Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Quote of the Day - 9 January 2013

We blogged last week about the respective deaths of Tony Greig and Christopher Martin-Jenkins; two doyens of cricket broadcasting. 

We subsequently saw this tribute to both men written by Rob Bagchi in The Guardian, and even though the extract is a bit longer than usual, it was a must for a Quote of the Day:

What a distressing few days it has been for lovers of cricket and for those who admire the great commentator's ability to describe and interpret the game in language that elucidates the facts but never makes character and context seem subservient to them.
The eulogies for Tony Greig and Christopher Martin-Jenkins, deeply affecting in their fond sincerity, only confirmed the impressions most of us had of men whose voices had been familiar English midsummer and midwinter companions for decades.
They spoke of decency, integrity, warmth and courage but above all of a talent for communication – in CMJ's case of his enthusiasm, courtesy, erudition and usually deadpan, playful wit, in Greig's of drama, charismatic good cheer and a rather extravagant excitement that always appeared to be genuine. He threw himself into everything – from attempting to rally tired and morose England supporters on the first evening of the opening Ashes Test on the 1994-95 tour to extolling the beauty of Sri Lankan beaches and hawking official memorabilia on Channel 9 – with such wholehearted conviction that he should have usurped Norman Vincent Peale as the guru of positive thinking.
The two adopted sons of Sussex represented best the contrasting models of commentary when the art diversified following the birth of World Series Cricket in 1977 and a defeated "establishment" handed Kerry Packer broadcasting rights to international matches in Australia as his victory spoils two years later.
The new style would make the task faced by Private Eye's teenage bard EJ Thribb, master of the pithy if impassive epitaph, straightforward for Greig who had a stockpile of catchphrases, most of them mundane unless delivered with his infectious ebullience. "Goodnight, Charlie", of course, but also "oh boy, what a blinder", "these little Sri Lankans", "right in the blockhole" and his Eastern Cape Province pronunciation of mid-off as "mid-orrff", "grass" as "grorse", "fast" as "forst" and the depiction of the havoc wreaked by a big hitter that particularly sparkles in Billy Birmingham's 12th Man parody "causing carnage in the car park" as "corsing cornidge in the cor pork".
If he was guilty of hyperbole – he must have proclaimed a cover drive "the best shot you'll ever see" nearly every series or only marginally more infrequently witnessed "the greatest catch" – he was never hysterical even though he occasionally fell into the trap of premature adjudication, calling sixes before the ball had cleared the rope and, indeed, the boundary fielder or catches before they had been safely taken. But having to say "correction" and start again did not dim his vivacity. Nor did an Ian Chappell speciality slap-down – during the 1992 World Cup when Steve Waugh came out to bat the former England captain greeted him with the designation "the best all-rounder in the southern hemisphere". Chappell, no fan of the elder twin, shot back: "Gee, Tony. He's not even the best all-rounder in his own family."

The reference to the Waugh twins of course is a wonderful segue to a great cricket yarn. Good nicknames are a treasure, and the Channel Nine commentary team's attempt to beat up a nickname for new Australian pace bowler Jackson Bird on Saturday was cringeworthy.

But Mark Waugh had one of the best nicknames of all. It was many years later than his elder twin that Waugh finally made it into the Australian side. So someone in Mark Waugh's State team christened him "Afghanistan". It seemed obscure at the time, until someone let the cat out of the bag; the forgotten Waugh (war).

Tony Greig and Christopher Martin-Jenkins will each, in their unique ways, be missed. But the cricket world is a better place for the entertainment they provided us.

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