“The key thing was to learn the value of economy with words and to never insult the viewer by telling them what they can already see.”
This is what Richie Benaud used to say about commentary. Of course, he also agreed that different people have different views about it. The commentary team at the just concluded IPL seemed to think differently. More than what we could see, commentators kept telling us what we didn’t want to hear. Obligated to spell out every sponsor, a ‘six’ became a ‘DLF-er’, a catch became a ‘Karbonn Kamaal’ and a good inning by a young talent became a ‘Citi rising star’ moment. To make things worse, these were shouted at a decibel level just short of deafening. Now that Kolkata can yell ‘Jeetbo’ after 5 seasons, let’s take a look at the men on the microphone who have added some noise to the carnival.
1) Crazy Dan
Namaskara Bengaluruuuuuuuuuuuu!!! When he’s got the mic in his hand, the whole of India knows where the match is happening. A great teacher of the English alphabet, Danny Morrison likes everything in pairs. The double Ds, double Gs and the double Rs were what kept Danny going through the IPL. Not to mention the flirting with the pretty anchors. The others in the commentary team called him ‘quite a character’, we only wish he becomes a ‘quiet character’.
2) Gut feel Ravi
There’s no escaping Ravi Shastri’s gut feel. If you’re a wicket, a six, a boundary, a win or a loss, you are bound to be in his gut. He celebrated his birthday during the IPL. It would be so tough to throw a surprise party for him, because he would have a gut feel about it. However, one must agree his reputation as a player has grown because of his commentary. Irrespective of all the ‘Shastri-isms’, he did sometimes talk sense. In his words, “That’s good shot!”
3) Sherry Paaji
Quite the effervescent poet, Navjot Singh Sidhu is the life of the Set Max studio. Most of what he says is beyond comprehension. The need to not look stupid makes everyone else just nod along to what he says. He has become famous for his patent ‘Siddhuisms’ and Sony’s favourite celebrity. Not much be said about him except, “You cannot make Omelets without breaking the eggs.”
4) Sunny in Jamaica
Surprisingly, Sunil Gavaskar was quite entertaining in the studio. His West Indian accent was a pleasant change ‘maan’. He threw in a few jokes, albeit poor ones, but jokes nevertheless. Drifting away from the regular Aussie bashing, Sunny was up to the task. Some delicate insights and some stories from the past. Sunil Gavaskar had a good IPL, wouldn’t you say?
5) Big Tom
Calm and insightful. This big Australian was by far, the least annoying commentator this IPL. Not only did he focus on the cricket, but also threw in a bit of humour as well. Well played, Tom!
The others including Harsha, Sanjay and Mbangwa were their usual selves. Focused on the cricket, a bit of banter, forcefully saying the sponsors’ names were some of the things that made them likeable.
Once again quoting Richie Benaud, “Put your brain into gear and if you can add to what's on the screen then do it, otherwise shut up.” Even the commentary at the IPL did all it could to shift the focus from the cricket. There were some unbelievable shots played this season. But the technicality involved was never explained. As an audience, that is what piques my interest the most. The constant yelling whenever the ball goes into the outfield is not something I would miss. Of course, a bit of life in the box is always a pleasure. If it is interspersed with a bit of ‘cricket gyaan’, maybe I wouldn’t reach for the mute button from time to time.