Here, for the very first time, I am revealing the guaranteed formula which can make you into a successful cricket commentator. When all of you become rich and famous on the TV doing commentaries and commercials for toupees, diwali crackers and other goodies, remember you read it here first, and that you owe your prosperity to your uncle here – as an ex ad agency man, I lay claim to 15% of your earnings from now on. Strictly cash, no cheques, no major or minor credit cards, mind it!
After having watched and suffered live commentary for some decades, I have figured out the formulae, which are being laid here before your feasting eyes for the first time:
You must repeat exactly what the viewer can see. If the viewer can see that the batsman came on to his front foot and drove the ball through the covers, that’s exactly what you must say. You must assume that the man sitting in front of the TV screen is blind, and if he does have some vestigial eyesight, he has no brains anyway. So, you must tell him what he has just seen. If Brett Lee has just bowled a bouncer, you must say he has just bowled a bouncer.
Having mastered step 1, you are now permitted to add your adjectives or appreciative noises to the remarks you’d made in step 1. These adjectives or noises can be added as prefixes or suffixes to your description. For example, let’s take the case already mentioned – a batsman came on to his front foot and drove the ball through the covers. You are permitted to add “Top shot!” as a prefix, or “beautiful” as a suffix. You can of course interchange their positions – “Beautiful” can be used as a prefix, if you so desire. We are not hidebound in our rules.
Master the lingo. The rules of the Guild of Cricket Commentators are very strict in the use of language. The jargon and the clichés have been cast in stone for decades, and new jargon and clichés are added once in nineteen years, when the meeting of the Grand Wazoos and Drones take place at Stonehenge on a moonlit night in the Winter Solstice – bloody oaths are taken amidst drinking of massive bumpers, and new words and phrases are permitted to enter the Cricket Commentators’ Lexicon.
So, don’t go about thinking you can add your own stuff. Memorize what’s written below, and wait for the new edition of the Lexicon, which is to be published in 2020 in the current era.
What follows is merely a very brief excerpt from the Lexicon. Buy the original edition; you can’t lose by it.
If you wish to describe that the shot is a very good one, the current preferred choices are:
- Top shot
- You beauty!
- That’s a cracker!
If you wish to say that the batsman has hit the ball hard without the fuss of footwork, use one of the following:
- Stand and deliver!
- He used the bat as a bludgeon
- He dismissed the ball from his presence (this is the elegant version – Neville Cardus used this phrase to describe how A C Maclaren hit some poor fellow for a boundary, when the blighted bowler had the temerity to serve up a short pitched ball. If you use this, a few people in the audience will believe that you actually can read anything besides your contract, and that you may indeed have some passing acquaintance with cricket literature)
If the batsman is probably out, but it’s not immediately clear, use the following:
- That will be close! That wiiiiill beeeeee close!!
- Ooooooooooooohhhhhhhh! I think he’s gone (you have to say this with hesitation, since the matter has gone to the third umpire, and you don’t want to state your conclusion and be proven wrong by the third plug-ugly of an umpire)
- The batsman was always struggling there
- Was there an edge? Was there an edge???
- The line belongs to the umpire! (This is a curious sentence. I have visions of each of the umpires rolling up one line at the end of day’s play every day, putting it carefully into the boot of his car, handing it over reverently to his wife at home in the evening, the wife yelling “You’ve gone and messed it up again! How many times have I told you to keep it clean! I have wasted my youth..blah..blah…- you know how wives are. Next morning, the daughter wakes up early, reverently takes the line from where it was drying overnight, she irons the line, and folds it up nicely – daddy’s got to take it to work in the morning and it doesn’t pay for the umpire to land up with a creased and messed up line)
If the batsman hits a ball for six, the following are permitted:
- It’s gone like a bullet!
- It’s gone like a tracer bullet!
- It’s gone miles!
- It’s gone many a mile!
- It’s gone a country mile!
This, of course, is just a primer. For full lessons, contact me offline for my six-week intensive course on becoming a cricket commentator. For long-term readers of this column, my terms will be easy.
If any carpers and cavillers ask me why I am not a successful cricket commentator myself, there are a few good reasons. First, nowadays, a cricket commentator is a very visible person – you have to appear before the camera, in ads, in game shows, in pre and post match shows, award ceremonies, etc. The first requirement for such a job is a modicum of good looks, which I sadly lack. My kind of beauty had been best described by the Bard of Dulwich – “the less you see of us, the better we look.”
Second, a commentator needs a good voice, with clear enunciation and good diction. I, on the other hand, have a voice which is far from good. On a good day, I sound like a Texan cowboy with adenoids who has been brought up, by some mischance, in the untamed wilds of Ballygunge, Kolkata. With my kind of voice, you just can’t win.
Finally, I couldn’t remember the whole Lexicon at crunch time . The last time I appeared before the Guild for an in vivo exam, I shouted “GOOOOOOOOOALLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!” when the first wicket fell, and the Grand Wazoos and Drones failed me on the spot.