Monday, January 18, 2010

Behind the scenes

Whilst the Federer's and Nadal's busily entertain their die-hard fans, I would like to note some valuable work that goes on behind the scenes.

Imagine a football match with no half-time show.

Imagine an F1 race with no build-up before or after the race.

Imagine a snooker match without a professional voice explaining the strategies and positioning of each pot.

Imagine a complicated rugby match without a commentator to describe the action.

Yes, pundits, commentators and presenters enrich the viewing experience dramatically, build tension and excitement, and fill us in on information relating to the spectacle.

I remember in my youth listening to Radio Five Live's coverage of Manchester United's matches which I couldn't see on TV thanks to Sky's expensive packages. I would huddle around the radio in the back room or in my bedroom and listen intently as Alan Green commented in such rich detail that I felt I was there in the stadium and I could picture precisely how the match was going. It was an absolute pleasure to hear Alan Green bringing the sounds, tension and elation into my ears.

Andy Gray now does an excellent job commentating for Sky TV on all the major Premier League football matches. We are fortunate enough here in Malaysia to have Sky TV's coverage and the voice of Andy Gray, who provides us with the most informative analysis of key moments in each match. His knowledge is power.

I remember watching World Snooker Finals being contested by Stephen Hendry, Jimmy White, John Higgins and Ronnie O'Sullivan back in the day, and the voice of Clive Everton guided us through the match, frame by frame, ball by ball, as I watched on my tiny old TV set at 12 midnight in my bedroom.

And who can ever forget the great Murray Walker, commentator king of Formula 1. His energy, dedication, passion and excitement endeared us all to him and truly brought Formula 1 racing to life. Hearing him was just as good as watching the drivers whizz around the circuits at breakneck speed. How on earth would we have appreciated the complexities and felt the passion without Murray Walker?

Which brings me to the Australian Open 2010. For the first time this year, I became re-acquainted with Alan Wilkins and Vijay Amritraj as they brought us the night session live from Melbourne. Their camaraderie, banter and insights are infectious and I find myself as always, smiling and laughing with them as they bring us the tennis on the screen. In fact, their presenting in the studio and commentating from the booth is almost as good as the tacticians who delight us on the court. I always look forward to seeing them during each Grand Slam, especially how Alan Wilkins loves testing Vijay, albeit with a little jest, in the 'Vijay on the spot' segment. They have the humour, the knowledge, the information, and the ultimate passion and appreciation for sport. I would willingly watch them speak about tennis for hours.

They bring each Grand Slam to life with their vigour and enthusiasm. So here's to you, all presenters, and commentators, thanks for making our sporting viewing all the much greater!

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