If the Australian cricket selectors choose different teams for different formats, then why can’t Channel Nine?

Despite moments like these, cricket's TV ratings are getting the thumbs down. Photo:AP.

The cricketing summer is officially got underway in Perth last night as Sri Lanka defeated Australia in a one-sided Twenty20 encounter.

Whilst vastly popular, cricket has traditionally been a gentlemen’s game. 

More colour, bigger hits, and faster matches - the Twenty 20 format is looking to broaden cricket’s reach towards newer, younger fans.
And more fans they desperately need.

An article yesterday revealed that cricket’s TV audiences are in decline. Not only has there been a reduction in Test cricket ratings, but also one day matches and even Twenty20 audiences are their lowest in the formats brief 6 year history.

It’s easy to blame the sport, but what about the middle men – the team that bring the game from the ground into our living rooms?

World cricketing administrators have changed the game’s formats. This has resulted in selectors changing teams to suit these new formats. Yet Channel Nine still presents the same old boring commentary outfit as it did in 1993.

Besides keeping busy at my current post as editor of La Trobe’s online publication Upstart Magazine, I’m also writing a thesis in finance and mathematics at Swinburne University. Using these numerical skills, I’ve analysed the stats from last night’s game.

71% of people watching the cricket want to be entertained.

Of the rest, 13% are cricketing diehards egging on the Australian team. 11% are bored girlfriends wishing they had channel changing privileges while the final 5% have lost their TV remotes and have been stuck on nine since Jamie Durie’s final episode of Backyard Blitz in 2007.

For the majority, cricket - like other spectator sport - is a form of entertainment. Someone must have realised this, as we’ve previously had the likes Nat Bassingthwaite and Jessica Mauboy playing pop music between innings.

If this entertainment trend continued into the commentary box, we certainly wouldn’t have to put up with Tony Greig. 

Sure, Greig might be knowledgeable about the history of cricket, but his stories of classic matches from the 60’s are probably better told over a $2.30 pints at the local RSL, rather than on prime time television.

99% of the audience will never play cricket for Australia.

I don’t know who and I certainly don’t know why. But at some stage, someone has told cricketing commentators that it was their job – via their commentary – to educate the next generation of Australian international cricketers.

Is anyone else sick of hearing Mark Tubby Taylor say, “Now you see kids, that’s why it’s really important to keep that front elbow up”. Who cares? The only person with a raised elbow should be Nine’s program director when missing his axe.

One of the most highly-regarded commentators in the land Australian rules football caller, Dennis Cometti.

He knows how to operate the commentary box. He tells his audience what’s happening on the field, and throws in some wit and humour to keep the call fresh and entertaining. It’s a simple formula but at this stage, not simple enough for the Nine’s cricket commentary team.

100% of Nine’s commentators and ‘experts’ have never played Twenty20 cricket.

If the cricket media decides to stick with the conservative, informative and knowledge transferring type of commentary, it may still work. However, being a new format only a select few have played the newer, faster Twenty20 game.

Matt Hayden, Adam Gilchrist and Shane Warne have all played recently in the Indian Premier League, and are all capable in front of a microphone. Even comments and opinions from a young up-and-comer who has Twenty20 experience may be valuable.

But on last night’s call, not a single commentator telling us about the game had ever played Twenty20 cricket. So when Nine’s own website tells us to ‘join your expert commentary team for all the fast-paced action’, we need to question just how ‘expert’ this team is.

64% of people were asking, where is James Brayshaw?

After a decade as a semi successful state cricketer, Brayshaw moved into media. His first national radio spot was as the sports presenter on Triple M’s The Cage.

He became known for his humorous, entertaining and brash opinions and his frequent tinge of inappropriateness, while still being your everyday bloke. It was these characteristics that allowed Brayshaw to move from the sports reader, to a headline member of The Cage, to now being part of channel nine’s on air royalty.

He has the necessary cricketing knowledge for the job but more importantly – he knows how to entertain an audience. Something the current cricket commentary is severely lacking. Yet, he is nowhere to be scene between the months of October and March each year.

Cricket is already at the crossroads, with players and fans increasingly confused by the now four different formats. If the media can’t deliver an entertaining production, could be the beginning of the end for cricket as Australia’s number one summer sport?

Watch this space.

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33 comments

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    • DaisyDuke says:

      11:20am | 01/11/10

      I am a cricketing diehard and agree, they are a bunch of old fossils and have to be pushed off their perch.

      ABC Grandstand test commentary is 100 times better, I recommend watching channel 9 on mute with the radio on.

    • Phil says:

      12:09pm | 01/11/10

      I agree, but Channel Nine MUST fluff around with the timing of the broadcast, delaying it by a few seconds as to make putting to radio on instead quite annoying.

    • Justin says:

      01:40pm | 01/11/10

      It’s not fluffing around (except in Perth where I’m told they don’t show most of the cricket live), there’s simply an inbuilt delay in the digital processing & satellite bounces. You’ll usually find the digital TV broadcast around 3-4 seconds behind analogue radio. Digital radio is much closer, but to get it perfect you need a digital radio with inbuilt live pause (e.g. Pure One Classic).

    • iansand says:

      02:37pm | 01/11/10

      So if I listen to the ABC commentary on my digital radio everything should be back in sync.  The digital runs a second or two behing tanalogue transmission anyway (and I don’t know how that affects the six pip time signal).

    • iansand says:

      11:25am | 01/11/10

      They are actually playing to their audience.  The true joy of cricket is knowing more pointless trivia than the next bloke and bashing his ear interminably.

    • Dale says:

      11:26am | 01/11/10

      Best commentator is bill Lawry currently. Richie Benaud and In Chappel should be pensioned off along with healy and Taylor. Best line up should be:
      Nicholas
      Lawry
      Slater
      Warne
      Get Nasser Hussain over as a guest commontator
      Fleming
      Brayshaw

    • Macca says:

      01:43pm | 01/11/10

      Where’s Greg Blewett?! for shame

    • Jotun says:

      04:29pm | 01/11/10

      You mad? Nicholas, Slater and Fleming are to cricket commentary what Justin Bieber is to music.

      Better commentary lineup would be:
      Bill Lawry
      Brendan Julian
      Shane Warne
      James Brayshaw
      Ian Smith
      Michael Holding

      This would make Channel Nine’s broadcast colourful and interesting.

    • stephen says:

      11:28am | 01/11/10

      Yeah the production values of televized sport is in the dumps.
      There’s some shockers :
      dull commentators : Mark Taylor,(has he got mumps ?)
      Tony Greig - and ‘those yoongsters’.
      And AFL… we have the pelican, Andrew Maher.

      Tis a funny bird, the pelican.
      In his beak, can fit more food than his belly-can.
      He can eat all week,
      fit it in that beak,
      and I don’t know how the hell-he-can.

    • Justin says:

      11:32am | 01/11/10

      The solution for those in the mainland state capitals is quite simple - Grandstand Digital. Turn it up & turn down the gibberers on the TV.

      You just need to get past Justin Langer’s horrible bias towards the Australian team (as he is the batting coach) - apparently every out of form Aussie batsman is “creaming them in the nets” & is “just around the corner from a massive score”.

      Geoff Lawson’s impersonation of The Fonz when it comes to admitting he was w….w….wr…..wrong is a bit galling too, but hopefully the ABC won’t ship him beyond Sydney.

    • Macca says:

      11:34am | 01/11/10

      Nobody is asking where James Brayshaw is. He’s awful.

      And I like the technique stuff that Tubby spouts. Only intelligent stuff that ever comes out of that commentary box. Except for everything Richie says of course.

      Rest of the article was good value

    • Blazes says:

      11:51am | 01/11/10

      James Brayshaw? No, no, no, no NO! He has the most annoying manner of any commentator I have ever heard! Ryan, if Channel 9 bring him back as a result of your article, I will sue you!

    • Andy says:

      11:59am | 01/11/10

      Please, Brayshaw is torture. The commentators are almost the best thing about cricket, listening to them over the last couple of decades, they have become like old mates. Summer wouldn’t be the same without Richie, Chapelli, Tony Greg and co. The new blokes are ok, with Slats and Heals being particularly good.

    • Markus says:

      12:51pm | 01/11/10

      Slats, Heals and Warnie make up the greatest unrelated-to-the-game commentary team ever.
      Having them working in tandem with a team like Tony Greig, Mark Nicholas and either Taylor or Benaud was great - you get one session of knowledgable analysis followed by a session of hilariously irrelevant commentary about pies and speedo competitions.
      Perhaps not the ideal format for a T20 match though.

    • iansand says:

      02:39pm | 01/11/10

      Drop Kerry O’Keefe into the mix.

    • DMR says:

      12:11pm | 01/11/10

      Definitely agree with the T20 knowledge (or lack of it) of the Channel 9 ‘experts’.  It’s cringeworthy listening to them discuss tactics when it’s obvious to any IPL fan that these guys’ only interest in the T20 format is the handful of games the Aussies play each year - much like our current captain, unfortunately.

      And you can count me among the 36% who don’t care where James Brayshaw is as long as he’s not on TV.

    • Shifter says:

      05:22pm | 01/11/10

      And 57% of all statistics are made up on the spot!

    • Tarzan says:

      12:38pm | 01/11/10

      20 years ago you had the ODI Series when 5 teams would come out and all play each other for Benson and Hedges World Cup. That was a great summer of cricket. It lasted the whole summer season and everybody played each other. Today it lasts just a few raggedy games saturated with advertising, betting agencies and crazy prices and rules at the oval. You don’t even get to see the streakers anymore! I don’t bother anymore with cricket.

    • Axolotl Pluvius says:

      12:49pm | 01/11/10

      The cessation of commentary duties for Grieg and Ian Chappell is long overdue - the stairs should have been shown to both years ago. If ever men could inflict others with terminal cases of ennui it is these two. They are an abomination to the craft of cricket commentary.
      I am sure Greig and his key would find gainful employment in some soil aeration project and Chappell would be in demand as a keynote speaker at any Insomniacs Convention.

    • Joombi P O'Flaherty says:

      08:10pm | 02/11/10

      Absolutely agree on Chapelli, great player that he was and all. But in terms of commentating, he’s monotonously boring, his tales take at least an over to get to the end of, and he’s off topic more than he’s on it!

    • Edgar Pitriopa says:

      12:54pm | 01/11/10

      The comments from the online commentators at CRicket Australia’s website are better even if you have to read them whilst watching.

    • Fred Biblic says:

      01:20pm | 01/11/10

      All I’d ask is that commentators stop saying that a team won by x-number of wickets in a T20 match as this means absolutely nothing and doesn’t provide any insight into how close or not the game was.

    • smclennan@lycos.com says:

      03:55pm | 01/11/10

      absolutely right - if the team batting second wins the measure of victory should be by how many overs/balls to spare

      as for Channel 9, has there ever been a more embarrassingly bad sports presenter than Ken Sutcliffe?

    • Martin G says:

      04:22pm | 01/11/10

      20/20 hit-and-giggle is garbage and James Brayshaw is bloody annoying. Its clowns like the author that are trying to constantly change the game for the sake of ratings, money and fly-by-night ‘fans’, which is wrecking cricket.

      I must have forgotten that Mark Taylor and Ian Healy were commentating on the ‘same old tired team’ in 1993.

      Trust a La Trobe student to preach to everyone else what is best. Not every sport has to be Americanised to be good.

    • Pat Cannon says:

      07:52pm | 01/11/10

      Marty how can ‘fly by night fans’ be the ones ruining cricket? People want to be entertained and love to watch it. Purists (like myself) still prefer top class Test Cricket, however a clean hitting, fast moving game of T20 is very entertaining - and there is money to be made by the combatants, sponsors and administrators!
      Ryan is free to voice his opinion, good on him for going to La Trobe and furthering his education, I think if oyu read it he is being quite cynical with his statisical summary, a bit of a play on the commentary team perhaps!

    • Arnold Layne says:

      04:31pm | 01/11/10

      Why does the commentary team have to be ex-players?  Dennis Commeti wasn’t an elite football player.  Of the best TV commentators of recent years, Tony Cozier and Harsha Bhogle are both cricket writers/journos rather than ex-players.  Cricket seems to be the only sport that has all members of its commentary team from the former players’ union.  Why not an anchor who knows what he or she is doing who then draws opinion from the “expert”?

    • newnewshound says:

      10:31am | 02/11/10

      Having been worn down by the mind numbing drone of the Channel 9 commentators, I turned off the TV sound & listened to the ABC radio description more than a decade ago. Then 9 decided to delay the telecast by a couple of seconds just to thwart the simulcast effect. No problem, I just turned the picture off as well. They tell me Greig, Benaud & Lawry are still droning on, but I’m proud to say I haven’t heard a single syllable from them in years. Couldn’t agree more about Dennis Cometti. If cricket on 9 plans to survive into the coming decade, it needs to recruit a whole team of Comettis.

    • mt says:

      12:44pm | 02/11/10

      Fantastic article and I agree completely. Nine’s tired old format is surely losing them ratings. Add the tired old rugby league boofheads and WWOS is going downhill rather quickly. What they need is a tutorial from the ABC’s cricket commentary team! I also don’t understand why Warne - the second greatest cricketer this country has ever produced, isn’t behind the stumps. He is more than capable and and is extremely insightful. You missed one vital stat as well: Mark Nicholas has never played a Test and is about as interesting as Bassinthwaite and Mauboys music combined.

    • Soupietwist says:

      08:39am | 08/11/10

      Leave cricket to cricketers, and commentary to journalists and specialist presenters. I want someone to describe the game with whit and intelligence, but most importantly someone that can communicate and pronounce words. Therefore, that rules out M Taylor and most ex players. Plus I am unsure why there are 3 commentators describing a game surely only one can speak at a time-they need to look at how Football (soccer) has been broadcast in England and most countries over the last 50 years, one professional “communicator/commentator” describing what is actually occurring; not providing too much information as they understand that the audience are also watching the game and are able to make their own mind up on what is occurring in the match.

    • Jay says:

      03:04pm | 27/11/10

      yes get rid of chappel, tony greg, ritchie benaud, mark nicholas and bill lawry. All boring - yawn….....

    • al clark says:

      02:02pm | 26/12/10

      get one of then to ask Ponting how the “product” is looking now

    • speeddude66 says:

      09:44am | 25/08/11

      i recon ponting will do commentry for channel 9 in afew years

 

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