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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Playing the man

Paul Toohey in The Australian, usually regarded as a knowledgeable reporter on NT and indigenous matters, is trying to reinvent himself as a cricket and/or media commentator by putting the boot into Mark Nicholas, the front man of the Channel Nine cricket commentary team.

"Unctuous" is Toohey's description of him. IMO it's unfair. Nicholas's accent and general demeanour may ruffle some Australian feathers in the same way as the wind ruffles his hair, but he can, and often does, go beyond the usual commentary box cliches. He can read a game well, has strong onscreen presence which enables him to lead discussions with his fellow commentators and can communicate his views clearly.

Although we don't see much evidence of this in Australia, he can write well and to deadlines. During the recent Australia - India test series he filed reports on each day's play with the UK Telegraph which were published online soon after the close of each day's play. Check them out.

Several of the commenters on Toohey's piece have brought the ABC radio commentary into the discussion. IMO this isn't above reproach either. The commentators rarely describe field settings nor do they invariably give the score at the end of each over or after each run. It often looks to me as if they focus on the TV image instead of trying to paint their own picture.

I don't want to get into rating commentators but if I did Nicholas would be near or at the top of the list of this year's radio and TV practitioners. "Unctuous"? Rubbish. Try "authoritative".

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