For millions of cricket fans across the world, TV or radio commentary is their conduit to the proceedings in the middle. The commentator adds colour to the experience of watching the game and more often than not, he is a sort of unknown friend to the viewers.
Over a period of time, certain commentators inevitably become favourites and some of their signature lines gain iconic status among cricket fans. Here is a look at some of the most famous punchlines in cricket commentary history and the commentators who made them immortal.
#5 ‘Went like a tracer bullet’ - Ravi Shastri
During the course of his commentary and broadcasting career that has spanned over two decades, Ravi Shastri has become one of the most well-known voices for cricket fans across the globe. Before he was made the Indian national team coach, watching an India game was unthinkable unless the familiar voice of Shastri accompanied it and before long, one of his punchlines became not only famous but the butt of jokes on social media and among cricket fans in general.
Whenever a batsman hit a particularly well-timed shot or if the ball went away quickly to the fence, Shastri’s pet phrase more often than not used to be ‘that went like a tracer bullet’. Despite being an accomplished commentator and broadcaster, Shastri is now defined by his ‘tracer bullet’ punchline and it is without doubt one of the best, despite its comical value.
#4 ‘Dejected as a wet hen’ - Navjor Singh Siddhu
Now, Navjot Singh Sidhu did not have a long career in cricket commentary but for the few years that he handled the microphone, he dropped one-liners that are still recounted fondly by cricket fans.
Sidhu might not have been the most incisive of commentators but he was, without a doubt, a thorough entertainer and his clever usage of out-of-the-way and sometimes self-made idioms, made him a viewer’s delight. Among the many punchlines that he used, the ‘dejected as a hen’ is a particularly memorable one and was usually used to sum up the reaction of a batsman after being dismissed.
However, Sidhu put his oratory skills to better use and went into politics. Cricket lost what Indian politics gained.
#3 ‘What a little beauty’ - Tony Greig
Tony Greig was probably one of the most loved cricket commentators ever and his ability to engage the viewer, even during mundane passages of play made him a standout exponent of the art of commentary.
Greig worked for a slew of broadcasters over the course of his commentary career that lasted several decades and one of the hallmarks of his commentary was his ability to really go nuts during periods of excitement.
A six, a wicket or a great piece of fielding; they all got the Greig treatment and among his many pet phrases, ‘what a little beauty’ stands out. It might have been about a fielder after he had taken a blinder or a bowler who had taken a particularly vital wicket. In fact, any remarkable show of talent on the field and Tony went to his stock phrase. However, his inimitable style meant that people never got bored with it. It is without a doubt one of the best punchlines in cricket commentary.
#2 ‘It’s all happening here’ - Bill Lawry
The former Australian captain was a fixture on Channel 9 for around four decades since his retirement in 1971 and he was particularly famous for his boisterous nature of commentary that became a big hit with cricket fans not only in Australia but all over the world.
In spite of the fact that he was an extremely intelligent commentator and explained the different nuances of the game perfectly when required, it was some of his stock phrases that remain a part of cricketing parlance to this day.
During an exciting or see-sawing period in a cricket match, one of his stock punchlines was ‘it’s all happening here’ and that remains his most memorable one. However, he was also famous for ‘got him’ at the fall of a wicket or ‘bang’ if a batsman got clean bowled.
#1 ‘Marvellous’ - Richie Benaud
It might well be just a word but it was the most famous punchline of perhaps the greatest cricket commentator to have ever lived during the television era. Richie Benaud had commentated in over 500 Test matches in a career spanning more than five decades and his style was understated, detailed yet engaging.
Benaud was never known to raise his voice in excitement or praise a cricketer too effusively. The most he would say if he liked something was ‘marvellous’ and that, for the viewer, became the ultimate stamp of approval. It was just one word but it went on to become one of the most famous and iconic punchlines in cricket commentary history.