April 2015, and TV cricket commentary legend Richie Benaud has passed away at the age of 84. Warm tributes poured in, and my immediate thought of Benaud was that some of today's TV shouters could learn a thing or two from him...
I grew up watching a lot of Benaud, covering the test matches on the BBC, long before the days when cricket succumbed to the money dangled by commercial channels.
I enjoyed his languid style, his laid back wit, and I learnt a lot about the game from someone who clearly knew his stuff.
It was only as I was older that I learnt a basic principle that Benaud used to underpin his commentary work, and as soon as I heard him say it, you could tell it was something he had always used. It was this...
Make sure that what you say *adds* to what can already be seen. If it doesn't add anything, then shut up!
Simple, but effective.
That meant that when he did say something, there was wit, warmth and knowledge in it, and it felt like a conversation.
Oh, how some of today's TV shouters could learn from that! Don't get me wrong, there are some fine broadcasters at work today, but there seems to be an ever increasing number of those that feel the need not only to shout, but to do so over anyone commentating with them.
That shouting often overtakes the concentration, which leads to mistakes in the actual calling of the sport. Benaud would *not* have approved!
So, how about some examples..?
Well, I like Andrew Cotter. He seems equally at home doing rugby, golf, tennis or athletics. His gentle Scottish lilt helps, in the same way that Benaud's Aussie twang helped, but Cotter has huge knowledge about these sports, and that allows him to be conversational in his work. He also has the wit to bring a smile to the viewer, well, to this viewer at least.
Speaking of rugby, there's Jonathan Davies. A world class player in both the union and league codes of the game, he also brought a fun warmth and knowledge when he went into commentating. Unfortunately over the last few years, he has developed a habit of shouting "TRY TIME", or "SPACE OUT LEFT", crashing over the commentator.
It seems to be the modern way, but I don't like it. Football is the worst, where more and more the set up seems to be to get as many pundits together as possible, and see who can shout the loudest over each other.
Personally it leaves me hankering for the good old days, the gentler art of the commentator. The likes of Cotter show it can work just as well today as it's always done, so why can't more of today's shouters take a leaf out of the book of one of the acknowledged greats, Richie Benaud.
Do you agree..?
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