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Sky Sports Cricket Commentary: A One-Sided Affair

Perhaps this article has no concern in a feature about television, but then again, for how many of us does commentary affect our sports viewing experience?

Commentary is another layer of the sport viewing experience involving some disputes, jokes, and general amusement.

The India VS Australia Boxing Day test match has kicked off, and whilst being one of the most thrilling matches of test cricket we have seen in a long time, the coverage has been dismal and definitely worthy of a duck. The blame rests on the shoulders of Sky Sports, the self-proclaimed pinnacle of sports broadcasting.

However, their coverage of the India VS Australia test is unreservedly one sided in favour of the Australians.

The match is broadcast on Sky Sports through the Australian Channel 9. The commentary panel is full of Australian greats including Richie Benaud, Bill Lawry and Ian Chappell. There is nothing wrong with their commentary ability, in fact, it is highly amusing and the banter is certainly a plus. But it biased without even an attempt to hide that fact.

There is nothing wrong with the panel itself. Benaud is a fountain of knowledge and Mark Nichols’s analysis is enlightening. They have every right to be biased, and that is what makes cricket commentary so entertaining. But it is only entertaining when there are commentators from the opposition country, who are equally in favour of their own nation, to debate with. This makes for some good fun. We all remember the playful chit chat between Shane Warne and David Lloyd during The Ashes.

Of course, the commentators cannot be blamed for the hand they have been dealt. It is Sky who have created the issues that sees the wise Ravi Shastri and Harsha Bhogle sit out of the commentary for the series. The poor coverage not only creates a lack of commentator debate, but also a new perspective that ultimately leads to poor analysis, a key aspect for an avid cricket viewer.

Sky have already had numerous problems with cricket coverage, particularly on Sky Go, their online player, that allows one to watch Sky TV from one’s computer, providing one has the subscription. Yet Sky was unable to broadcast the recently finished India VS England matches from India on Sky Go due to a dispute with The Board of Control For Cricket In India (BCCI). Bearing in mind that Sky Go is a key selling point for Sky, this is a highly embarrassing and disappointing for the digital TV provider.

We cannot throw all the blame on Sky since some must go to the BCCI for this faux pas. However, the one aspect that Sky Sports has full control over is their studio pundits. So far, Shaun Udal, Vikram Solanki and Ian Harvey have been in the seats for this current India and Australia series. They are English, English, and Australian respectively. Though it is punditry of a relatively high standard, there is still no balance to the proceedings.

But alas, there is solace in the form of spectators and here Sky Sports get one thing right in showing the playful exchanges between the Australian fans and the blue clad “Swarmy Army”. If only this exchange could happen in the commentary box.

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Smoovie Spinback: Gandhi (1982) Review

RELEASED: 3 December 1982

How do you document the life of a man who inspired a country to fight for independence? It’s definitely not an easy feat, but Richard Attenborough holds the key as his masterpiece, Gandhi, is a three hour tour de force of emotion and superlative filmmaking, and is still walking through cinema history with eight Oscars to its name.

The biopic is a genre dreaded by secondary school history classes worldwide and susceptible to storylines that have the potential to set you dozing in a deep sleep of boredom. We aren’t being negative its just fact, which is why Gandhi is even more incredible. There is something gripping in the acts of pacifism recreated in the film. From the Salt March to challenging the status in Apartheid South Africa, Gandhi’s (Ben Kingsley) allure sweeps through the film. And a tone of anger and defiance that rage through the movie are encapsulated in moments of brutality during the Amritsar Massacre. Such events are powerfully recreated and not always easy to stomach and the violence of Partition are truly tear jerking and not for the faint hearted.

Whilst the script documents key events, it does not ignore the background of India’s most tumultuous period of history. The development of the relationship between Jinnah and Nehru moved precisely from smooth to treading on a rocky road. Even Gandhi’s wife was given space to breathe within this epic, and the film became not just about the man, but also about the people who he affected and the county he helped liberate.

The man of the hour (or three hours we should say) was Sir Ben Kingsley, a casting wild card at the time, but proving to be gold dust, delivering a sublime performance, not just playing Gandhi, but becoming Gandhi. It was not just that he looked exactly like the man, clad in his humble robes and wire framed spectacles, but the fact he delivered a depth, a complexity, a multi layered performance that displayed the humour, the fight, the determination and the courage of the little man with a massive impact.

Gandhi captures a wide and turbulent span of history in a masterful way. It is a film with gusto that stirs a whirlwind of feeling, and is a great testament to an even greater man.