Cricket commentary on your mobile

Meant to note this down last week and forgot. We’re now doing commentary for mobile phones – and it’s really brilliant. I know it’s a bit sycophantic to praise Cricinfo’s services but, let’s face it, we do rock – and this is really very cool. If you’re away from your PC, just download this program and you can keep an eye on our accurate (yet irreverent…) commentary on your phone. It’s quick and free.

Get to it.

Celebrity commentators: Tony Benn

A fruity voice, outspoken, opinionated – and best of all, easily impersonated. Imagine how entertaining the rain intervals would become.

Previously, Jools Holland

Celebrity commentators: Jools Holland

As predicted, the rain is tumbling down. Not quite as bad in Leeds as it is here in London, which is encouraging, but I doubt there’ll be any play at Headingley until mid-afternoon. Hey ho (Flint), stick some music on, make a cuppa cha. I’m watching Jools Holland’s Later from last week with a frightening looking Joan Armatrading bitching it on a Fender. Rawk. Incidentally, Jools would be a shoo-in for my Celebrity Cricket Commentators list – welcoming everyone in the comm box. “And here, today, we have the brilliant, the extraordinary, the multi talented…AGGERS! Thank you!” etc.

So Jools would be one, Alan Partridge another. Who else?

Broadcast Views

Reverse Swinging Mark has his say on Sky’s broadcast roster.

The classic sports arrangement consists of a commentator who actually describes what’s going on out in the middle, alongside a ‘colour’ man who, well, adds the colour to the picture the commentator has described – effectively providing deeper analysis of what’s going on.

Every other sport seems to recognise this – football commentary is left to the professional commentators (Motson, Davies, Tyler) with ex-pros like the exemplary Andy Gray, just providing the ‘colour’ – the same with Rugby Union where Miles Harrison and Stuart Barnes have developed a level of understanding that rugby hasn’t witnessed since Gareth Edwards and Phil Bennett were strutting their stuff.

Sky Cricket’s problem is that they have too many ‘colour’ guys and not enough commentators – in fact, they haven’t actually got any at all. You need balance to ensure that the commentary flows with the game – but instead, with Sky, we get a series of ex players who feel that they have to continually justify their presence with elaborate analysis of every thought, word and deed of the players in the middle – plus a whole lot more beyond that, without realising that all we actually need is some sort of insight into what is actually happening, and why. No one is doing orthodox commentary, because no one has been asked/told to – so the Sky product is fundamentally flawed.

As it happens, I tuned in my television to watch the New Zealand vs Sri Lanka Test match, and to my surprise the first voice I heard was that of the veteran West Indies commentator, Tony Cozier. Whether or not he’s emigrated to New Zealand, or doing some freelancing, I have no idea, but it was a delight to hear him.

Cricket in New Zealand is broadcast by Sky NZ, and it suffers from almost the opposite problem to that described by Mark- too much commentary, and not enough colour. I’m not sure where Jeremy Coney has got to, but the rest of the local commentators are too descriptive and.. boring.

Unfortunately, there’s not a great market for Test cricket in New Zealand. Shane Bond is giving the Sri Lankans a royal grilling before a nearly empty stadium, and so when broadcasting in this sort of environment, it is important to ‘pep it up’ a bit. You do not need the ‘Barmy Army’ to create atmosphere but you do need to have more then 15% of the seats sold.

This isn’t meant to be an attack on Sky NZ, who are doing a great job- the camera work is as good as anything Nine in Australia can come up with. The graphics are smart and professional. They just need to think ‘outside the square’ somewhat to liven things up. If they hired Tony Cosier to this end, then they have made a good start.

Cricinfo’s ball-by-ball commentary

Until now, with the odd exception, ball-by-ball commentary has been performed by mystical faraway people with no names. As if by magic, bang on time, the scorecards at Cricinfo appear and within a few minutes a stream of fascinating (and for many people, vital) commentary is revealed.

The veil of intrigue as to the identity of these people is, on Thursday at least, to be removed as me and my colleage, the utterly venerable Jenny Thompson, will be providing live ball-by-ball commentary. My editor and boss started the ball rolling the other week, during the one-dayers against Sri Lanka, which was (near enough) the first time an editorial team had access to it. Actually that’s rubbish: our colleages in India, Jamie and Sriram, have been doing it for the India v West Indies series – and a splendid job they’ve done too.

Anyway it’s all pretty new and exciting and, hopefully, me and Jenny (and others of course) might provide something a bit different. We’ll see how it goes. I’m keen on pointing people from the scorecard to various things on the site – be it a funny/interesting new photo that’s just landed; a “breaking news” story – and generally bringing our own personal style (within house rules, and The Cricinfo House Style) to proceedings.

On that note…what do you like/dislike about Cricinfo’s scorecards and live commentary? What do you want to hear about when you’re stuck at work, clock-watching? I promise not to do a Henry Blofeld re his fascination of butterflies and London buses…but a stray pigeon simply has to be mentioned.