“[…] Who selects our commentators? What prerequisites should potential commentators have before qualifying as commentators, and being unleashed on the helpless listeners? Is a facility with the English language one of these prerequisites?”
The following Letter to the Editor on the standard of West Indies cricket commentary was submitted to Wired868 by Dancea Lipson:
It’s no fun listening to cricket commentary by the new crop of West Indian commentators. If you are a cricket fan your alternatives are to either tolerate the cringing and sustained attack on your sensibilities or watch the cricket on mute.
Just a few linguistic gems that come to mind:
- We saw him did that.
- Fine leg and short leg is up.
- He is a good debt bowler.
- Just short of a good lengtt.
- The bowler gave him too much witt.
- The feeler was not in the right position.
- Things have changed since the pandamic.
As if these offences were not grievous enough, we have also had to contend with the voice of a certain Curtly Ambrose, who does not fit the bill. Over in England Darren Sammy has been doing TV commentary on The Hundred (how did he get there?)—and he repeatedly talks about the ‘inning’, instead of innings. Hell, is it a West Indian thing?
These commentaries are listened to all over the world.
A few questions: who selects our commentators? What prerequisites should potential commentators have before qualifying as commentators, and being unleashed on the helpless listeners? Is a facility with the English language one of these prerequisites? Why do almost all of them seem to be coming from one particular Caribbean country?
Surely we can do much better, can’t we? I recall listening to commentary on the most recent series involving our women cricketers and being impressed by at least two of the commentators—one of whom, incidentally, happened to be the son of Viv Richards.
And I thought: the cupboard isn’t bare. We can do better, if only we made the effort to seek them out.
The quality of cricket commentary from the West Indies appears to have fallen pari passu with the standard of our cricket. Mediocrity has become the standard.
As we work to return our cricket to the standards of old, perhaps we can also pay attention to the standard of our cricket commentary?