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The Sports Commentary Thread


PowerButchi

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I was going to make a "Who's the greatest sporting commentator ever?" thread then realised we'd all just say Bary Davies or Brian Moore (football) and just rightly slaughter anyone who said Motson. Anyone else got a different (incorrect) opinion to mine?

 

Well, I decided to make it. Here's the first two posts, after that, this could be a very interesting conversation.

 

 

If you're talking sports commentators, rather than just football, my vote would have to go with Richie Benaud.

 

 

I was going to make a "Who's the greatest sporting commentator ever?" thread then realised we'd all just say Bary Davies or Brian Moore (football) and just rightly slaughter anyone who said Motson. Anyone else got a different (incorrect) opinion to mine?

 

Those are the two correct answers. Brian Moore was the best. I don't understand why all modern commentators try to emulate Motson instead of Moore.

 

Barry Davies was also heroic, he had more of the disappointed boarding school headmaster about him, but that was all part of the charm.

 

To be a great commentator, there has to be an extra special quality in the voice. Not quite Gravitas - for instance, I wouldn't say JR had Gravitas - but something that makes it sound authoritative, knowledgable and agreeable. It's why Josh Matthews will never be a good or great commentator, because (amogst other things) he still sounds like his balls haven't finished dropping.

 

You could do a "worst commentator" thread and people would be arguing for years. I don't think I could pick one, Jon Champion, Clive Tyldesley, John Motson, Jonathan Pearce, PETER DRURY. Ah, there it is. Each has their own particular brand of wankery but no-one eclipses Peter Drury for pure, unadulterated shitness.

 

The obsession with relating stats to everything really grates, too. Who cares if it's the first time Liverpool have conceded more than 3 goals at home on a Tuesday since 1998? It doesn't fucking mean anything.

 

Not that I'm bothered, or anything.

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Worst have to be Clive Tyldesley and Lawrenson, both condescending smug twats who actively detract from whatever it is their commentating on. I used to laugh at people who turn off the tv commentary and stick the radio on instead but it's necessary with these two.

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It's Barry Davies as Butch mentioned. Peter Brackley second. He was brilliant when he covered the Italian footy in the 90s, but has always delivered on anything he's done since. Motson is the most insufferable pillock to ever have made a living in sports commentary. Jim Beglin and Andy Townsend need their mouths sewing shut, too.

 

David Lloyd is wonderful which is pretty much common knowledge, but I do enjoy Botham, too.

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David Lloyd is wonderful which is pretty much common knowledge, but I do enjoy Botham, too.

Mark me down for these two. The whole Sky cricket commentary team are fantastic in fairness.

As I said in the cricket thread I really want Michael Holding to read me a bedtime story.

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I totally agree with The Ratt. Richie Benaud is the best commentator I've ever heard on any sport. He's absolutely wonderful. The end of the 2005 Ashes will always be tinged with a bit of sadness for me because that was his last ever commentary stint on these shores. I even wrote an article back then that is somehow still online that pretty much sums up my feelings on him:-

 

Richie Benaud isn't just the greatest sports commentator or greatest sports broadcaster that I've ever encountered, but he is simply one of the greatest broadcasters I've encountered from any area of the media. Losing him from broadcasting in this country is a loss that, although not incalculable, but is certainly a significant one because broadcasters like himself are so very few and far between.

 

His was the voice coming out of the speakers of the TV when I started watching cricket back in 1985. As an eight year old kid new to the sport, I found him easy to understand and more than anyone else he helped me to understand the sport which I now enjoy more than any other. He made as much sense to me yesterday after 20 years of watching the sport as he did 20 years ago when I knew next to nothing about it. That's how good he was.

 

His commentary style is quite unlike that which you will hear from other broadcasters. Cricket is a sport that allows you to get to know the personalities behind the microphone far more easily than you would find in football, because the very nature of the action means that they have more time to talk and express their views on what is happening. Football doesn't allow that to happen, which is perhaps why Brian Johnston, Henry Blofeld and Benaud are regarded with more respect and admiration than perhaps any football commentator that I can think of, with the possible exception of Kenneth Wolstenholme. They allowed you, and in the latter two cases still allow you, to get to know them.

 

Despite the extra time Benaud would have behind the microphone compared to his broadcasting colleagues in other faster paced sports, he never filled his time with meaningless bluster, a trap that is fallen into by Charles Colville and the admittedly enjoyable David Lloyd on Sky Sports. He only spoke of matters that he thought the viewer would be interested in and didn't see fit to comment on every piece of action we might see, knowing that we have eyes for ourselves and could see perfectly clearly. He would occasionally depart from the action to comment on the ground and its surrounding areas, and myself and my mum would always enjoy listening out for him commenting on the hanging baskets that are always a pleasant sight at Old Trafford, with him obliging without fail.

 

His commentary style was filled with a splendid mixture of fact, humour and opinion, but never too much of the three. When witnessing Wasim Akram illegally scratching away at a ball during a test between Pakistan and England in full view of cameras a good few years ago, Benaud didn't become all offended and erupt into a torrent of expressed disgrace. Just a quiet, "Hmm. Careful, Wasim." sufficed. Like I say, he let the viewers see for themselves and make their own minds up.

 

Humour was never far from his lips either, exhibiting a dry sense of humour and an eye for the cricketing ridiculous on occasions. Upon witnessing notorious slow-coach and rule manipulating ex-Sri Lankan skipper Arjuna Ranatunga taking yet another impromptu drink break during a lengthy innings at The Oval some years ago, he commented, "Goodness me. How much can a human body hold of Gatorade or Lucozade or whatever is the in-vogue cricketing beverage of choice these days?" Anybody who ever saw Ranatunga's rather 'unathletic' frame will know the answer to Richie's query was 'a shed-load'.

 

As for opinions, he had plenty but never overloaded viewers with them. Knowing full well that his job was not be throwing opinions at an audience in the mock-offended way football commentators such as Martin Tyler and the generally marvellous John Motson do when they witness a player doing something 'objectionable', he mainly kept them to himself, only offering the occasional clue about his feelings. When questioned in 1989 by Tony Lewis after England lost the Ashes for the first time in a run of eight series defeats that was only ended yesterday about what England needed to work on in the future, he answered the rather stupid question with a perfectly succinct answer. "The batting. The bowling. The fielding. I think that will be enough for them to be going on with."

 

Yesterday's final stint behind the microphone which climaxed perhaps fittingly with a wonderful piece of cricket when Glenn McGrath uprooted Kevin Pietersen's off-stump with a brilliant leg-cutter was for me personally, and I'm sure for cricket fans all over the country, truly the end of an era. Here is a voice from my childhood that has helped me appreciate a sport that I now enjoy more than any other, and that I have grown up with, and now he is gone. His parting words yesterday were understated and unflustered, like with all his commentary stints throughout his admirable career, not lacking in emotion but with emotion kept in check so he could be professional to the end.

 

He bows out as a person that I could never thank enough for bringing entertainment into my life. If I could care less about honours handed out to people, I'd be demanding his immediate knighthood. But he doesn't need that to confirm his greatness. Thank you, Richie.

 

On a different note, Barry Davies is clearly the best commentary all-rounder. There will never be another like him. Nigel Starmer-Smith was also excellent. And although not a play-by-play man, Gary Neville will go down as one of the greats.

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Rugby commentary is pretty poor these days. If I wasn't Welsh I could imagine I'd fucking hate Jonathan Davies, for example. And while Eddie Butler's voice carries tremendous gravitas and a real poetic cadence, the best voice on TV I'd say, I don't really think he's a top commentator. Brian Moore (rugby) on the other hand is someone I've really come around to when he's not talk about scrums or being very English about his approach to the game.. He speaks real sense, and is very no-nonsense.

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Is Gary Neville serious about management? Can't see him being too many more years at Sky if that's the case. He is wonderful though, know his stuff, has done it all and somehow manages to remain unbiased most of the time. I wonder how Carragher will be this year, he seemed knowledgeable enough during his spell on ITV but his accent is horrendous.

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Worst have to be Clive Tyldesley and Lawrenson, both condescending smug twats who actively detract from whatever it is their commentating on. I used to laugh at people who turn off the tv commentary and stick the radio on instead but it's necessary with these two.

Would you count Lawro as a commentator? I'm not saying he's not absolutely awful, but he's more of the analyst/pundit than commentator. I suppose they're all fair game, though.

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Worst have to be Clive Tyldesley and Lawrenson, both condescending smug twats who actively detract from whatever it is their commentating on. I used to laugh at people who turn off the tv commentary and stick the radio on instead but it's necessary with these two.

Would you count Lawro as a commentator? I'm not saying he's not absolutely awful, but he's more of the analyst/pundit than commentator. I suppose they're all fair game, though.

Yeah I did think of that but he does alot of England and Tournament games in the booth, I don't know how best to describe his particular brand of moaning to be honest.

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Richie Benaud isn't just the greatest sports commentator or greatest sports broadcaster that I've ever encountered, but he is simply one of the greatest broadcasters I've encountered from any area of the media. [...] If I could care less about honours handed out to people, I'd be demanding his immediate knighthood. But he doesn't need that to confirm his greatness. Thank you, Richie.

I know this was originally written in 2005, but Aussies haven't been eligible for knighthoods since 1986.

 

On topic, would it be wrong to speak ill of Tony Gubba now that he's passed on? I suppose lending his voice to ISS '98 (and 64) back in the day might work in his favour.

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Richie Benaud isn't just the greatest sports commentator or greatest sports broadcaster that I've ever encountered, but he is simply one of the greatest broadcasters I've encountered from any area of the media. [...] If I could care less about honours handed out to people, I'd be demanding his immediate knighthood. But he doesn't need that to confirm his greatness. Thank you, Richie.

I know this was originally written in 2005, but Aussies haven't been eligible for knighthoods since 1986.

 

Not really the point I was making, but fine.

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I totally agree with The Ratt. Richie Benaud is the best commentator I've ever heard on any sport. He's absolutely wonderful. The end of the 2005 Ashes will always be tinged with a bit of sadness for me because that was his last ever commentary stint on these shores. I even wrote an article back then that is somehow still online that pretty much sums up my feelings on him:-

 

Great read, nice one. I was really sad when Benaud stopped commentating. As great as Sky's coverage is, you still kind of wish it was on BBC or even C4 still. I know that T20 has "revitalised" cricket, but it's not the same. I'm certain kids can't get a deep love and appreciation for cricket from watching a four hour slogathon compared to endless days in the summer holiday parked in front of the TV watching England toiling, for no other reason other than you had 4 channels, your dad liked cricket, so you had to watch cricket. And when you got bored watching it, you went out and played cricket down the park, and when you got knackered (because 1 v 1 cricket is pretty tiring), you came back and carried on watching. And Richie was a part of all that, a constant, resonant voice behind it all, marvellously knowledgeable and interesting to listen to.

 

Although Michael Holding's voice really does soften the blow. He should be used to talk down jumpers or something. I bet he could have got Raoul Moat in custody within 5 minutes.

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I'm not a football fan so this has to steer towards the Murray Walker/James Hunt combination for the F1 coverage. Not exactly my time frame but you can go back and see the races they covered and they were a magic combo. Murray is a rare one that can do a solo and still be riveting to listen to. He's so into everything going on you can't help but be whipped up in the excitement he creates. Wonderful bloke and the definitive VOICE of a sport.

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Worst bit of commentary of all-time for me was "Golden goal! Has ever a goal been more golden" when South Korea won that clearly bent match against Italy in the 2002 So Peter Drury remains one of my all-time most hated commentators in any sport. In his mind, that is his "They think it's all over" moment but it isn't.

 

As for the best, you have to have some love for John Madden in the days before he started getting stupid sums thrown at him. He just broke down what teams were trying to do tactically on the gridiron in a way that to my ears and eyes was a cut above anybody else.

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