Last December, whilst watching the Australia South African Test Match in Perth, I listened with interest to the commentators on Channel 9 have a go at one or two of the South African players for not adjusting quick enough to the bowling conditions on a decidedly different WACA Wicket… this was during the first hour of play (in which Ntini had already snatched the wicket of Australian opener Matthew Hayden). Surely enough common sense would prevail to allow any touring team (especially the ones touring Australia) to be allowed to play with a bit of nerves during a tour opening match. This got me thinking- where were the South African commentators for this series? Channel 9 had relied on several former Australian greats to call the game, and a possible “neutral” Englishman in the form of Tony Gregg to provide information on the South Africans. In my correspondence with a few South Africans who were disappointed as it was with their team’s mediocre tour Down Under, they made it clear that the excitement and wonder of a tour they were looking forward to for five years, was “ruined by the biting and often unnecessary comments from those with the microphone.” They had also alluded to the fact that South Africa had a disastrous catching season which was continually highlighted on Channel 9, but catchable drop chances by players like Adam Gilchrest and Mike Hussy were repeated not more than three times a piece.
The Indian tour to Pakistan involved Michael Holding behind the Microphone, but one felt that he was there as a spectator of the game and not there to promote the cause of the Indians or the Pakistanis. I continue to wonder if and why the SABC in South Africa or Supersport pay channel should even invite Ian Healy and Ian Chappell to call the Australian games being played across South Africa later on this and next month when South Africa themselves could use former players such as Donald, Symcox and Cullingham, and supposed “neutrals” like Robin Jackman, Lee Irvine and Neil Johnson.
Why then I asked myself, have a new breed of cricket fans not emerged. Everyone has their own opinion and certainly are entitled to it. A fan which enjoys the game so much that they wake themselves at three in the morning on a cold winters morning to support their team, a fan which is depressed for a week after his or her team loses an important match, a fan which allows themselves to applaud for both a Chinese Cut or a majestic cover drive by the opposing team and a fan who can say without hesitation that their team was outclassed by Zimbabwe or Bangladesh, a cricket fan who is by all standards, an Observer.
An article will appear on this website every month celebrating the continuance of the “Observers”. Readers can expect a complete view of issues in the cricketing world from an eye which is designed not to discriminate against nations, but to encourage the ultimate “Gentleman’s Game” to indeed remain that way.
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