A COMMENTATOR has the ability to bring any sport to life with their use of language, descriptive skills, analysis, energy and even a sense of humour.
After former Australian fast bowler Glenn McGrath was dismissed in an international match, the late Australian commentator Richie Benaud, regarded as one of the best ever, said, “And Glenn McGrath dismissed for two, just 98 runs short of his century.”
The English quartet of John Arlott, Brian Johnston, Henry Blofeld and Tony Greig are also highly rated among the best cricket commentators.
Tony Cozier and Joseph 'Reds' Perreira are legendary West Indies commentators who have paved a way for other regional commentators such as Michael Holding, Ian Bishop, Fazeer Mohammed, Jeffrey Dujon and Daren Ganga. Barbadian Donna Symmonds broke down barriers when she became the first woman to cover Test cricket in the West Indies during the series between West Indies and Pakistan in 1988. Women are now heard regularly during matches with Isa Guha and Alison Mitchell (England), Melanie Jones and Lisa Sthalekar (Australia), and Anjum Chopra (India) among those commentating in major tournaments.
Indian sports commentator Ravi Chaturvedi, 82, has written 23 books and his 24th will focus on the art of commentary called Cricket Commentary and Commentators sponsored by Trinity Mirror. Some of his previous books are Millennium's Greatest Indian Cricketers, The Complete Book of West Indies-India Test Cricket and World Cup Cricket. His latest book is already complete and is expected to be available in the coming months. The cover of the book has images of Benaud, Arlott, Cozier and Chaturvedi and features commentators from all corners of the world.
Chaturvedi, on his seventh visit to TT, spoke to Newsday about the art of commentary during the third One Day International between West Indies and India at the Queen's Park Oval, earlier this month.
Chaturvedi, a former Zoology lecturer at Delhi University in India, says commentators should have certain abilities to reach the top of their profession.
"The prerequisite for a commentator is to have played a game at some level because if you have played at club level, college level (or) any level of cricket you know the intricacies, the inside out of the game (and) you will be able to understand.
"The other important thing is he should have the language. He must be able to play with the language and the words."
Chaturvedi first came to TT in 1976 and was amazed by the energy of the crowd.
In the match between West Indies and India, Chris Gayle played one of his many destructive innings and with the rain around Chaturvedi said it was an opportunity to use creative descriptions. "Today we talked about Chris Gayle so I said...'It is a Gayle storm.' You should be able to play with the words because that makes it interesting."
Chaturvedi says having a unique voice can also help your appeal as a commentator. "Then you should have the voice, you do need a voice because as long as you don't have the voice you would not be able to charm the listeners."
The Indian author, who started commentating in 1961, encouraged commentators to study the history of cricket.
Chaturvedi, who said Benaud and Arlott are among the best commentators, gave his opinion on some of the best West Indian commentators. "I will put Tony Cozier in the same category (as those men). He was very high, very intelligent, good voice of course (with) the West Indian accent – sing song style."
Chaturvedi, who has respect for multi-sport commentator Dave Lamy, gave his thoughts on TT's current crop of commentators.
"Among the younger lot who I am hearing these days there are two whom I like. One is Fazeer Mohammed, I am quite impressed with Fazeer. In the last few years Fazeer is an established commentator in the Caribbean who is liked not only by me. I have talked to a cross section of people here...he is very knowledgeable, he is unbiased, his comments are very crisp.
"The last few years when I have been coming here there is a young journalist who has been emerging here. His voice, his expression, his command of the language...Vinode Mamchan is also coming up very well."