Dear God: Save us from Sunny, Dada, Shaz, Waz

ARVIND SWAMINATHAN writes from Madras: Many years ago, before we began adorning papad-thin plasma screens on our walls, India’s finest cricket writer (no, not that one) described one of life’s small but great pleasures.

It was the time of Dyanora and Solidaire and EC. The cabinets were wooden or plywood. The TV sets came with rolling shutters that moved sidewards and protected the screens from dust and neighbourly envy.

And the remote control was thoughtfully screwed into the machine so that no one would misplace it.

“Parting the shutters from the middle, switching on the power and seeing the first images of a Test match in Australia flicker on—the green on the ground, the blue in the sky, the white on the clothes, the words on Channel Nine lips—it was like opening a small window into paradise,” said M.K..

Yes, paradise.

Three days into the 2011 series, waking up at 5.30 in the morning, pressing a button which looks something like this ‘Ô’ on my remote and firing up my Tata Sky and turning to channel 413, is like opening a small window into hell.

Yes, hell of the cricket watching kind.

The green is still green, the blue is still blue, and the white is still white. The images are even better with hawk-eye and this and that. But it is the words of the Star Cricket commentary team—ranging all the way from bland to banal, from boring to boilerplate bullshit that gets me popping my Tazloc-H™ with my first cup of filter coffee.

Between them, Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri, Sourav Ganguly and Wasim Akram, ably aided by Tom Moody and some new kid in the studio, pile on more crap than AnyTownIndia at that vital hour of the morning.

Alternately cliched, egotistic, and ultra-nationalistic, and coated with khunnus, the commentary rarely rises above the ordinary and mundane. There is not one smart new or wild line or observation, and no turn of phrase whatsoever, except sometimes from Ian Chappell.

A lovely game (and a superb series) with infinite possibilities is being strangled by the finiteness of their collective vocabulary.

The monotone motormouths don’t know when to stop talking and let us savour the scenery. They blindly read everything a viewer can see on the screen, and I sometimes fear they might end up reading the “Vodafone Power to You” advertising signs at the bowler’s ends.

All this passes in the name of providing viewers with voices they can relate with, and there’s no denying the Australian accent is alien to many. But listening to the very ordinary Star Cricket bores and wondering what pearls the sparkling Channel Nine set must be dropping at that very moment, fills me with anger each morning.

This morning, when Wasim Akram said something in Punjabi to the effect of “different cattle of fish” I was convinced that if there was a New Year wish I could make four days in advance, it was that Sunny and Dada, Shaz and Waz would be deported from Down Under on grounds of syntax.

Photograph: The Channel Nine commentary team via Yahoo

Also read: Feng shui and the art of cricket commentary

‘The genial halwai serving sweets with a wink’

Who killed (good) cricket writing?

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18 Responses to “Dear God: Save us from Sunny, Dada, Shaz, Waz”

  1. vaidya Says:

    Those days of great Channel 9 commentary are gone. All you’ll have now are Aussie chest-thumping in the form of Slater, Taylor and Co. Benaud, Lawry etc rarely make an appearance. Healy is plain boring. Let’s not even talk of Greig. Let’s face it. Commentary world over is descending into new lows. There are, but a few sources of solace like Hussein, Holding and Lloyd.

  2. MysooruBoyz Says:

    There is no retirement age here..we are stuck with these guys for a long long time…Sachin, Dravid will join soon…and wheres Harsha Bhogle these days?

  3. Alok Prasanna Kumar (@alokpi) Says:

    Having heard Channel 9 during the Aus NZ test series, I can assure you that everything you’ve said about Star Cricket is true about Channel Nine as well, with the sole exception of Richie Benaud.

    Frankly, I think TMS and ABC’s radio commentary is far superior (and if you want a slightly “alternate” take on things, I would recommend Test Match Sofa) to anything on television but I think the key to having a tolerably decent commentary broadcast on tv is all in the format.

    Having two sportsmen, neither well versed in public broadcasting is a bad idea. On occasion, Wasim Akram and Sourav Ganguly say something that’s actually quite insightful about fast bowling or captaincy or batting but the point is that it is all disconnected and the effect is lost. Sourav and Wasim should be used to analyze the play from a cricketer’s pov while someone else with a flair for words and their usage (and I’m not talking about Sidhu!) actually describe the action and provide the context for the pros to pitch in about the game.

    That said, I’d like Ravi Shastri banned from being present in a 150m radius around a microphone.

    For life.

  4. Nikhil Narayan Says:

    At 5am, I also need commentary running to keep me awake and alert. Had to mute channel 413 because of these buggers and ended up sleeping thru parts of the game.

    Try the ABC grandstand radio commentary. The IP was blocked on their website but had it. its a bit delayed but they are talking about a lot of other stuff that is not “stating what is obvious and on the screen”, so it doesnt matter. Some good chatter going on there.

  5. the colonel Says:

    put your tv on MUTE

  6. vindy_p Says:

    agree with all the points raised by arvind, I hear either the TMS on guardian or abc @

  7. Nastika Says:

    Sunny & Shaz are paid by BCCI to canvass for BCCI & defend BCCI actions on air. Occasionally Waz makes some interesting comment about fast bowling. Dada though new doesn’t bring anything new to the table. Unless I am 100% sure the commentator is Chappel, the TV is always on mute for cricket.

    Silence is better than noise.


  8. Faldo Says:

    In the so called good old days of Channel 9 broadcasts commentators strictly felt that TV was meant to be seen while radio commentary was for hearing. That is the reason why a lot of us could clearly hear the bat knocking the ball or the sound of wickets being scattered.
    Cutting to the present, TV commentators of all hues like themselves to be heard and seen as they are competing with hundreds of other channels. This is as much true of Channel 9 as it is of Star.

  9. chidu22 Says:

    Well,the article is first of its kind.For many years I wondered is it me or their are others who were irritated by his bunch of jokers in the commentators box.Nonsensicle chatter bordering on cacophony.Full of cliches,borrowed words without knowing its usage.These will out do the NDTV crew any day when it comes to blabbering.We need a campaign to throw these bunch out.

  10. Balaji Says:

    Fully agree with all of your thoughts and the above comments. I actually didn’t think Tom Moody was as bad as the Indian contingent. I got the feeling that he tried his best to workaround the nonsense that was being spouted from his counterparts. I adore Wasim as a bowler but as a commentator… he shouldn’t even be trying. He surely likes to share a lot his experience but he should come in as an expert during breaks. Same goes with Ganguly. I guess we have taken the idea of having ex-cricketers as commentators to the extreme. We need people who are skilled at communicating and engaging the viewers which is not a natural ability to all. The only Indian I enjoy listening to these days is Harsha Bhogle. He for sure has a better command of the language than the others and has this boyish enthusiasm that’s contagious.

  11. Indian Says:

    Jason de La Pena is doing a good job as is Moody. The rest of the sub continent mix is crap, plain bull shit.

  12. Chirag Says:

    “But listening to the very ordinary Star Cricket bores and wondering what pearls the sparkling Channel Nine set must be dropping at that very moment, fills me with anger each morning.”

    Totally agreed…but the thing is even Sunny isnt there…otherwise usse kaam chal jata…anyway, one more thing for me is the speedgun…i watched online stream of channel 9 for a session n right then ishant clocked 152.2 n i was so thrilled…without speedgun it seems very boring.

    i so wish if espn fwds us direct channel 9 feed

  13. ERR Says:

    wonder why Harsha Bogle is not there..?. he can teach a thing or two on commentary to all of them.. still.. one misses those radio commentators of yore…

  14. keshab C. Says:

    For me best Indian commentator was late MAK Pataudi. Mohinder Amarnath comes second despite his north Indian accent.

  15. srikar Says:

    The Sky Sports live stream link that seems to give the Aussie points of view ( for those of us who want another option to the yet another show !)


  16. Arvind Narayanan Says:

    Got the Channel 9 commentary for 30 mins today due to some technical glitch in Star Cricket. But as Vaidya said above, the Ch9 commentary team is no great shakes nowadays.If you are a die-hard Indian fan , better stay away from them as they mince no words in taking digs at the Indian team.

    But their features, additional snippets in between, overall graphics etc is much superior. And I get irritated by Akram’s constant mis-pronunciation of Haddin’s name as HAYDEN. All of us knew the quality of Shaz always, but the fall of Ganguly’s commentary quality is shocking. There’s no Sunny here right?

  17. Says:

    Totally agree with you. The myopic commentary is just a pain to listen to. Watching TV on mute!!!

  18. Ram Praksh Kurilla Says:

    I think Harsha Bhogle and Sunny Gavaskar’s contract was not renewed by the ESS. Harsha is doing commentary for the ABC Grandstand and Gavaskar giving his inputs on NDTV along with Dean Jones. Star Cricket commentary is rubbish. Pl. Forward the Channel 9 feed

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