“Four commentators together in the commentary box,” I thought to myself as I vainly watched the Australian equivalent of IPL, The Big Bash League’s Final. This could be a great idea for a write-up that I may like to publish on Sportskeeda (and then shamelessly pimp/plug on my Facebook/ Twitter page so that the people I hardly know may know how big shot I am) was my second thought.
So, how many commentators does it take to change a light bulb? Apparently they are still filling up the commentary box down under to answer that. I gather that Big Bash has been this sugar daddy to all “out of the box” innovations, from helmet cam to LED bails.
As “reaching out to the consumer” as it may sound, having four people describe the proceeding of the game to viewers seems a little odd to me. And taking cue from the national board of cricket, I have aversion to technology in general, so enough with the bails and cams, and I also believe in the philosophy of two is a company; three is India, Australia and England; but four? Four is plain absurdity.
While watching the finals of the Big Bash League, I was at first amazed to look at that large a group in the commentary box together. But when I tried lending my ear to the powerful foursome of Ricky Ponting, Damien Fleming, Mark Waugh and Adam Gilchrist, I found it terribly tough to keep grasp of the proceedings as the subject of discussion went from the live action to the nearby Bruce Springsteen concert, to someone in the commentary box having a look at the tickets for the concert in a split second. With so many voices and confusion, I was rather happy switching the TV off than to continue with the ordeal.
With proliferation in the commentary box, it is hard not to look back at much more simpler times of Richie Benuad and all, who used to make it a point, in a very gentlemanly manner, to wait for a delivery to describe it rather than build up a delivery every time.
The ridiculing of Ravi Shastri is not just funny but a sign of how things stand today. The vigour (and cliches) provided by the Shastris and Morrisons is a thing welcomed by the broadcasters to “attract” the viewers and improve ratings. There is this burning need to glamorize the sport and the sports channels are going hammer and tong about it.
Growing up, it was a norm hearing two people on the TV set commentate a game or in some cases (when the cable walla/ power authority held a grudge against your locality), only a single infallible voice on the radio describing the cricketing action, regardless of how bland the proceedings may have been, as a matter of life and death.
I still feel a sense of reverence for the radio commentators, for the way they have helped in promoting the game through the years. From the times when TV was luxury in our country, people having transistors glued to their ears, listening to the ball by ball action, is somewhat of a recurring image of that time.
Now even the two commentator system seems to belong to a bygone era, for hardly any broadcaster goes with it. The new norm is three commentators, which has been implemented through all the three formats of the game lately. As far as the things are presently, it won’t be wrong to predict that four commentators may start to feature more prominently. “The more the merrier” seems like the motto for cricket broadcasters.