Cricket: The Ashes: A change in the commentary side perhaps?

(Source: Sport On A Box)
(Source: Sport On A Box)

No, I’m not talking about the players out in the middle – I’m talking about the guys who we hear through our speakers at home for six hours or more a day.

After every ball, during every drinks break, every interval, and the one hour pre-game coverage.  It certainly is a lot, and for some, it is too much.

On top of that, when speaking to “special guest stars” at the luncheon break, there’s a fair dilution of other sports.  So what gives?

A straight answer: I do not know.  Viewers are inundated with irrelevant stories, copious amounts of memorabilia that the majority of us will not buy, and, perhaps once or twice, an error when it comes to statistics.

Day 2 of the Boxing Day Test 2013 saw High Tea held for the McGrath Foundation.  Present were several Southern Stars players (the Australian women’s team), along with plenty of partners from the side out in the middle.  Yet, not one got a feature today, and over the course of the series, it’s been less about cricket, and more about the “big names.”  As a cricket tragic, it turns me away from watching.

I do not doubt that commentary takes years to practice, to hone the tone and voice.  However, when you’re in front of, and being heard by people on a national scale, you don’t really want social media dropping negative comments.

Plenty on social media are finding, first of all, the voices of the Channel 9 team to be too overwhelming.  Every ball they want to say something, no matter what topic it may be.

Having read plenty of annoyed tweets, here’s three main things I’ve picked up on:

  • Commentators need to focus on the game
  • Pushing all the advertisements is part of the job; but there’s way too many of them
  • The majority of segments pre-game and at the lunch interval go for too long

I am a big fan of David “Bumble” Lloyd, who is out here with the English commentary team.  Unfortunately, everyone else wants a piece of the action.

Tackling each problem at a time, first with a solution in the commentary box:

  • Finding the right balance of views is an important part of the coverage.  The best way to do that is talking about the situation of the game and keeping the viewers engaged, rather than (at times) meaningless banter designed as filler
  • “Cut” the coverage – an hour of items pre-game cam meander on after a while. The best parts are the analysis of the game and discussions with the players.  Having other miscellaneous parts becomes lost in the background

The second part, that of getting cricketers on the coverage, has been more frustrating to watch.  Granted, having other Australian sports stars such as Kookaburras hockey veteran Jamie Dwyer and AFL footballers Scott Pendlebury and Gary Ablett is relatable only up to the word sport.

With Channel 9 broadcasting all three Women’s Ashes series Twenty20 matches, it would be both a massive credibility boost for the station, and increase the exposure and recognition for the Southern Stars.  The perfect opportunity existed on Day 2, and it was not taken.  Even just a couple of minutes would have been sufficient.

Agree to disagree, but everywhere you look, there are males, and no females in sight.  Without trying to call it sexism, there is room for change.  Where is another question, but the when needs to be soon.  Fast becoming the laughing stock of social media, a fresh squirt of new faces might just take the edge of the fuel.  All the necessary promotion of the sport is there, simply taking a new direction and grabbing more viewers before showing the women’s Twenty20 matches would look fantastic.

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