The return of Caribbean Cricket

No, sadly I don’t have the answer to the Caribbean’s descent into oblivion, nor any exciting news of its regeneration. This is just a reminder that Ryan Narine’s CaribbeanCricket.com and blog are both back in the land of the living which, if nothing else, is the best news West Indies cricket has had in months. Check out both and keep reading.

It is, as Tony Cozier said the other day, an “intimately informed” website and required reading for anyone interested in cricket.

With that good news comes another depressing comment, this time from Tony Becca.

“Cricket, once the king of sports in this country, has become a second-rate sport in this country.”

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.

King Samuels

Does Marlon Samuels owe Bennett King a word of thanks? From Tony Cozier (via Ryan):

Samuels’ promise was obvious in his debut series here four years ago, when he was just 19. He has fallen well short of expectations in the interim and has been kept out of Test cricket since 2003 by the frustrated selectors. But his potential is impossible to disregard and he was chosen for this tour, possibly his last chance. Even Lara could not have surpassed the strokeplay that produced eight sixes and 34 fours in six-and-a-half flawless, magical hours.

Smith is 23 years old, Samuels 24. Five others 25 or under will be in the side on Thursday. There seems to be hope after all for West Indies cricket. The coming month will tell whether or not it is misplaced.

The West Indies could do with an injury to McGrath and Warne to boost their confidence, too…

UPDATE: Ryan makes an excellent point, which we all should be aware of:

But, let’s pay attention to the set-up that’s happening before our eyes. The international Aussie media is setting up a situation where King gets credited for all improvements but, when things fall apart, it is the “system” in the Caribbean that it is the weak link.

Nope, sorry, can’t have it both ways. You either take all the credit or take all the blame. That’s all.