When it comes to watching sport on the tellybox I know what I am talking about. My life often revolves around what sport is on and I watch hours of sports each week even in the summer and when the winter comes then that number increases exponentially. Throughout all the fantastic and enjoyable commentry and presenting teams that I watch (BBC F1, ESPN College Gameday, ESPN/ABC College Football Primetime, NBC Sunday Night Football, #9 Cricket, ESPN PTI) one team sticks out from above the paraphit of these top notch teams is the Sky Sports Test Cricket team. Six men between them bring something different and as a mix they all just work well together.
Let’s look at them alphabetically (albeit with the main anchor first):
David Gower: The former Leicestershire, Hampshire and England left-hander did some anchor work with the BBC after he retired and moved to Sky Sports. He brings a very laid-back demeanour to the broadcast and anchors it both professionally but with a sense of enjoyment. Extremely knowledgeable about the sport and is quite brilliant at putting forward both sides of an arguement during analysis – certainly in a long rain-break analysis. First rate.
Michael Atherton: Former Lancashire and England opening batsman is without a doubt the best analyiser of the team. Athers also writes about cricket and won the Sports Journalist of the Year award last year, described by the judging panel as “a unanimous choice”, they praised the former England cricket captain for “tackling subjects way beyond cricket” and said “the brilliance of his writing shines.” Not afraid to say exactly what he thinks he also brings great gravitas to the position with a dry wit that you need when commentating on a five-day match.
Sir Ian Botham: The former Somerset, Durham and England all-rounder well known on the scene for being part of The Champagne Club in the England team of the 80s and early 90s (along with Gower and Mike Gatting) who loved to play cricket but also enjoyed having a good time. Brings an old school mentality to the broadcast but also very laid back.
Michael Holding: The fast-paced West Indian who loves his horses also brings great gravitas to the role. Knows exactly what he is talking about but isn’t afraid to go off-topic. His disgust and sebsequent rant about plastic bags in supermarkets was wonderful. Also purely on a simplistic issue his tone is very different and brings a good contrast to the broadcast.
Nasser Hussein: The former Essex and England middle-order batsman often plays the role of the whipping-boy in the broadcast but likes all his peers is extremely knowledgeable about the sport. His prowess running between the wicket was shall we say not first-rate. It may not have been as bad as Inzamam-ul-Haq’s but not far off.
David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd: The former Lancashire batsman and England coach very much brings the humour whilst not being over the top. His T20 commentries are second to none and he has been asked to call the final overs of both T20 World Cup’s so far by the international TV stations.
All six just work and mesh perfectly. You can sit and listen to all six quite happily. Sky Sports though have other cricket commentators who work on other games but Nick Knight seems to have been promoted for this series with Sri Lanka and for me it’s just not working. He tries too hard and doesn’t seem at ease. His voice grates and unlike Holding and Atherton when going into detailed analysis, Knight just doesn’t seem to be working. Maybe I should give him time and I’m probably being overly harsh but Sky Sports Test Cricket coverage is quite simply as close to perfection as it stands and the whole 2010/2011 Ashes Series (with Shane Warne as well) was just as good as it can get.
I shall leave you with this video of an amusing moment down under…you all know which one it is…
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