What I’ve Learned This Summer: Ryan Thomas
The 2011/2012 summer of cricket is quickly drawing to a close, and in years to come, we’ll look back with sepia-tinged goggles and reminisce fondly about Pup’s three-hundred, KP’s return to form, and Doug Bracewell’s spell at Hobart. At The Sledge, we get nostalgic about things very quickly; as such, we’ve asked some of the brightest cricket writers from around the world to put together pieces on What They’ve Learned This Summer.
I hate cricket.
Let me take a step back. About three months ago I made a misguided pledge to receive my cricket coverage solely from channel 9 and not from my preferred source of ABC radio.
Three months later, I hate cricket. But to be honest, channel 9 didn’t give me much of a choice.
Let me start with Ian Healy. I don’t know what that man does between March and November, but he doesn’t watch cricket. It’s like every summer his mind is a blank canvas that he splatters opinions over based on the first Test of the series. Yadav picks up a couple of wickets on the first morning? “What an impressive start to his career.” Tendulkar goes out playing a cut shot twice in a series? “That’s the shot that troubles him. They’ll look to expose that.” Spot on, Heals. The guy has 99 international hundreds to his name but you’ve pegged his one weakness.
And then there’s Michael Slater. Aside from being the only person to look at Shane Warne’s face and say “I’ll have what he’s having”, Slats commentates like he won’t be happy until Ricky Ponting is President of an Australia that only produces sports teams in the Harlem Globetrotters mould. And call me old fashioned, but back in my day people on TV had to have a grip on the English language. How this qualifies a bitter has-been with sentence structure that would make the Windows paperclip commit suicide is beyond me.
I actually feel sorry for Mark Nicholas. I’ve heard him commentate before, so I know he has a knowledge of the game far beyond that of his colleagues, which is why it’s so grating to hear him proclaim every shot as a ‘superb stroke’. But even his choice of superlatives frustrates me. Why can’t a late cut through third man for four be a ‘nice’ shot? I’d take ‘great shot, that’. But does it have to be a ‘clever’ shot? I thought to hit the ball away from fielders was a basic principle of batting. I actually heard his voice shake when someone lofted the ball in the air.
I try to like Mark Taylor. He can be insightful and often gives calculated thoughts on matters of the game such as captaincy. But I get the feeling that, unlike when they were batting, his partnership with Michael Slater is forced and uncomfortable. The two often try to one-up each other which produces a tasteless and grating ‘excitement’. Tubs has also warmed to describing Michael Clarke as a ‘busy’ cricketer. Is there something else he’s meant to be doing? “Busy cricketer, Michael Clarke. Not only is he on 43 but he’s also teaching a Pilates class and writing a Gluten Free cookbook.”
They’re not all unbearable. Richie is as sharp as ever, providing insight and adhering to his own rule of not describing the vision, but adding to it.
Bill Lawry is still the every-man who loves cricket more than what is socially acceptable. He even made a cracking joke about hail stones being “scarier than Fred Trueman”. Unfortunately Slats and Tubs didn’t know who he was talking about.
Ian Chappell still demands respect. Not from his commentary, but from the amount he swears when he’s quoted in books and documentaries.
And for the first time ever, I don’t hate Tony Greig. I grew up thinking he hated Australia more than John Howard, but it turns out he’s more like Severus Snape from Harry Potter. I assume, I’ve never read the books. They’re both Irish, right? But Greigy has been a revelation this year. He’s possibly the only CH9 commentator who pays Sri Lanka the respect they deserve as a powerhouse ODI nation. And through my exposure to FoxSports I learned that Greigy follows the cricket all year round, just like me.
So while all my cricket friends have had their heads on straight and their radios tuned to 774:
I had the pleasure of:
“Showing about TOO MANY RESULTS!”
So after the Australia V India Test series (which Mark Nicholas assured me was nothing short of magical, historical and fat-reducing) I decided to reward myself with ABC Grandstand for the One Day series. And just yesterday, I had one of “those moments”.
You know the one; you’re driving in your car listening to the radio, when Michael Clarke hits two boundaries to go to 97 to join Dave Warner in the 90s. I reverse parked like what the kids are calling “a boss”, screamed up the street in my work shoes, desperate to get to a tele to see who gets to 100 first. I fumble with my keys in the door, trip over my cricket shoes and lunge at the remote. I finally get to Channel 9, the Marks Nicholas and Taylor are debating the behavior of Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene, who’s just gone troppo at the umpires for a no-ball call. They show the ball going over waist height. From front on. From side on. From stump cam. From Front on. They show the popping crease. From front on. From side on. The producers kick themselves for not implementing “Rauf-Cam”. They show Jayawardene waving his arms. Then in slow motion. Then in reverse.
I turn the TV off and walk back to my car and drive around the block.
I hear Michael Clarke bring up his century. I hear the crowd cheer, and I hear Jim Maxwell’s excitement.
I could never stay mad at you.
Ryan Thomas has a face for television, a voice for radio, and a brain for cricket. It is red, has a circumference of nine inches, and has a prominent seam.
For more “Things We’ve Learned This Summer”, click here.