Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Cream, The White, The Off-White, The Ivory or the Beige - mimitig

In less than a week, the ICC World Cup kicks-off in the West Indies.

International managers and selectors are worrying over their team selections. Those of us playing Fantasy Cricket are also beginning to panic about our fina line-up for the opening phase, but let's not forget the most important selection process of them all: The Commentary Team Selection.

It's hard being part of a commentary team: there is history; there are icons of the profession to live up to. Should a contender aspire to be Richie Benaud or John Arlott?

What is more important to finesse: a Boycottesque hat fetish, or a Tony Greig-style love affair - digging keys and pens into the crease?

To make matters worse, for the up-and-coming young commentator, there is a choice of medium to work in. No longer is it simply a matter of refining your wireless technique. Nowadays you must worry about whether to hone your writing skills and look to join the recently-formed but already world-famous GU Over-by-over commentators. Perhaps you'd best focus on a suave and sophisticated look and go head-to-head with the debonair Mark Nicholas on Channel 9? How about trying to marry a combination of old-fashioned Test Match Special radio pace and tones with the more frenetic style favoured by Radio Five Live?

Across the board, there are qualities you must acquire, in abundance. An encyclopaedic knowledge of the game - and not just the form of the game you are currently commentating on. For the World Cup, you must also demonstrate your familiarity with Test Cricket as you will be called upon to compare players' form in the different disciplines.

Of course, it's far easier now, as there are numerous stats available to you at the press of a button: you won't have to leaf through thousands of pages of Wisden to check your facts, nonetheless, this is still probably the hardest aspect to master. Then you must also possess either charm or an aspect of eccentricity that renders you a figure of affection not ridicule or global hatred.

This will be a hard act to get right.

If working on any interactive coverage, you must balance the quick put-downs and insults you feel like hurling at your correspondents, with the need to be gracious and welcoming, even to Johnny-Come-Latelies, who really do deserve a hard slap.

On TV you have to judge when the picture tells a better story than your enthusiastic but perhaps misplaced words can. For the radio commentators it is even more difficult. Are your listeners also following TV broadcasts? Are they logged on to their computers enjoying coverage that may be slower, but sometimes more accurate? How can you keep the old-timers on board and still be fun enough to attract a new young audience?

Right now I suspect that most aspiring members of a Commentary Team, whoever they are, wherever they are, heartily wish that the only selection process they faced was whether they were good enough for The Wide World of Sport.


MotM said...

Spot on mimi - those long hours during the Ashes pays off with stuff like this.

You did neglect to mention that a public school background helps (BBC), an England captaincy is handy (Sky) and chromosome distribution seems vital everywhere, though God knows why in 2007 for chrissakes!

Oh and you have to smile when Botham's poured custard into your shoes (again).

andrewm said...

I used to think with the OBO it was a question for the hacks of deciding how sarcastic they could be. Lately I think they don't really care.

Zeph said...

Lovely stuff, mimi.

olivier said...

offsideintahiti said...

yeah, very nice. Cricket World Cup? Wow, can't wait...

olivier said...

offsideintahiti said...

just kidding

Tweet it, digg it