VERY LOST IN TRANSMISSION

 

For about three years, 2008-2010, I wrote a column for The Age newspaper entitled Lost in Transmission, which reviewed sport coverage on television.

 

This is the first of three compilations I’ll be putting up on the site consisting of material from those columns, collected by year.

 

Whereas previous collections of my newspaper material here have nearly all consisted of one-liners excerpted from the columns, for better or worse the Lost in Transmission ones include some lengthier excerpts and one or two whole columns. Publication dates follow each extract.

 

 

 

[re Australian Formula One Grand Prix 2008]

 

* After ruling out virtually all the field from having any real chance of victory, host Bill Woods then announced that it would be “A grand battle for the win, a grand battle for the minor placings, and for the rest, a terrific contest.” Good news all around then, presuming those at the “terrific contest” end of the spectrum didn’t mind spending the gross national product of Bolivia for the privilege.

 

 

 

* Following a spiffy in-car shot of Mark Webber’s right glove in extreme close-up during a warm-up lap, Bill was on hand to further educate us that, in the formula one world,

“You cannot expect to improve 10% and be 10% better, if that makes any sense.”

Well, on the surface of things, it didn’t, quite.

Three or four cars immediately participated in the traditional opening lap wipe-out, thus cruelly denying us any further in-car views of Mark Webber’s right glove in extreme close-up.

 

 

 

* Arguably the most concentrated lunacy of an event not exactly starved for same occurred when Kimi Raikonnen gently spun backwards into a patch of convenient lawn, Timo Glock disintegrated his vehicle against a wall, and Rubens Barichello concluded an otherwise conventional pit-stop by taking off with the fuel-line and one of his unfortunate pit-crew still attached.

As James Allan had earlier noted, “It’s the mark of top grand prix drivers that they make things happen for them.”

Taking him at his word, we must conclude that these are the best batch of grand prix drivers in history.

 

17/3/2008

 

 

 

* Ten strives to create a programming block – the afternoon AFL game runs into the low-carb news service, which tips over into the very-nearly footy comedy show, and finally into the night match at 7.30pm, with Stephen Quartermain, Ovaltine and headache pills to follow.

 

14/4/2008

 

 

 

* As colour commentator Kenny Florian noted of the defeated fighter in last week’s Ultimate Fighting Championship main event, “You’ve got to give your hat to Matt Serra.”

This left the more attentive viewer puzzled as to why one might feel obligated to donate headgear to the Serra cause. Admittedly he’s bald, and on occasion his head must get cold, but you’d figure he made enough money being in UFC main events that he could probably afford to buy any number of hats, including elaborate furry ones, should the notion take his fancy.

 

This idiomatic malfunction was pleasingly reminiscent of a similar hurdle once demolished by no less a wordsmith than Michael Tyson. On losing to Lennox Lewis in 2002, Tyson graciously, if hilariously, remarked, “I take my hand off to you.” You get the impression that by the time the combat sports fraternity works out the correct phraseology, there’s going to be a lot of people walking around with too many hats and not enough hands to put them on with.

 

28/4/2008

 

 

 

* “Nathan Bassett’s done something,” Shaw intoned gravely, if vaguely, during the Fox Sports coverage of Carlton v Adelaide, “It looks like a hamstring, or an Achilles tendon, or maybe his boot’s come off.” When all the forensic tests were in, it transpired that Nathan Bassett had, indeed, lost his boot. Doctors Larkins and Brukner had best be on their mettle – it seems that there’s a new stethoscope in town.

 

28/4/2008

 

 

 

[re Victoria v Dream Team AFL match]

 

* As the Dream Team members clustered around a park bench that someone had obligingly parked on the turf, Michael Voss explained, “We’ve got a photo for prosperity for these guys.” Well, it’s nice to know they were getting a cut.

 

 

 

* The particulars were difficult to follow owing to what were described, with impressively annoying frequency, as “Groundbreaking innovations” and “New technology”. These consisted of cameras affixed to umpires and goalposts. The former offered spectacular panoramic views of umpires’ knees and nostrils, and an unprecedented opportunity to experience motion sickness while sitting still. The latter provided distant, confusing views of goalmouth action at camera angles strikingly reminiscent of a 1960s Batman TV show episode.

 

12/5/2008

 

 

 

* Dennis Cometti’s reference to “B-sides” may well have proved a deal-breaker for younger home viewers. You can’t play the label side of a CD, and MP3’s don’t have any sides at all. Mention records to anyone under 35 these days and they’ll probably assume you’re talking about what Australian swimmers break when they’re not doing the same to each other’s jaws in bars.

 

19/5/2008

 

 

 

* Robert Walls, in his match summary, suggested:

“They were fantastic in the first half, Richmond, and Geelong were equally fantastic in the second half.”

Geelong won by 30 points. Surely their second half had to be considered more fantastic than Richmond’s first, as fantastic as the latter may have been. Actually, they probably should have had one of pay-TV’s astonishing array of paranormal experts on duty at the ground. It would have been right up their alley. Reportedly there was a lot of the fantastic going on, yet little of it seemed readily apparent to the naked eye.

 

19/5/2008

 

 

 

* Possibly the media highlight of the AFL’s indigenous round occurred when Radio 774’s capable boundary observer Kelly Underwood was dispatched to interview Eddie Betts of Carlton in the rooms after the Blues’ triumph over Fremantle. In what became a rich celebration of the diversity of the human mind, Ms Underwood suggested to Eddie, in words fairly similar to these, “You got your team started off the right way. You had the privilege of tossing the coin, and you won. How did all that come about?”

 

It might have seemed to the listener that this was a request for information about how Eddie Betts had come to be contesting the toss instead of his captain, with a built-in prompt directed towards the special circumstances of the Indigenous Round.

 

At any rate, Betts’ response was, “He called tails and it came up heads.” No-one could dispute the accuracy of the statement, even if the response may have been somewhat more prosaic than the one for which the interviewer was hoping.

 

26/5/2008

 

 

 

* Those present at the MCG for the Dreamtime game were privileged to witness entertainment which, to a substantial proportion of the crowd, consisted of eight or nine powerful lights, trained on the retinas of the attendees – as if the latter were spies, and an attempt was being made to forcibly extract the location of enemy troops emplacements – and a certain amount of smoke.

Nothing else on stage was visible at all, until the house lights went up at the very end, revealing the spectacle of the Federal Minister for the Arts jigging around and singing. Whatever you might think about the political system of the United States, at least they don’t have to put up with that over there.

 

26/5/2008

 

 

 

* Over on Fox Sports, Liam Pickering struck chronological difficulties while fulfilling some plugging duties during Hawthorn v Western Bulldogs.

Pickering advised us to “Set the alarm” to catch Fox Sports’ coverage of the French Open, somewhat contradicting a full-screen graphic which clearly advised that live coverage of the event commenced at 8pm.

Apparently they’re keeping farmers’ hours at the Pickering household these days, and if you’re ever invited to dinner, you’re presumably flirting with an empty-plate situation turning up any later than about 4.30pm.

 

2/6/2008

 

 

 

* On Fox Footy, Tony Shaw noted:

“Look at the pressure here. I don’t think you even have to speak words there.”

This begged the intriguing question of what else one might speak, if not words. Knitted samplers or Egyptian hieroglyphics would appear to be out of the question.

 

2/6/2008

 

 

 

The pre-fight TV special preserved for posterity a monumental meeting of the minds – a radio conversation involving Fenech, Kyle Sandilands, Jackie O, and business identity Mick Gatto.

Noted boxing pundit Jackie O reached into the encyclopaedic depths of her fight game knowledge to assure us the battle ahead would be nothing short of sensational.

Sandilands intimated that he might turn up to the fight wearing a robe. Either this was one of Kyle’s trademark plucky but doomed attempts at humour, or he just doesn’t get along to a lot of boxing events. Quite possibly both.

Mick Gatto noted the fight was “For a good cause – charity or whatever.” Clearly the man spoke from the heart, or wherever.

 

23/6/2008

 

 

 

* Outlandish, ludicrous or downright insane nicknames are, of course, long established as an inescapable part of certain combat sports. Arguably the greatest of all current pugilistic monickers belongs to the Ultimate Fighting Championship competitor who rejoices in the name, “The Dean of Mean, Keith Jardine”. This kind of thing is helpfully descriptive too. When, as in fact recently occurred, “The Dean of Mean” squares off against “The Axe Murderer”, prospective viewers can be fairly confident that what they’re about to witness won’t be a competitive piano recital, or speed knitting competition.

 

30/6/2008

 

 

 

* At Euro 2008, Clive Tyldesley sagely observed:

“People are surprised by Russia’s success. They shouldn’t be – they’ve got 142 million people to choose from.”

All soccer aces apparently. This logic clearly explains why China and India routinely star in World Cup finals.

 

30/6/2008

 

 

 

In footy commentary, Dennis Cometti recently quoted a lyric by “original gangsta”, and latter-day TV policeman, Ice-T.

What he said, other than it being nominally appropriate to the sporting moment, is irrelevant. The fact that he had the brazen chutzpah to quote this kind of source in an AFL context, not to mention the conjecture it inspires about how Dennis Cometti would be familiar with Ice-T’s oeuvre in the first place, is what makes for popular culture gold here.

The mind boggles at images of Mr Cometti lounging around in his “crib” clad in the latest bespoke track-suiting, with an immense timepiece weighing against his chest suspended by a monumental gold chain, but there it is.

Admittedly this type of cultural chop-suey is second nature to Dennis Cometti. We’ll know the apocalypse is nigh when Stephen Quartermain starts quoting Public Enemy lyrics after a spirited marking contest.

 

30/6/2008

 

 

* At the K-1 middleweight kickboxing tournament, Main Event channel thoughtfully provided a prophylactic for entertainment, in the form of commentator Michael Schiavello, or as he modestly and engagingly describes himself, Michael “The Voice” Schiavello.

You know, arguably it’s not THAT great a voice. It’s high, nasal, and inclined to sound whiny at high volume, and pretty much everything Mike does is at high volume.

Calling him “The Voice” is a little like having an auntie with pronounced varicose veins and billing her as Doris “Legs” Yablonski.

 

14/7/2008

 

 

* In K-1 kickboxing events, the clincher is those hilariously over-elaborate, all-pro Japanese production values, resembling a cross between “Blade Runner”, a “Conan” movie, and a factory fire, with a general winning flavour of the untranslatably bizarre.

One Brazilian fighter came out wearing a Tiger Mask mask. Tiger Mask was a Japanese cartoon superhero, who became a popular masked Japanese pro wrestling figure. What this has to do with a Brazilian kickboxer is a mystery Lieutenant Columbo would have walked away from. Anyway, it must have worked, because he won.

Another guy (Russian this time) came out dressed either as mid-period Bruce Springsteen or one of the Village People. Come to think of it, he won too. This may be something the Australian Institute of Sport should take a long hard look at.

 

14/7/2008

 

 

* At one point, describing the speed of reaction of Lance Franklin, Tim Watson commented:

“That had to be seen in real life to be believed.”

To be honest, with the possible exception of Andrew Jarman on SEN calls, “real life” is where the majority of us watch our football. Very few of us can afford the bus-fare to an alternative dimension.

 

28/7/2008

 

 

* As Danny Frawley deduced, regarding one on-field phenomenon, “It’s a mind-set thing and a leg-speed thing.” That’s a confusing thing, right there.

 

28/7/2008

 

 

* In the days of Lou Richards’ commentary, there was only one middle of the ground to go straight down the guts of.

Not so in the modern game. As Malcolm Blight noted of a trend in play during Ten’s coverage of the Adelaide-Carlton game,

“Nearly ever attack so far has been down that corridor.”

The construction “That corridor” seems to clearly imply the existence of other invisible corridors on field, just as the pandemically popular and equally mystifying expression “central corridor” does.

How many corridors are there exactly? David Parkin, who, this season, successfully transported his ever-expanding labyrinth of multiplying corridors from ABC radio to Foxtel, may be one source for an answer, but must be approached carefully.

He is entrenched in an impenetrable bunker of high-calibre jargon and may deploy verbal munitions along the lines of “Transitory Mobile Forward Decoy Targets” at a moment’s notice, and with little regard for collateral damage.

 

4/8/2008

 

 

* Seven’s first spectacular Olympics moment occurred just before the start of the Olympics, at the tail end of its Melbourne-Geelong telecast.

 

Ricky Olarenshaw was conducting a post-massacre interview with Geelong coach Mark Thompson. After Ricky had finished mis-paraphrasing the commentators’ summaries to everybody’s satisfaction, he coyly directed the coach’s attention to “Another big sporting event, on the other side of the world.”

 

Like a seasoned media pro, “Bomber” Thompson picked up on the Olympics reference immediately, and then unfortunately, if honestly, ran as hard as possible with it in the non-preferred direction. He was too busy with coaching commitments, he had the team and finals preparation to worry about, and there was, in short, no time for this Olympic Games frivolity for him.

 

What followed was a golden moment in underplayed TV comedy. Cued either by the audible thump Ricky’s face made when it hit the floor, or the sudden realisation of exactly on which network he was appearing, Coach Thompson did a sudden jack-knife with one-and-a-half twists, deserving of a 9.8 from the proverbial Romanian judge, and entered into a belated and highly unconvincing endorsement of how eagerly awaited these Olympics were, and of his great personal affection for the event.

 

In short, a display of late-breaking enthusiasm so convincing that, back in the box, Dennis Cometti immediately deadpanned: “Ahh, I’m not sure he’s totally committed.”

Gold to Australia then, and not so much as a urine sample yet hurled in anger.

 

So then it was to the Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing for the Opening Ceremony. Or the “Crow’s Nest” as Phil Liggett twice referred to it during the next day’s road cycling, apparently having been somewhat transfixed by the run of Johnny Depp pirate movies in recent years.

 

There were a lot of bongo players in martial arts outfits, coloured lights went on and off, and they blew up the gross domestic product in fireworks every five minutes, forcing Seven to go to an ad-break every time. During the next day’s cycling, Seven displayed the same pinpoint timing, cutting to an ad-break just as the peloton reached Tiananmen Square, so there may be a theme developing here.

 

Many hours of athletes and tubby officials strolling around in hilarious outfits ensued. If ever we’d needed Sandy Roberts, it was then, and fortunately Sandy was on fire, not to mention apparently reading straight from the official program.

 

“When you think of Bhutan, you think of archery,” intoned Sandy authoritatively, inciting undiluted national hilarity. Presumably somewhere in the same stadium, a broadcaster from Bhutan was commenting, “And when you think of Australia, you think of field hockey.” Truly the Games brings the world closer together.

 

11/8/2008

 

 

 

* During Seven’s Friday night football telecast from Subiaco, a remark about Collingwood’s commendable interstate record led to one of those oft-heard but profoundly interpretation-resistant pieces of commentator wisdom, namely the importance of “Taking the crowd out of the game”. Given that the crowd is already seated in plastic chairs on the other side of the fence, this is not all that easy to follow. Perhaps the ideal measure to “take the crowd out of a game” would be to follow the AFL’s sterling example and book someone like Daryl Somers or the chorus line from the Queen musical as pre-match entertainment.

 

1/9/2008

 

 

 

* “Scoreboard pressure” is at least as much of a term to reckon with as “Taking the crowd out of the game”. It was employed with impressively opaque mystery by the US Open tennis commentator who sagely observed of Chris Guccione:

“He needs to build some scoreboard pressure on (Radek) Stepanek.”

Interestingly, Guccione was down two sets to one at the time. Not sure where “scoreboard pressure” applies in those circumstances. Basically he either won two sets from there or he was packing his bags and checking his flight ticket to the next tournament.

 

1/9/2008

 

 

 

* On Channel Ten’s coverage of Adelaide v Collingwood, it was difficult not to be distracted by the commentary team’s blazing neckties, which seemed to have come straight from the Bozo the Clown Yacht Club collection.

 

8/9/2008

 

 

 

* Of course, the Malcolm Blight show would not be complete without the occasional return to Planet Mal, a place of rarefied thought indeed. Early in the third quarter Blight noted that the sides were “Starting to reserve rolls”. This suggested a certain degree of concern about the adequacy of the after-match catering arrangements, although it’s possible that he meant “reverse roles”. Relatively few people can pull off a typographical error in routine conversation.

 

8/9/2008

 

 

 

* Perhaps the most unforgettable moment of Ten’s telecast occurred after the game’s conclusion. It’s not often you hear a boundary reporter congratulate Mick Malthouse on a good win and see him respond, with a broad grin, “Thank you, darling.”

Mind you, this only qualifies as a warm moment on Ten’s coverage, where the plucky reporter is Mick’s daughter, Christi Malthouse. If he said the same thing to Ricky Olarenshaw on Seven, that would just be downright disturbing.

 

8/9/2008

 

 

 

* For those who don’t remember, Channel Ten’s epic telecast of the 2005 grand final involved the talents of no less than two match commentators, four special comments men, a separate host, and three boundary reporters. Had there only been room in the booth for another 50 or so people, they could have had the entire Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in there.

 

Something about Friday night’s Bulldogs-Sydney semi-final similarly inspired Seven to a touch of the Cecil B De Mille’s. Two match-callers (Bruce McAvaney and Dennis Cometti) joined three special commentators (Nathan Buckley, Leigh Matthews and David Schwarz), with Tim Watson shunted to the boundary line to join the irrepressible but now somewhat task-light Ricky Olarenshaw.

 

 

Poor old Ricky. Relentlessly cheery as he is, he was left with little to do other than his usual Herculean task of remaining upright while labouring under the weight of more hair product than anyone has seen this side of Richard Wilkins.

 

More isn’t always better, with the possible exception of when it comes to ordering pizza for a footy club presentation night. You seldom need an entire population crisis just to change the one light-bulb.

 

15/9/2008

 

 

 

* In its considerable history of sporting coverage, Channel Seven has never been noticeably averse to employing commentators who get hold of one idea and grimly punish it to within an inch of its, and our, lives. Examples which float readily to mind down the long passage of intervening years include Lou “There’s only one way to play this ground, and that’s right down the middle” Richards, Ian “The umpire was in the best position to see that one” Robertson, and, of course, Peter “Soccer tactics” Landy.

 

22/9/2008

 

 

 

* Earlier, the suave tones of John Alexander had dispensed with another lingering point of confusion: “It’s two sets all. Match will be decided in the fifth.”

Aha! So THAT’S how it works.

 

22/9/2008

 

 

 

* Pay channel Fuel TV, the acknowledged sport destination channel for bored teenagers, featuring BMX-pert, BMX-dirt, people falling off skateboards, and anything bumpy that happens on land, sea or snow that isn’t normal sport. You’ll know you’re in the right place when the program-linking lady comes on, and she’s forgotten her shirt and pants and is loitering around in a bikini.

 

6/10/2008

 

 

 

* “He’s very happy to meet people and sign autographs, so he’s a true champion,” opined Mark Waugh, of Sachin Tendulkar. Frankly, you suspect there must be more to it than that. If those are the criteria, anyone from Dannii Minogue to Steve Bracks could be described as a “true champion”.

 

13/10/2008

 

 

 

* The India v Australia second test commentary was like two pieces of slightly dry bread coming together to impersonate a sandwich. Truly star-crossed viewers, among the very few who were privileged to witness the recent Chile v Australia Davis Cup tie on Seven, may well have been reminded of that event’s once-in-a-nap-time commentary team of John Alexander and Allan Stone. Had rock group Procol Harum been artistically inspired by either team, their big hit may well have been entitled, “A Blander Shade of Doze.”

 

20/10/2008

 

 

 

* In the heady afterglow of Tendulkar’s 12000th test run, Laxman Sivaramakrishnan provided this biographical nugget:

“All the career achievements, and he’s such a humble man. Simple human being.”

 

Well, it was probably meant as a compliment, although bear in mind it might not necessarily come across that way if you said it to someone in a bar.

 

For some reason, it seemed reminiscent of US sportscaster/wordsmith Howard Cosell’s well-meant comment re Arthur Ashe some years ago: “He’s one of the most mental athletes I’ve ever seen!”

 

20/10/2008

 

 

 

* At one point in the first International Rules test between Australia and Ireland, an Australian player was pulled up for a technical infraction, requiring umpire Stephen McBurnie to instruct him:

“You can’t bounce again after the toe-tap.”

Bruce McAvaney immediately translated for home viewers that bounces of the ball were restricted, but “toe-caps” were unlimited. Well, hopefully Mr McAvaney’s interpretation of the term “toe-capping” differs from that of certain other Australians.

 

A vague vestigial memory of some prior explanation of the Irish game suggests that thing they do when bouncing the ball off their foot on the run is actually called “soloing”. However, between all the tapping, bouncing, toe-capping and soloing, viewers would have forgiven for believing that they’d flipped away from the football, and accidentally stumbled onto a video of one of the more arcane classes at the Leggy Rhonda Burchmore Institute of Applied Tap-Dancing.

 

27/10/2008

 

 

 

* A few weeks ago, one of this column’s avowed favourites among sporting eccentrics, “The Dean of Mean” Keith Jardine, competed on the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s UFC 89 card in scenic Birmingham, England. During his ring introduction, the D of M was seen to fairly leer across the ring at his opponent Brandon Vera, and perform a singular and unorthodox physical act which could hardly have escaped the attention of viewers, although they may well have doubted the evidence of their own eyes.

 

As colour commentator Joe Rogan immediately clarified, with his customary technical precision:

“It’s supposed to give you good luck to tweak your nipples.”

This was the precise point at which certain viewers’ armchairs suddenly capsized. This evidently renowned theory may nonetheless have previously eluded those who move in less select social circles.

 

No stranger to lateral thinking, Rogan continued, “Think about that before you play the lottery,” thus provoking his broadcast colleague Mike Goldberg to respond in his booming US sportscaster baritone, “There’s going to be a lot of tweaking going on.”

 

As scarifying as the notion may be of an entire nation having a spirited rummage around the pectoral region during tomorrow’s Melbourne Cup telecast, it’s not the advent of nipple-tweaking itself that is necessarily the cause for concern. Put bluntly, if athletes accept that this practice inspires good luck, the worry is what they might come up with next to generate even more luck. Before the entire world of sport starts resembling a German-made buck’s night movie, administrators may want to follow boxing’s prudent example, and ensure that the hands of all competitors are safely encased in large padded gloves.

 

3/11/2008

 

 

 

* It was late on the final day of the Seven’s Spring racing carnival coverage that one felt a certain dull pop in the head region, experienced a sudden feeling of pressure releasing and a kind of lazy disorientation, and realised the brain had finally given way under pressure of constant helium.

 

Throughout the momentous racing events of the period, a number of brightly-dressed budgerigar women had floated around Flemington racecourse in a haze of bubbles and squawking to blather on about profiteroles, dresses and nothing in particular, and to be squawked at in return by nominal celebrities and race-goers alike.

 

We had already endured Seven’s designated budgerigars interviewing each other on more than one occasion, for Lord knows what reason exactly, and perhaps had good reason to assume things couldn’t get much worse from there, when the bottom of the barrel was suddenly reached with a resounding clunk. This consisted of the budgerigars interviewing people in queues about being in queues.

 

Around the time that Channel Seven’s glittering highpoint of the season devolves to citizens being quizzed while queuing for the toilet, it started to seem a genuine shame that John Logie Baird didn’t have the same talents as a prophet that he did as an inventor. Had he done so, he may very well have just put an axe through his collection of valves and tubes that was about to become television, leaving us with more free leisure time and less need for proprietary headache remedies.

 

10/11/2008

 

 

 

* On a brighter note, involving actual entertainment, was Seven racing analyst Simon Marshall’s summary of the final race on Stakes day:

“And it’s all over Beethoven.”

 

He failed to specify exactly what had landed all over Beethoven, but no doubt it came as a shock to the plucky deceased composer. Some might feel network television lacks for true innovation, but when anyone can combine “All over, Red Rover” and “Roll over Beethoven” into the one expression for all seasons, it certainly puts the critics right back in their place.

 

10/11/2008

 

 

 

* Boxing commentator Dave Bontempo remarked, during the opening bout of Sunday’s Joe Calzaghe-Roy Jones Jr undercard:

 

“Campos is going for it – that’s his short-circuit ticking.”

 

While this arguably marks a revolutionary moment in electronics, one feels strangely relieved that Dave Bontempo doesn’t moonlight on a bomb-defusing squad.

 

10/11/2008

 

 

 

* One thing they’ve got a lot of during the ABC cricket broadcasts is time. Basically, there’s a lot of time to talk. An English commentary chap asks a New Zealand colleague gent about the familial and geographical provenance of a young New Zealand player. The answer isn’t readily to hand, but it’s marked as a subject for future research.

A considerable amount of time is gently slaughtered investigating the increasing phenomenon of natural right-handers who bat left-handed, because, as the Englishman’s theory goes, the right hand is dominant in the left-handed stance, and thus it’s more natural for a right-hander to bat lefty than it would be for him to do the, err, natural thing. This is also marked as a subject for further research.

And so it goes. Balls are bowled, the wind caresses the effects mike, grass grows discreetly, and the ABC voices mutter jovially on throughout the lengthening day. Eventually, one can almost feel a personal old-fashioned pavilion forming magically about oneself as one dozes amidst the chirpy clubhouse chatter.

 

24/11/2008

 

 

 

* The coverage of the test was not noticeably improved by an ensuing lengthy break to check on the situation at two Sheffield Shield games, one of which had very little situation at all to speak of, given it was then ten minutes ahead of the designated starting time.

 

24/11/2008

 

 

 

* Day Two at the Adelaide Oval. Ian Chappell and Ashley Mallett were comfortably seated in the sun, discussing the latter’s new book about Clarrie Grimmett.

 

Back in the booth, Ian Healy comments to Richie Benaud, re Grimmett:

“I’m sure you had some moments with him when he was alive, Richie.”

 

One wonders what he thought the alternative might be, exactly. Richie Benaud just doesn’t come across as a séance or Ouija board kind of guy.

 

1/12/2008

 

 

 

* A little later, on the subject of team selection, Ian Healy memorably observed:

“I don’t know what ‘horses for courses’ means. It’s just a case of picking the best side for the situation.”

Err, actually that’s exactly what ‘horses for courses’ means.

 

1/12/2008

 

 

 

* One had to be impressed by the empirical scientific method employed by the ringside official at the Manny Pacquiao-Oscar De La Hoya fight, who repeatedly inquired of a patently dazed De La Hoya, “Do you have a headache, Oscar?”

Hmm, I’m no physician, but one might hazard a guess that having your cranium bombarded for eight rounds by one of the best professional boxers in the world might very well result in a headache. One could almost certainly rule out any theory that he got it from eating ice-cream too quickly.

 

8/12/2008

 

 

 

* Actually, terms relating to cricket were at something of a premium during Saturday’s 774 broadcast, due to the ABC going nuts over the annual Anywhere-to-Hobart sinkathon, which is just the sort of thing the ABC would do.

 

You were far more likely to hear about the “goose-neck”, than anything cricket-related. The goose-neck, according to my appallingly hand-written notes of the explanation in question, connects one of the broom, the boom or the bosun to the mast. Anyway, whatever a goose-neck does, it wasn’t doing it anymore, and as a result, the ship sank.

 

This was deemed to be something of a mishap by all concerned. “Unfortunately, Georgia has sunk,” was a summation repeated thoughtfully quite a number of times during the afternoon. You could make a decent case that the term “unfortunately” is either redundant in that sentence, or an understatement to the point of insult.

 

Meanwhile over at the Melbourne to Hobart sinktacular, our on-the-spot reporter breathlessly informed us, “I’m sitting on the start line in a boat.” A good plan, too. Without the boat, she may well have experienced what Yiddish-speaking yachting experts term, “A wet tuchas”.

 

29/12/2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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