On one rainy evening, when I was scrolling down the feed of my Facebook, one of the old videos of the commentary box posted by the “Lord’s Cricket Ground” in the 1948 Ashes Test including the likes of Jim Laker and Bradman caught my eyes. 53-years it’s been since then; but the scene with voice and background noise is absolutely poles apart from the present generation.
The Old Generation of Commentary:
That unnamed commentator (could be known to you) just with a mike in one hand whereas a burning cigarette has kept the other hand busy; is just describing the game for the radio-listeners. He made a difference between the openers spotting that only Barnes had the cap while Morris didn’t. He almost drew the picture of how Laker started the bowling and that too from which end and action!!
What I found so attracting and mostly missing in these days was the silence; the most important thing in test Cricket. Even, the silent phases were present in the Benaud-Greig era. Just after the batsman reached to a milestone; whether it’s a century or 50, someone takes a 5-fer or a leapfrog catch in the field; they stopped for a moment and let the viewers enjoy the period. Fairly, the fans back home just desire to get the sound of claps, whistles, cheers coming to the ears.
“In England, less is considered more on commentary.” Naseer Hussain talked about the different styles of broadcasting.
As a Young-star of dreaming to be in the zone, you always fancy of closing your eyes, looking around and of being in the center of the atmosphere. And then the commentator’s job begins; coming into the type of the ball; the mode of playing the shot and others. Those things remain quite missing in these days.
But there is another chapter in the book; technologies have grown up and viewers want to have those little setups for analyzing the ball, the swing, the art of reverse-swing and different kind of spinning balls; those head falling for the batsman etc. But you can have those analyses during the breaks but I am requesting of not showing it in between games; at-least not between overs.
Story of A Great Commentator, AFS Talyarkhan:
We, the viewers want to enjoy the balls, the movements and the emotions running with every single delivery. The post COVID-era has reborn the old scenes; because of no spectators were being allowed on the ground, one can sense those silence where you can hear the wind blowing, little bit of funny banters between the players.
Having gone through about the stories of some commentators, I have come across with a rich, fruitful voice, AFS Talyarkhan; India’s first Cricket and Football radio broadcaster and someone who also did India’s first Hockey broadcast, about someone, Historian Ramachandra Guha had described the man in his book “A Corner of a Foreign Field.”, “His self-control was superhuman, for he would speak without interruptions.”
Before reading this piece, I had heard about his legacy from the “Voice of Cricket”, Harsha Bhogle in an interview. He spoke that AFST would sit at one place with a bottle of Whiskey and kept on commentating the game all alone and that flow was same in all days. Later, when All India Radio proposed of having a commentary team, he left saying, “I don’t share.” That was a kind of brutal bubble he lived in.
Discussing about Broadcasting and presentation, hardly you can look beyond the Voice, Harsha Bhogle. Someone, who is doing it for about 100-years day in day out, there are couple of things that fascinates me a lot. One that you can hear from so many people around the globe of how he spells out the emotion of the fans, the feelings drifting with every single ball and run and that 5-7mins he threw during the farewell Mumbai test of Sachin Tendulkar was a surreal to have with some of his iconic lines.
Secondly, what I just love is the different styles of voice ; during talking about alternate points on the game, sometimes you need use a bit heavy voice whereas in those light conversations, you require to be polite and light in your style. And he is absolutely spot on in his job; not so easy as it looks; or it doesn’t look so easy either.
In the new generation, there are mostly those commentators who had played the game; makes it more tough for the non-cricketers, although a handful of those exist. At that pace one thing that you have to maintain is impartiality. And Naseer Hussain freely talked about it in the Cricbuzz show. “I am not a cheer-leader for England; there are two sides playing.”
Being Unbias is Such Important in Commentary:
You have to on radar about praising the player of your country and besides that you have to keep an eye that you don’t look for excuses in criticizing the bloke if he is not doing justice to his business. May be that’s why Virat Kohli, Indian captain has selected him as his favorite commentator. It’s not about his voice but the energy he brings in the box is yippee.
May be India has lost the greatest commentators, often I love to keep my television on mute rather than hurting my ears. England and West Indies has got some of the best commentators in the world right now; Naseer, Atherton, Michael Holding, Isha Guha, Shane Warne, Mark Nichollas, Ian Bishop, Simon Doull; and that WTC final 2021 had just spelled out why I am asking that. I can hear them all day long.
And when you take a walk in the universe, the half is saying why are you always bias for one particular side whereas the rest is questioning why are you always criticizing the same side; if that occurs then you know you are doing a decent job.
Also, another essential part of the broadcasting is pronouncing the same cliché again and again. I am bored of hearing, “Up in the aiiiiiirrrr.”, “fifty for X”, “Taken” or “Dropped” etc.; let’s change the mode and express it in a different way.
And lastly, to sign it off, let me talk about some of the iconic words that generally keeps on looping when you glued with the highlights of the game; it’s those lines you always want to be a part of but at the same time you have to use lines that can define the moment even after 20-years. You don’t want to hear a boring line games after games; greatest commentators do the best job.
My eyes have got the picture to see but the ears still eagerly searching for the informational lines and voices.