Ever wondered what these sages of the world who pose as dignified know-it-alls in the comforting confines of the commentary boxes these days, were like in their playing days? Yes, there are some like Sir Viv Richards who have carried their world-class personas seamlessly from the ground to behind the microphone, but some like Ian Chappell have changed hilariously. Here’s a look at few of the greats (and also not so greats) of yesteryear whose voices now form an integral part of our cricketing experience.
My god if there was ever a 180-degree switch, it is in this guy. The Kiwi medium fast bowler was one of the most mild mannered individuals on the field back when he still donned the whites, but these days you put a mic in front of him and he has the potential to bring down the roof, so loud are his screams. Check out this video and see if the towering decibel level can’t give Afridi’s gigantic six a run for its money.
Our very own bad Stallone (obviously not the muscles just the long “Rambo” locks) parody hasn’t changed a lot looks wise in all these years, remaining as suave and stylish as he was back in the day. A solid but unspectacular opening batsman for the green shirts, he has admittedly become one of the voices of Pakistan cricket, although his trademark clichés like “he failed to read the script there” or “ he’s missed the plot there altogether” or “Afridi youuuuuu beautyyyyy” grate and entertain in almost equal measure.
The great man himself explains how he came to be called “whispering death”. You’ll especially love the nonchalance with which the line “I suppose death came from the pace at which I bowled” is delivered.
Holding had a run up to match Mozart’s flowing symphonies and an action that would mesmerize and even hypnotize the careless batsman, who would then get a rude awakening by the pace at which “whispering death” fired the little red projectile at his stumps or more alarmingly at his body. To this day he remains a gentleman and as unexcitable as he was in the time of the mighty Windies, greeting even the most outrageous shots with just a dour “siiix” in his unmistakable Jamaican twang. And frankly, why would he be excited by anything the modern batsman has to offer given he witnessed at close quarters the absolute carnage Messrs Lloyd and Richards and Greenidge dished out? He endeared himself further to millions of Pakistanis by showing some unexpected but heartfelt emotion when Mohammad Amir was embroiled in the spot fixing saga of 2010.
Whether you think he bears a more striking resemblance to Homer Simpson’s evil boss Mr Burns or real-life villain to many Mr Putin, you can’t deny that Nasser is anything but a villain in the commentary box.
Nasser and Mr Burns
Nasser and Putin
Brash, in your face, picking a fight with the media after his century in the 2002 Natwest trophy and making fiery gestures to his own dressing room, Nasser always gave you the feeling that you were in the presence of a volcano just about to explode in splendid flames, although that didn’t stop him from becoming one of the most wily English captains. Even though he does sometimes show flashes of his old self, he has become one of the most reasonable, articulate, and unbiased commentators in the modern game. Pakistanis may never forget his “We were wondering which Pakistan would turn up today now we know it is the one to be afraid of” line, uttered after Kamran Akmal hit Steyn straight back over his head in the semi final of that glorious T20 World Cup campaign of 2009.
“Chapelli” is what one of the best Australian captains of all time is affectionately called by the cricketing world. He was an aggressive captain and a man who exhibited the never-say-die attitude right to the hilt. He was undoubtedly one of the primary architects of the modern Australian way of trying to absolutely pound your opposition into the ground whatever the situation.
Today however, the change is discernible, with the handlebar moustache and the shirt almost open to the belly morphing into more conservative facial hair. He is also found dressed in sensible ties and grey suits, while his style too has grown more scholarly with a razor sharp analysis and a quick grasp of the situation still remaining his forte. The dressing down players and coaches sometimes get from Chappell though, especially Australians, make up for some very enjoyable listening.