By Karthik Parimal
The quality of television production in cricket depends not only on the cameramen or the number of cameras and the type of equipment used, but also in the quality of commentators. The ongoing Test series between India and England contains a few top commentators in the field of cricket - alongside some ordinary ones - who have been chosen to liven up an intense battle. It is often said that the commentators either make or break a broadcast. The best commentators of yesteryear were not necessarily cricketers. However, barring a few, all good commentators today are top cricketers.
It was wonderful to see Nasser Hussain and Sourav Ganguly, two of the most aggressive captains and players until a few years ago, team-up in the commentary box. Ganguly and Nasser were outspoken cricketers. Nasser seems to have carried that flair into the commentary box as he injects frankness, sarcasm and an interestingly unique point of view to every situation in his commentary. Ganguly is still a rookie in his newly-chosen field. It will however be exciting if he brings in a bit of 'dadagiri' to the commentary box the near future.
On the other hand, Sunil Gavaskar's commentary isn't as flamboyant. A truly great cricketer, he isn't as entertaining as Michael Holding or dramatic like Tony Greig. He is prone to clichés which adds to the dullness. Unlike Nasser, he also lacks neutrality and is sometimes biased in his views.
Ravi Shastri, too, at times tends to get monotonous, but at least there is a sense of drama in his commentary that manages to keep the viewer intrigued and interested.
It is true that every commentator has a style that distinguishes him from the rest and surely Wasim Akram is one such commentator who has made good use of his on-field experience and knowledge in the commentary box. Although Akram doesn't pace himself very well, he doesn't use repetitive phrases and his analysis and point of view is easily understandable to the average viewer.
Another respected and immensely famous commentator for this series is Harsha Bhogle. He began commentating from a very young age and is easily one of the best commentators from India. He not only has an excellent academic background but also tremendous knowledge of the game. His comments are innovative, sometimes funny and worth listening to. He is spontaneous, witty and his metaphors are apt. Whenever he takes his seat in the commentary box, it appears as though the tempo of the game has suddenly increased. With his enthusiasm and zest, he manages to keep the viewers engrossed at all times.
This probably is the best commentary team. Harsha Bhogle and Nasser Hussain are definitely the best among the current lot and it is fascinating how they get across their point and constantly keep drawing the attention of the listeners.
With England leading this current series against India, some high-quality cricket in the next three Tests is assured as India will definitely look to bounce back and stamp their authority and it will be all the more entertaining to watch for television audience thanks to the presence of these charismatic top-class commentators.
(If cricket is a religion and has many devotees, Karthik Parimal would be a primary worshipper. This 23 year old graduate student, pursuing his Masters in Engineering, could be an appropriate example of how the layers of what inspires, motivates and keeps one happy run deeply in our daily lives. He, unlike others, is not too disappointed about not making it big by playing for the country, but believes that he plays the sport every day with his heart by watching and writing on it)