1. The constant need to say something. A commentator feels he is not doing his job if he allows even a moment of silence to pass. Hence I once heard a radio commentator say, “Mohammed Amir is running in and his shadow is running in with him.”
2. Commentary as PR. Did you know the match is being sponsored by Pepsi? That the batsmen is chewing Wrigley’s gum? And the fielder just opened a packet of GoGo pan masala?
3. Barely disguised patriotism. Commentators are meant to be disinterested observers, neutrally surveying the action. But once their team is on the field they will be more nationalistic than Hitler.
4. Saying the obvious. “The ball has gone to the boundary. That means the batsman has got four runs.” Even my four-year-old cousin is more insightful than that.
5. Sexism: This applies to both cameramen and commentators. Whenever there is a break in the action the camera wanders in the general direction of a pretty woman. The commentator sniggers and then utters a remark that belongs to the 19th century.
6. Reliance on cliché. Sachin Tendulkar could lightly tap a ball which reaches the boundary thanks to a mis-field and Ravi Shastri would say “The ball was traveling like a tracer bullet.”
7. Mystifying variations in volume. “And that is another SIXXX!!”
8. The pre-match interviews. There is nothing more cringe-inducing than a commentator asking the captain if he’s confident, ready to go and geared up for the match. Has any player ever said, “No, I really don’t feel too good about this one”?
9. The post-match interviews. Actually, this might be even more painful. The losing captain walks up and the commentator, usually faking an expression of sympathy, asks, “Well, what went wrong out there?” The answer is always that the other team was better but the commentators expect something different.
10. Finding a woman commentator is about as hard as finding an articulate, interesting male commentator.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, July 10th, 2011.
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