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