Alas, cricket is not quite blessed with the deafening sound of Herbert Zimmermann or David Coleman or Hugh Johns. Maybe, unlike in football, cricket commentators haven’t the spontaneity to flex their larynx to the extent of say, Fabio Caressa’s “It’s Pirlo, Pirlo, Pirlo, still Pirlo, lays it off, shot... GOOOOAL! GOOOOAL! GOOOOAL! Grosso! Grosso! GOOAL! Goal from Grosso! Goal from Grosso! Goal from Grosso! Incredible! Incredible!”
The cricketing diction itself is more poly-syllabic, as opposed to football’s more tiki-taka, free-flowing phraseology. Hence, cricket commentary itself is more prosaic. The closest to a Zimmermann impersonator might be our own Danny Morrison, as when he squeals, “Whoaaaaaa, Whoaaaa, Ohhhhhh dearrrrrr Ohhhhh dearrrrr,” as Chris Gayle deposits the gangly Morne Morkel over extra cover.
The staccato delivery is a visceral marriage of jubilance and excitement, as though Morrison has spotted an earth-bound meteor or an asteroid. It is part-laugh, part-roar that cannot be captured by transcribing it accurately as a stream of “ooooooohhhhhs” – and can never be forgotten once heard, though what he says hardly warrants that emphasis. It’s the soundtrack to those nightmares in which you find yourself wandering around like Tintin with Bianca Castafiore in the nip. You feel something grind through between your ears, and overall the effect is confusion than anything else.
Generally, IPL commentators are of two breeds – either the cliché-trundling windbags or those frequenters to the altar of hyperbole. And of course an excitable lot – pardon the sanguine Sanjay Manjrekar, who might have taken immunity boosters against the verbal carnage of his volatile mates – spurred into taxing their throat-boxes by a half-wicket or half-boundary, let alone a “Yes Bank Maximum”. And they also seem to devour from the same book of “The Fine Craft of Stating the Glaring Obvious (with a foreword by Ravi Shastri)”. So whenever a batsman fetches a boundary, they go delirious, and borrow from the aforementioned bible of theirs, “It is a good, strong hit.” Or resort to the various improvisations, “clean strike, over the ropes, full value for the shot,” and so on and so forth.
Unless of course, you are Ravi Shastri, for he gleans from a book of divine aphorisms only he can comprehend. For his is a world unto himself, a world wherein the atmosphere is always “electric” and the noise is forever “deafening”. Never a flashy customer in his heyday, he can hardly hold his breath when a batsman goes for an almighty swish outside the off-stump, “he flashes and he flashes hard.”
But the tone of authority is unmistakable, delivered with as much guttural exertion as his trademark “chapathi shot”. And how can but one watch a match in India without the pithy prelude of his, “This is all what you have been waiting for…” or his snappy wind-up line, “that’s all from the centre….”
Nothing beats his immortalized, hit-like-a-tracer-bullet (too much of Calvin and Hobbes, eh?) deliverance though. Nonetheless, his commentary would be missed the day he is “done and dusted” with the microphone.