Sunday, 14 June 2009

The Perks of Being a Commentator

Anyone who knows what the title of this post is a reference to gets brownie points for being awesome.

I have often noticed that commentators, in all their retired glory, don't seem to find the actual commenting on cricket aspect of their job all that appealing, but rather, they prefer the more creative part. It lets them experiment, go wild, get their brains churning, etc.

I am, of course, referring to the nondescript commentary they provide on what is going on in the brains of the cricketers. You'd think half these men gave up their dream of being script writers from the marvellous and extensive thoughts they invent for the players. Thankfully, having retired from the game and secured a commentary position with a top notch broadcaster, they're free to pursue their long lost dreams in which they provide the voices for the puppets on the field.

In fact, they practically shit themselves when the captain walks up to his bowler and has a nice long chat with him. "Brilliant!" the commentators exclaim. "What might they be saying? Ah, I know..." At which point he proceeds to describe in painfully boring detail what the on-field conversation is. Sometimes they come up with thoughts/dialogue for the players that are outlandishly far-fetched, turning a slightly grim expression into an "OH NOEZ!!!!1!!! WE R FCUKED!!!" But it's all part of the job, really. Having unnecessarily translated a facial expression or conversation for audiences around the world, the men at the helm smile to themselves contently. The world is a better place with everyone knowing just what you think is going on in Chris Gayle's head.

Sometimes, I listen to their imaginings of conversations and I think, if they're going to offer something up, why not make it wonderfully interesting? Why not tell listeners that the reason Vettori is looking so unhappy out there is because he's cheating on his wife with Baz? If I were offered the opportunity to deliver such truths to listeners, I wouldn't stop at anything. I would exercise creative license to turn a word of congratulations between players on opposing teams into reason for calling them out on match-fixing or batting for the wrong side, and literally this time.

Unfortunately, all we have is a bunch of smug old men inventing a completely unfunny line of dialogue for Sehwag and then chuckling at their own cleverness. The power of commentating, if it rested in other hands, could be put to better use.

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