Which bowler has captured 355 wickets in 111 Tests and 400 more in his 322 ODIs in 15 years spent in the international arena on both sides of the watershed year 2000? Here’s a helpful clue: he is a vassly experienced former Sri Lankan fass bowler, who has just opted out of coming to the region with Sri Lanka next month.
If you got Chaminda Vaas, congratulations. But CNC3 sports might disagree. On Friday, their 7pm news ticker tape identified him as ‘Chaminda Vass.’ Without apology and without correction for the duration of the newscast.
The day before, the television channel’s sister newspaper had had an embarrassing—for us, if not for them—episode of its own.
Off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall has broken into the top 50 in the International Cricket Council Test bowling rankings for the first time, runs the opening paragraph of a story in their sports pages, following his nine-wicket haul in the second Test against Bangladesh in Dhaka last weekend.
Off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall poses, runs paragraph two, following his Man-of-the-Match award at the end of the second Test in Dhaka.
No marks for figuring out what happened here. Someone removed the photo sent with the story—it appeared on the page—but failed to delete the caption.
Which raises the question of whether (s)he even bothered to read the story at all.
Things got no better on the weekend.
The Sunday Express’ back page headline was so inspired, one might compare it to the late Keith Smith’s classic 1981 ‘Licks inside, licks outside’.
NEUTRAL GROUND, it screamed.
And, on inside pages, although the names Daren Sammy and Joel Embiid appeared in the relevant stories, the respective headlines carried ‘Darren’ and ‘Embid.’
In the Sunday Guardian, there was this paragraph in Keith Clement’s story on the TTCF’s EGM, which clearly needs no comment:
However, a review of the constitution shown that in addition to the secret ballot process that is required, the constitution also prohibits electronic meetings for AGMs.
Elsewhere in the same paper, under the brilliant headline ‘The effects of raw emotion through sport,’ Shaun Fuentes’ column opens with this paragraph:
The current COVID-19 pandemic has had an immense effect on the sporting world at every level. With the postponement of the Olympics and other world events last year there has been a rippling effect on the industry and stakeholders are gradually beginning to catch back a path towards some forms of normalcy.
Fuentes, mind you, is described as ‘head of TTFA media’ and his Pro Look has been around uninterrupted since the 20th century. Unless things have changed, there’s a good chance that means his copy is unedited and that he writes his own headlines.
Having joined the media three decades ago, I remember being told then that ‘we don’t edit (Tony) Cozier.’ Really? Why on earth not, I wondered. The dean of West Indian cricket writers was arguably indispensable to West Indian cricket and indisputably produced excellent copy.
But infallible? Nah! Here’s a Cozier sentence culled from a story published during the last decade: At No 5 in the International Cricket Council rankings to England’s No 8, the result was not surprising.
And here, writing in one of the dailies around the same time, is newspaper columnist, educator and author Kevin Baldeosingh: Being a professional writer in this country, my budget does not stretch to paying $200 to go to a theatre production …
Sparrow can cite poetic license to explain away ‘Playing in class/with a lizard in a glass/the lizard get away from Ruth…’
KB? Not so much.
So professionals who opt not to read copy do so to their cost, whether the writer is Baldeosingh or Clement or Cozier or Fuentes.
Or, a fortiori, TTFA lobbyist Andre E Baptiste or hotshot Guardian cricket reporter Vinode Mamchan.
Professionalism—or unprofessionalism—is, of course, a major problem. Perhaps the real problem is a lack of understanding of what the word ‘professional’ really means.
Sports editors, it seems, stop at the first definition: ‘a person engaged in a specified action, especially a sport, as a main paid occupation rather than as a pastime.’
They don’t read on to see another bit: ‘a person competent or skilled in a particular activity.’
Take, for instance, Curtly Ambrose who, during the Super50 tournament, has consistently addressed Daren Ganga as ‘DG Ganga’. Unable to find any scorecard that showed a middle name or initial for the erstwhile WI opener, I realised Ambi was guilty of a common mistake.
How many times have you heard someone say ‘QRC College’ or talk about his/her ‘PIN number’?
But even nitpickers chuckle and move on, confident that, with ball in hand, Ambi is the ultimate pro, but on the TV he’s mere pinch-hitter.
When, however, replicating an error repeatedly heard on CNC3, Ganga says that ‘Shimron Hetmyer held out to Khary Pierre at long-off’, should your reaction be the same?
Professionalism requires that you not say something like that and not correct yourself. The late Trevor Farrell aptly called it ‘two-storey ignorance’, that is, not knowing that you do not know.
What often happens, in that case, is that you bat out of your crease, your hat, to mix my metaphors, hung much higher than you can reach.
It’s what ails the professional WI cricket commentator in Bangladesh who yet again offended many ears with his spontaneous, well-intentioned tribute: “Kraigg Brathwaite is a general of the highest proportions.”
The First Test was, he had said, ‘an achievement of magnanimous proportions’.
Towards the end of the Bangladesh Second Test second innings, he had insisted that Shannon ‘Gabriel needs to come into the attack imminently.’
Okay. So you do find that adverb in the dictionary. But what makes it a better option than ‘shortly’ or ‘before long’ or ‘asap’?
On TV? Please!
Why do you think it’s called the idiot box?