Starring: Shane Warne, Ian Chappell, Ian Healy
THE first Test was wrapped up in four days, with the Australians receiving all the plaudits.
Whether the same positive vibes are heading towards the commentary box is another matter altogether.
The summer TV season has started with a new look team at Channel Nine.
The premature death of Tony Greig has seemingly heralded a changing of the guard, with Bill Lawry staying home at the retirement village and Richie Benaud left on the bench after a recent car accident.
Benaud will be back because he is Richie Benaud, a doyen of the craft whose semi-religious status appears to mask the fact that he longer offers much insight into the game. He’s less Abraham Lincoln these days and more Abraham Simpson.
Ian Chappell is doing the same thing that Ian Chappell has done for 30 years or more. Steady, humourless but often sharp with his insights.
It’s the young Turks, however, who seem to hold the balance of power these days.
Michael Slater, Ian Healy, Shane Warne – all men in their 40s mind you – have been charged with keeping the game relevant and entertaining to a new generation of viewers.
Slater does this by yelling a lot. Ian Healy also gets very excited at the slightest suggestion that anything at all is happening, which it usually isn’t.
Wane is the pick of the commentators, offering the right balance of tactical nous and humour.
Newcomer Michael Hussey is still finding his voice and will need a few more Tests to show his wares.
As evidenced by Sky Sports efforts over the English summer, offering viewers an insider’s view of Test cricket can be highly entertaining and add to the understanding of the game.
Nine has dipped its toe into the analysis water, but seems more comfortable with boys’ club chicanery than sophisticated segments on the game.
Having been spoilt by the English coverage over winter, it’s a bitter pill to swallow to be back in the lounge room with Slats, Heals, Tubby and Chappelli.
Thank God for the mute button.
– Danny Buttler