Archive | December, 2011

Cricket Commentators Flusk and Johnson

2 Dec

We’ve not had any cricket for a while, so I gratefully watched the excellent recent tour of the Aussies. Being laid up with some sort of virus, I got to watch a fair bit of it, which means I got more than my daily recommended allowance of cricket commentators. It revealed a few things, one being that Neil Mansthorp is unfortunately turning into Robin Jackman, but more important, it solidified my opinions about the youngbloods, Gareth Flusk and Neil Johnson, and particularly the crucial differences between the two. Seeing as they are presumably avid readers of Ungenius by now, I thought I’d help their commentary by uncharitably painting them in extreme contrast.

The good Neil

Google Images made me choose between 'ugly sunglasses Neil' or 'male mödel from the 90s Neil', so...

The Great Neil Johnson

Neil—or ‘the good Neil’ as I like to call him—is a left-hander, a Howick boy, and a vastly underrated ex-Natal cricketer, so there’s really everything to like. Nevertheless, they initially employed him to commentate on T20 cricket games in which it was obviously his task to sound as unbelievably excited about things as possible. That was a bit much to handle given that they had also recently added dancing girls, failed DJs, on-field walkie-talkie conversations with distracted cricket captains, and the word ‘dugout’ to the cricketing watching experience.


Sent back to the dugout

Since those days, and since letting him loose on test cricket, his humour, knowledge, attentiveness, and professionalism are a joy to hear, and his enthusiasm manages to be infectious without being forced and irritating. In the last test match he must have got sick, because he sounded a bit off and then disappeared for three days. It was a difficult time for all of us.

Neil, pictured after another good commentary stint.

That's your second 'folks' warning, Gareth; one more and you'll be watching the game from the dugout.

The Grating @GarethFlusk

Social media’s @GarethFlusk seems to be a nice enough chap. He claims, after all, to be a left hander (though I have my doubts). He sometimes isn’t wrong, and he isn’t offensive.

Nevertheless, he makes two important mistakes that I can’t forgive.

#1 Folks
The first mistake is to continually use the word ‘folks’, as in ‘Let me just tell you, folks, that big collars and wide ties are great for accentuating the square jaw-line.’ Well, I mean obviously not exactly that sort of thing—just imagine a less interesting sentence.

The reason why ‘folks’ is such a crime is that it creates distance between him and us. In fact it creates a ‘him’ and an ‘us’. Great commentary lets us believe that we’re keeping company with interesting people talking about an interesting game. It’s the boys, drink in hand, barbecue in the background, discussing the important subject of cricket. Then some idiot says ‘folks’ and thereby puts himself on a stage, a mountebank addressing the filthy masses down below. The illusion is broken, and instead of being fooled into thinking that I’m one of the experts, part of a circle having a discussion, I am being spoken down to by a ‘celebrity’.

#2 Twits
@GarethFlusk’s second big mistake is not only to hint at his imaginary celebrity status by calling us folks, but to actively seek out a following by incessantly telling us to find more utter banality from him on Twitter. Campaigning for one’s own celebrity is annoying and desperate and will definitely ensure that his eternal destiny will at least involve a million years of non-stop Lady GaGa songs, with only a 70-year-old Kim Kardashian talking about her glory days for company. This is all especially unforgivable because I’m trying to watch the darn cricket.