Friday, December 28, 2007

Channel 9

It is such a pleasure to watch cricket in Channel 9. I am watching it after a really long time. Finally, the list of commentators has become interesting. Mainly because they have not included any Indian commentator. The current crop of Indian commentators are so bad. My god! Probably the monster ugliness of Navjoth Sidhu has hidden the minature ugliness present among the rest of them. With Shastri competing for 'cliche of the year' and Sunny Gavaskar becoming senile, it was high time they were relieved of their jobs and shot dead with the rest of them (barring Harsha Bhogle). I am so glad I don't get to hear the Arun Lals, Akshay Kapoors, Atul Wassans and the Manjrekars of the world. Anyway, watching cricket alone, at home, and listening to commentary devoid of noise found bachelor pad/grad-school-housing is such a refreshing experience.
Channel 9 now has 3 commentators in every shift as opposed to the usual 2. Since Willow TV does not cut for commercials and does not unlink the satellite, it is sometimes possible to observe what the commentary team talk among themselves during breaks. I heard them discuss that - one commentator takes the lead during every shift and the other two pitch in occasionally. The list of commentators is; Richie Benaud, Tony , Bill Lawry, Ian Chappell, Mark Taylor, Ian Healy, and Michael Slater. This team is hosted by my favorite Mark Nicholas. I know it is a Shastri-like cliche but Richie Benaud continues to awe me. He is the best commentator I have seen and will probably ever see. Not to mention Ian Chappel's sharp acerbic analysis. Most of all I like their frank disagreements and "It is your opinion Ian and I disagree" said Slater coolly when in fact he was wrong. Slater and Taylor's anguish on why openers don't get night watchmen was really funny. They have a new technology called 'hotspot' which traces the thermal changes on a batsman's bat/body to observe nicks.
Simon O'Donnell runs a lunch show called the 'The Cricket Show'. Day I featured cricket in India. Day II featured Sachin giving an exclusive interview to some rare well-asked questions. Day III had an interview with the Australian PM. Today they had a documentary on upcoming Australian spinnners. Sometimes, Channel 9 brings in Richie and Ian for an exclusive 20 minute interview. The articulate their wisdom so well. Today, during tea they hauled in Sunny for his stupid comments. He suggested Sehwag's inclusion. Thats allright. But Mark quickly asked back "who would you drop?" Sunny recommended that India drop anyone among Dravid, Laxman and Yuvraj to make space for Sehwag. Laxman!.... Laxman be dropped against Australia to make space for someone who scored one 195 fours years ago. It is amazing what complete lack of common sense can do to a person.
Coming back to Richie Benaud. His pithy one-liners are so wise. Sometime I wonder how he developed his famous economy of words. More importantly, he is quick on his feet. With amazing speed he can come up with a fantastic observation that is well constructed in a pithy sentence. There was a discussion of the topic I hated most. The stupid "Indian captaincy is the hardest job in the world" discussion. Richie quietly interrupted a pedantic Tony and said "Captaining India is as easy as captaining Australia provided you are winning". Tony shut up and said "you know what! that's a very wise statement and I agree". Ian Chappell for a change is not barking at Saurav that much. Even Saurav's bad Azhar-like habit of not grounding his bat evoked only a mild rebuke. Some commentators are interesting. At the end of Day 1, when the stupid media was unnecessarily harping about how Australia was finally challenged Tony said "Look! I don't want to pass a judgement on the 343 until I've seen India bat. I'll wait until I see them bat".

17 comments:

Gads said...

They have a new technology called 'hotspot' which traces the thermal changes on a batsman's bat/body to observe nicks.

Hotspot has been around for sometime now.

When teams other than India tour Australia, it is Channel 9's coverage that we get on Star Sports. But we do not get the lunch time show and the show after the day's play. Thanks to meek surrender by most teams, I don't watch matches played down under.

Ian Chappel and Slater are also on Star Cricket. Infact, Ian was around when India toured England few months back.

Anonymous said...

The Channel 9 team has always been fantastic.My favorites are Ian Chappel and Richie Benaud.Most Indian commentators are pathetic but I think Harsha is awesome and Gavaskar and Manjrekar are pretty good. If you think they are bad,wait until you listen to Aamir Sohail.

I like the idea of Sehwag replacing Yuvraj in the XI to open with Jaffer and everybody else batting in their normal positions.If playing Yuvraj is that important then drop Dhoni(ya ya i know he's the vice captain).I don't think he's indispensable at the test level.Karthik is a good enough keeper and can do one thing that Dhoni can't and do it well-open.He was successful with the bat in SAF and Eng and I don't see any reason why he can't do an adequate job in Australia.Dravid should bat at No.3.Period.

Gasquet Fan said...

I love Tendulkar, everyone else can go to hell. If you are in Australia, you must show yourself and have a hit with me in tennis.

I said...

harsha bhogle is a big sodha. avana poi ethi udaraye.

Karthik Sriram said...

Man, the main problem with the gab-team arose with useless dabba channels like Sony Setmax, Ten Sports and 10 other "gulla" supporters nadathum TV channels jumping in to broadcast cricket....

Manjrekar thollai cricinfo liyum thodarudhu... avanai yaravadhu koluthungapppa!


LKS

rajs said...

As much as I like the channel 9 team, I think they're very very biased. They start picking on the Indian team at the slightest of opportunity. Though Ian comes up with very good observations, he has to talk about it every single time he gets his chance. For eg, with the bowling doing much better than what he expected and the batting doing that much worse. He mentioned it in his column, and voiced it atleast 4 times in the last 2 days. Barring Ian, Richie and occasionally Bill, others are mediocre. Slater is the worshhhtt. He keeps talking about his playing days and glorifying every single ball bowled by the Australians. Ian Healy is as bad as Fernando, Ramiz Raja, Robin Jackman in being biased. It is their nice accent and fluency which makes people develop a liking.
They don't even give India a chance.

PS: Maybe I'm just frustrasted with the Indian batting.

Anonymous said...

Bharath,

I think the whole channel 9 team is over-rated and over-glorified... the coverage is absolutely fantastic... no doubt... but these guys are just masters of hype..

Richie benaud to me looks like a ponam out of sudugadu.. he speaks like a skunt.. a senile old man who is deprived of his pension.. Tony greig is just over-excited. Healy is facking biased. Slater is just an amateur. To me Mark Taylor and Ian Chappel are decent but they tend to show their aussie bias when aussies start losing.

it's always better to have two commentators from two teams.. so that the bias level is equal... to me the the best commentators i have come across is David Lloyd aka "bumble", he is not biased, Ian Bishop is Very good and knowledgable although his accent and voice can put you to sleep.. I think Shivaramakrishnan is quiet under-rated, he does a good job.. all the rest are just one big biased skuntholes....

you are entitled to disagree as slater says...

- Ganesh

Anonymous said...

I had high expectations for Channel 9, but I was hugely disappointed.

The coverage was hugely unprofessional - the replays of boundaries, appeals were not immediately shown in several occasions, there were some uncoordinated transmission starts making the presenters look foolish, and finally, there was a bit of Aussie bias ..

there were certainly other positives, but I had definitely expected much more.

In comparison with the NFL or NBA coverage, I would give Channel 9 a 'C'.

-SR

Rakesh said...

ganesh,

just because you can express opinions don't mean they hae to be nonsense. Is Benaud's physical appearance a topic of discussion here?

Anonymous said...

Ganesh,

With no due respect at all, even my vaandhi will look better than your comment. Cha ...

Anonymous said...

Rakesh,

Relax, I dunno why getting excited abt RB's appearance.. maybe i should have refrained from posting that...but honestly he does look like it... so no hard feelings.. and that is my opinion...

Anon,

why don't you just comment on the article and not my comment..or for the best part not comment at all...

Bharath,

sorry dude if i'm hogging some attention on your post. i hope you dont mind... ;-)

- Ganesh

raj said...

hawkeye, i dont know if i would eulogise Ch 9 Commentators so much.
Firstly, Ian Chappell rebuked Gavaskar for the "Drop yuvraj or laxman for Sehwag" comment? Well, Sunil actually wasn't original - he picked this idea from Ian's column in an Indian newspaper. So, Ian Chappell should actually be blamed for this idea, if blame needs to be apportioned. Not that dropping Yuvraj or Jaffer for Sehwag or Karthik is a bad idea. Pretty much Slow track bullies the former two while Karthik has actually done better in bouncing pitches in SA and seaming ones in England. Sehwag is as much a gamble as Yuvraj and it is difficult to see why it would be stupid to make the change - IMO, either of them in the eleven is fine, the impact would still be the same for India
Ian pretty much is another hypocrite - he spoke about how it is Australian culture to distribute home truths at the Breakfast table yet one never hears any adverse comments from him on his brother's disastrous coaching career. OTOH, in the much derided Indian culture where apparently "blood is thicker than water and even water is so thick that once you do someone a favour, they owe you back for life", a certain Snehashish openly criticises a certain Saurav in Newspaper columns. So much for Aussie 'commitment to ideals' and 'speak it like it is" culture! To this date, have you ever heard Ian blaming his brother for anything? If a pommie had coached India with the same style as Greg Chappell, I am sure we would have heard a whole lot of stuff from Ian on that!

OTOH, I do agree that it is more comfy to hear these guys' comments than the inanities distributed in plenty by Shastri ( who will probably say out of habit "Anil Kumble is a tall man" when Daniel Vettori is bowling to Alastair Cook!BTW, what's tallness got to do with bowling ability? Why do people hark to tallness when describing bowling ability?).

So, my take would be is Channel Nine Commentary
a) Interesting? Yes
b) Unbiased? No

Take Michael Slater. When, for example, Brett Lee appeals for a caught behind, and the umpire turns it down, our man says "Brett Lee has heard the nick, Adam Gilchrist has, Ricky Ponting has. But the umpire hasn't". Yeah, so our man has an exclusive mike in Lee's and Gilchrist's ears so he could hear what the latter hear or not!
Slater is definitely in the same category as another Indian opener who was an opener of a similar style as Slater. You dont need me to mention his name.

Healy might be good though I reserve my judgement for now.

Richie Benaud is good, too. Mentioning Ian Chappell in the same breath, is, IMO, slanderous.

BTW, amen to the Dhoni comment by anon. But he will be retained. And who knows, he might score a big 80 off 77 balls in Sydney. He has 8 chances in this tour and it is highly likely that he will score big atleast once. And that will keep him in the team for another few years. (He scored a swashbuckling 95 in Sydney, how can you drop him will go the refrain - never mind that in 7 other innings
he got a cumulative 95)

How can anyone drop Dhoni? The sponsors will rip N Srinivasan, Niranhan Shah and Lalit Modi apart. No way man!

Hawkeye said...

gads,

i used to watch almost every test match (that was telecasted in star) played down under in the 90s. especially when RSA, Eng and WI toured.

As i said this decade I havent had much of a chace to see ch 9.

anon,

i am with you about karthik,

gasquet,

agree with you about sachin. will certainly look you up when im in australia. i was supposed to be there early 2007.


I,

he is very balanced. I like that. Not as biased as every other indian commentator.


LKS,

yes! I agree the new cricket channels have diluted quality.

rajs,

well! I think that should be the case. You should be actively critical of bad plays. Indians did bowl better and bat badly.

ganesh,

you are a bit off the point. physical appearnce is not the point here. and you should look beyond it. infact that should have never been a consideration when you hear commentary. an old richie benaud can still be a fantastic commentator and he is.

Plus I think aussie commentators are less biased than indian commentators.

SR,

agree with you partly. But the commentary standards for any US sport is just abysmal. I usually mute the TV during games.

Raj,

Dropping Laxman against Australia under any circusmtance in this series is stupid. Ian never suggested that. Sunny did. Picking Sehwag over karthik also defies common sense.

regarding chappels, you make too many assumptions. I am not convinced greg was the only one to be blamed. I actually thought dropping ganguly was a good idea. Ian did criticise greg in his cricifino column for not adjusting with the indian culture. Ian has concistently opposed the idea of a coach. I have read his book chappell on chappell and he says this almost every second sentence. What snehashish did was also not very smart. so in effect i disagree with every point you make on this issue.

regarding bias. i think aussie commentators are significantly less biased than any indian commentator around. plus indians are used to the commentaor taking the indian POV blatantly that its a rude sock when channel 9 comentators dont. so the feeling of bias is sharpened. Ian is less biased to aus than sunny is towards india.

raj said...

hawkeye, I concur with you on the last part - the bias factor is less with Ian Chappell and Richie Benaud compared to Sunil Gavaskar or Sidhu. But thats hardly saying anything. Thats like saying that Ajith is better than Vijay.Ok, maybe not that bad, maybe Surya better than Vijay :-). What I am sure of is Ian Chappell is not the Kamal Hassan(within the context of this comparison) you are portraying him to be.
But I would say the rest of the ch 9 team could easily be replaced by English-versions of Arun Lals. And Ravi Shastri isnt so much biased as lazy, incompetent and stupid. And Aussie Umpires!! Did you see Symonds 162/4 innings? (Third Aussie Umpire ruled out a clear stumping and the incompetent English umpire on the field not to forget the senile bukcnor did the rest for Australia!)

Coming to the team selection, I dont see what defies logic in Sehwag's or Yuvraj's or Dhoni's selection over Karthik. They can sell more colas and bikes than Karthik. End of argument.
Same holds for Harbhajan vs Murali Kartik. :-). Why is Bhajji in the team? What has he done in recent past?

I am not convinced Greg Chappell is the angel he projects himself to be. I dont think he dropped Ganguly thinking that the latter would iron out his flaws and come out better prepared. That was just personal whim.Greg Chappell is a clear mercenary who would make money in India, go back to Australia, then complain about Indian culture, and then come back to India for more money and now deny the comments he made.E nough said. If anyone else had done this, Ian Chappell wouldnt have maintained a diplomatic silence on the issue.Ok, leaving aside his general competence as a commentator, I would have expected the 'holy cow', 'Aussie Culture educated' Ian to bellow some home truths to his brother on this issue .
Okay, lets put this clear. I have issues with the Chappels posturing as 'idealistic' upholders of Cricketing 'Culture' and 'turthfulness', 'honesty' ("we distribute truth with the morning breakfast" - implying what?)etc while you can expect only chaos and dishonesty from native jhonnies. Granted, Greg is mroe guilty of this than Ian. But just imagine Ian Botham in Greg's place and imagine what sort of comments Ian Chappell would have passed then - one article in Cricinfo mildly criticising his brother doesnt absolve him of not taking cognisance of his brother's major goof-ups. Afterall, this is a man who has resorted to uncharacteristic hyperbole in criticising John Buchanan. (My daughter would have done better..thats so uncharacterstically hyperbolic from Ian). So, why does he maintain a silence on most issues related to Greg's tenure in India. If you watched the World Cup commentary, you would have seen how he was defensive about his brother's tactics, his attitude, and never ever criticised his brother and always subtly tried to shift the blame on the dressing room etc. I dont know how you can quote one cricinfo article in which too he just said "greg didnt adjust to indian culture" and cooly say that Ian has been unbiased on this issue. Blood is thicker than water, whether it is Aussie blood or Indian blood and Ian is guilty of proving this.

And you cannot deny that Greg's pathetic man-management skills ended up alienating a talented dressing room and stifling their talents. This doesnt reflect nicely on the dressing room either but to absolve Greg of blame is not objective. And this is not the first time. His stint with a Sheffield Shield side ended up in similar mess. Greg was a pied piper who took Indian board for a ride and ensured his financial future. And is still doing it.On top of it, he accused Ganguly of being a mercenary. To me, he is the biggest mercenary of all. (BTW, my surname is not Mukherjee or Basak or Pal, just in case.). Ungalai maadhiri pakka thamizhan dhaan.

raj said...

As we speak, the ICC double standards are in action again - I suppose you dont want to be identified with the jingoists so you kind of tilt in the oppsoite direcrtion and avoid questioning any bias from the other side to try and get a label of 'objective' person. But it does take objectiveness to point out the stupidity of summoning only Harbhajan and charging him while Symonds was also involved in the altercation. I wonder what the Ch 9 commentators had to say on that and what you have to say on that?
Also, I found an article by an Australian that beautifully sums up Aussie double standards.

Summary: We all know Arun Lals of the world are biased and stupid - the Indian ex-player community and most of the 'fan's community deservedly holds a reputation for whingeing and beign unfair. But some people like you , just to show that you are different from this whingeing gang, tend to forgive the equal and opposite bias of the Aussies and English commentators etc.
One thing that can be said for sure is that the ICC refereeing framework tends to favour the white nations more - ample proof is available if you analyse the bans, the fines copped by playerrs over the past few years. It would be curious if you claimed that only Asian nations indulged in slow over rate, disgraceful behaviour, dissent etc thats why they have copped more fines and bans.

raj said...

Thambi hawkeye, if someone posts a vague stupid comment like "Aussies cheat, tehy are thieves", then you jump on that and answer it with glee with a justified , rational-sounding, infact, rational, "Why do you say so?".Good. Konjam specific-aa questions ektta, you maintain silence. Why?
Let me ask a few questions:
1. Do you think Aussies are not bullies who will kick but will not tolerate when someone - not so much kicks but flails his leg in their direction as Bhajan did?
2. Dont you think Ponting is a sissie who couldnt answer a specific question so went ballistic "Who gave you a visa? You question my integrity and you are still here?". Ofcourse he didnt say exactly that but the implication and his sense of injury and his attitude towwards the Indian press(not because of their incompetence, which we cannot deny, but because of their merely being Indians -would he dare say the same thing if an English journalist asked the same question?
3. Why do you feel an urge to defend the Aussies even when they have gone overboard like in this test? Why all the talk about "keeping things within ground" and then going to the match referee when someone sledged them back? I agree Bhajan is a stupid sardar who gave Aussies ammunition to take the moral high ground where none exists but does tht justify the Aussie brazenness in hidning the pumpkin of their stupid, behavioour on the field. My spellings are going awry - forgive that I dont want to spend time changing that in a coomenet box.
Michale Clarke waiting after Dravid took a catch several inches off ground - how arrogant was that?

4. Now, my numbers are going awry too but I am not going to bother about that while typinh in a comment box. Ok, without doing a karunanidhi like "Andha kaalathula mgr pannadha thappa naan pannittaen", can you explain the Aussies' behaviour in this test? I have no problems with their not walking, claiming spurious catches etc - even Indians do that. Dhoni did that and Bhajji in particular I would never trust to be honesst - but the way they claim "we play in spirit of cricket, nobody else does", especially Ponting. Do you subscribe to that also? Now, my grammar is going for a toss. Never mind.
Why dont you make a post that would ignore stupid Indian responses and address this issue of Aussie Cricket team's arrogant behaviour more balancedly. I am not arguing that we are angels and they are devils but surely you arent going to say that "ponting's boys are angels and Indians and Indian supporters are devils"?

raj said...

One important point is Indians and other South Asians get PUNISHED for any misdemeanour. And I do think if Bhajan made a racial abuse, he should be punsihed irrespective of the provocation. But why is it that no English or Aussie player ever gets punishment unless like Lehmann he is stupid enough to get caught absolutely red handed. Remember that there wasnt much proof against Harbhajan this time. The point is with Asians, a sniff of a charge is enough while with White nations, you need a mountain of proof to convict them. This has been happening with ICC for long yet these guys claim actions against Hair etc are racially motivated. Like someone pointed out, once Justin Langer praised VVS Laxman, when after winning toss for India A, he politely asked Steve Waugh what he wants to do. When someone moves from this path of deference, they have a problem. Do you subscribe that we should be poodles so that they like us? Much as I love VVS, if thats true, I really have to despise that behaviour.