Sportsfreak agree with me, so I posted this.
Lost amongst the allegations of racial abuse, taunts, and bowlers pontificating towards the dressing rooms, one of the most disappointing aspects of the recent Indian tour of Australia has been the steep and very obvious decline of the Channel Nine commentary team.
Once the pinnacle of cricket broadcasting (and some may say broadcasting in any sport), this outfit has become more embarrassing by the year. And during the 2007/8 series, they finally reached their collective nadir.
It is a sad sight when any public figure loses the plot. However, when an entire commentary team simultaneously submerges itself in a sea of drivel, questions need to be asked.
Tony Greig, the South African/English/Australian consistently recognised as one of cricket’s biggest ever mercenaries, is many years past his best before date (if indeed he ever had one). His place in the commentary box came compliments of a thank you from the late Kerry Packer for all his work during the World Series Cricket years. Now that Kerry has departed this mortal coil, it is time that Greig’s commentary career suffered a similar fate.
His condescending attitude has steadily worsened over the years, which is no mean feat – this is from the man who used to describe Gundappa Viswanath as “Little Vishy”, as if he was a five year old referring to his pet goldfish.
As far as Bill Lawry goes, his commentaries have declined into a state of borderline senility. His bizarre ranting during the 20/20 game at the MCG was the effort of an elderly man, who, in a state of dementia, had reverted back to his preschool years. It was a thorough embarrassment watching a grown man whooping it up like he had just won lotto.
A couple of years ago, Mark Nicholas was a very good front man. He had the ability to temper some of the jingoistic Australian twaddle with a level-headed approach that lent the Channel Nine team some credibility. But, as the crew at Cricket with Art rightly point out, he appears to have fallen victim to Stockholm Syndrome, and any sense of balance has been beaten out of him by his captors.
The new breed of Taylor, Healy and Slater have now been on board for a few seasons. Taylor and Healy are very ordinary at best, seemingly there as a result of their efforts to be so pro-Australian that the others pale in comparison. Slater looked to have plenty of potential a couple of years ago, but has not progressed thanks to the team of donkeys around him. All too often he is heard sniggering like a primary school girl at the back of the box as a result of some in-joke between he and Taylor that nobody else is allowed in on. Must have had some rude words in them. When Gilly arrives, he is surely gone.
Ian Chappell is, was and always has been a commentary enigma. He, of all the Channel Nine crew, is the most likely to provide the best technical analysis – he is also capable of pointing out something so thought provoking that it will stop the viewer in their tracks. However, this is tempered by snide remarks usually directed at anybody playing Australia. The smarmy delivery does not make for easy listening, and at times over the last few seasons it almost appears as though he is getting bored with it all. The ignoring of Tendulkar is just plain sour grapes.
And of course last, but not least, there is Richie.
Long regarded as the doyen of TV cricket commentators, the once great Richie Benaud has gone on two seasons too long. His time on the microphone has been drastically reduced, yet when he DOES appear, he is reduced to corny one liners in a “really guys, I am very funny” method. If further proof was needed, his display in the Symonds vs Streaker episode was particularly unamusing.
Mind you, everyone else in the commentary box thought Richie was hilaaaaaarious. Course they did. He is, after all, their Godfather.