When John Arlott did his last Test match commentary during the Lord’s Centenary Test in 1980, the players of both sides joined the crowd in turning to the commentary box to applaud.
It’s hard to imagine any of the players doing that for the commentators during the IPL. Much of the commentary has been crass and far from enlightening.
Arlott, known to many Englishmen, as ‘the voice of the summer.’ He had a way with words. For example, the picture he conjured of Clive Lloyd pulling a ball into the Mound Stand at Lord’s in 1975 as “The stroke of a man knocking a thistle top off with a walking stick” is a classic.
Or him telling us that: “Bill Frindal has done a bit of mental arithmetic with a calculator.”
Brian Johnston was another great.
When asked about Test Match Special, Brian would say that it was “just a bunch of friends going to a Test Match and talking about it.”
Isn’t that what we all want commentators to do: to talk about a game and tell us things we don’t know. To educate us, to make us laugh and sometimes even make us cry. Show us places we’ve never been to, take us down memory lane and present before us heroes who will shine like stars in the darkest of nights.
Instead, we have commentators — Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri, Rameez Raja, Danny Morrison, Sanjay Manjrekar, L Sivaramakrishnan, Robin Jackman, Kepler Wessels and more — all reduced to selling us stuff like door-to-door salesmen.
Is that what they should be doing? Even Richie Benaud tries to sell stuff while on air. But he just doesn’t make it as obvious.