk about being stuck in some time warp.

      • January 11th 2017 @ 12:56pm
        Pope Paul VII said | January 11th 2017 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

        Spot on Twodogs.

    • January 11th 2017 @ 6:39am
      qwetzen said | January 11th 2017 @ 6:39am | ! Report

      Age isn’t the problem at Nein, it’s a lack of talent. It’s a discussion-worthy topic; Why is Neins’ technical coverage of its two major sports so very good and its commentary at both so very bad. Is it still the shade of Packer? Or is it policy to employ boofy ex-players and aim at the lowest common denominator? Either way out of the five commentary teams (Nein, Ten, ABC & MMM radio & Foxsports occasionally) at the cricket microphones you’d have to say that Nein are running sixth.

      Anyway, occasional Roarer Geoff Lemon did the Nein cricket mob superbly in this, now somewhat out of date piece two years ago.
      http://tinyurl.com/j6cdxcd

    • Roar Guru

      January 11th 2017 @ 6:40am
      Jake Rosengarten said | January 11th 2017 @ 6:40am | ! Report

      I think the missing element is not youth – as pointed out by Christo above – Clarkey is just 35. But rather, the need for media professionals to join the ex-players in the box.

      Ex-players can only give a commentary box so much, sure they bring great anecdotes, knowledge of the game and so forth. But at the end of the day, good commentary comes from structure and entertainment which can be provided by those who are trained for television by trade.

      • January 11th 2017 @ 7:06am
        qwetzen said | January 11th 2017 @ 7:06am | ! Report

        I don’t think that there’s anything wrong per se with having a liberal spread of ex-players in the box, there must be some who are witty, articulate and intelligent. Even if they’re ‘only’ ex-Shield players. Something else Nein could do to improve their performance would be to remove their existing residential quota system. That’d almost certainly result in a significant improvement…

    • January 11th 2017 @ 7:51am
      AlanC said | January 11th 2017 @ 7:51am | ! Report

      A knowledgeable female voice can be great for cricket commentary. Take Alison Mitchell, from the ABC radio team this season, for a great example.

      Two reasons it wouldn’t work on 9: 1) They wouldn’t be likely to pick someone knowledgeable, rather it’d be someone from one of their drama series they wished to cross promote;

      2) Warne, Slater and Taylor would descend even further into burgeoning pubescent boy mode.

      • Roar Guru

        January 11th 2017 @ 8:23am
        Red Kev said | January 11th 2017 @ 8:23am | ! Report

        Agreed. I really enjoy listening to Ali Mitchell on Grandstand and also to Mel and Lisa when the WBBL is on TV.
        Slater needs to be relegated to just the Cricket Show, he seems to bring out the worst in others when in the commentary box.

        • January 11th 2017 @ 1:45pm
          AlanC said | January 11th 2017 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

          Slater reminds me of my Labrador when she was young but without her intelligence or ability to mature with grace.

      • January 11th 2017 @ 5:24pm
        Mick H said | January 11th 2017 @ 5:24pm | ! Report

        Yeah they need a female voice. She’ll need to be intelligent and able to keep her own against the blokes in the commentary box. Isa showed she could handle herself with the boys club.

        Good call about the cross promotion. Sad but true. “Delta Goodrem, how long have you been a cricket fan for..?”

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