Five cricket commentators and their favourite phrases

Benaud was a well-loved figure
Benaud was a well-loved figure

Cricket is one of those reassuring sports where long-time fans could take enormous comfort and solace in the fact that very little was likely to change. Beginning from the game’s very early history, idiosyncrasies became practices, which became rituals.

Once those rituals were established, they would not change merely for the sake of change. More recently, though, it seems cricket is afflicted by veritable moral perversion. The inviolable is being flouted – first-class games under lights, pink balls, talk of doing away with the toss.

Also Read: Rating India's Top 10 commentators

One thing that hasn’t changed, however, are the individuals who bring the game into our living rooms via television or radio. Over time, cricket commentators have developed a habit for a certain phrase, or a word or two, and these locations have become important parts of both their identity and of the image of cricket as a whole.

It is difficult to imagine these persons without thinking of their catchphrases; their appeal is not quite as pervasive as “What’s up, doc?” but fans take delight (or sometimes annoyance) when these phrases are spoken. Here are five commentators and their favourite phrases.

#1 Richie Benaud – “Morning, everyone”

Richie Benaud’s pure mastery over the art of commentary lay in his marvellous (pun mildly intended) economy of language delivered in pleasant, lilting tones. It is, therefore fitting that one of his most well-known phrases was so utterly simple. A fairly prosaic sounding morning greeting to tuned in fans sounded like a treat in the voice of the great Australian, no matter where you were in the world.

There was no drama, no great weight to his voice, no frills and in the matter of a single second it was over, but Benaud’s favourite uttering has become one of the best-loved rituals in cricket. He will continue to be missed.

#2 Ravi Shastri – “That went like a tracer bullet!”

Ravi Shastri has a love for tracer bullets unmatched by anyone else
Ravi Shastri has a love for tracer bullets unmatched by anyone else

Not all catchphrases in commentary have acquired the near-divine status of Benaud’s. Former Indian international Ravi Shastri is one of the most recognisable voices in the game today, but his dramatic, weighty utterances delivered in a booming voice have been light-heartedly been lampooned and poked fun at. It seems that all deliveries struck to the fence in Shastri’s world travel at the speed of a tracer bullet – with no exceptions.

Find the full list of all IPL 2021 commentators here.

Perhaps it is about time we added ‘tracer bullet’ as a measure of speed to the International System of Units.

#3 Bill Lawry – “Got him, yes!”

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 15:  Bill Lawry speaks after being inducted into Hall of Fame during the 2010 Allan Border Medal at Crown Casino on February 15, 2010 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Robert Prezioso/Getty Images)
Bill Lawry followed up his great cricket career with a great commentary career

The former Australian captain Bill Lawry has many accolades to his name, including 13 Test hundreds, a 1-3 series win in India and the ‘privilege’ of being whitewashed by the last official South African side before their apartheid ban featuring Messrs Graeme Pollock and Barry Richards. He is also known for a long commentary career, during which he came to be identified with a set of simple but emphatic catchphrases.

Perhaps others were not like his exultant outburst when a player was dismissed. A simple cry of “Got him, yes!” was enough to put a seal on the success of a bowler’s mission.Combined with other phrases such as “It’s all happening!”, Lawry’s pronouncements have become memorable.

#4 Tony Greig – “All the way for six!”

KINGSTON, JAMAICA - MARCH 10:  Former England Cricket Captain Tony Greig poses during the England net practice at the Sabina Park Cricket Ground on March 10, 2004 in Kingston, Jamaica. (Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images)
Tony Greig braved illness during his time in the world of cricket

Tony Greig was such a lively character in the little universe that cricket has carved for itself in the larger world outside. As a former England all-rounder and captain, Greig’s later work in the commentary box proved that his talents were manifold.

Also Read: 5 successful cricketers who braved illnesses and disabilities

His gravelly voice lent a unique quality to the commentary panel, and his excitement was infectious. When a batsman would play a particularly delightful stroke for maximum runs, Greig could often be heard suffixing “all the way for six!" to it, especially with a long, lowing, drawn out “all”.

#5 Geoffrey Boycott – “My mum/gran could have caught that in her pinny!”

LEEDS, ENGLAND - MAY 21:  Former Yorkshire and England batsman Geoffrey Boycott ahead of day three of the 1st Investec Test match at Headingley on May 20, 2016 in Leeds, England.  (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Boycott is one of the most recognisable figures in commentary

The former England opening batsman Geoffrey Boycott enjoyed a long career at the top of the England and Yorkshire batting orders and found, remarkably, almost equal success in the commentary box - if only for the gems that were his favourite phrases that have been repeated and good-naturedly reinvented.

The elder female members of Boycott's family, if one was to believe what the man himself said on the mic, were excellent, international standard fielders who would simply gobble up chances most others would miss. A ‘pinny’ is a sleeveless piece of clothing that is worn on top of other clothes for protective and/or decorative reasons, like an apron. Given than the ladies wouldn’t even need to use their hands, one wonders why England did not contact them to represent their country on the cricket field.

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