- author, Jaspal Singh
- position, BBC Correspondent
Ashwin’s first ball is high in the air then the ball hits the off stump, the ball turns a bit, Steve Smith gets on the front foot, great drive, boundary outside and four runs.
Something like this is the style of radio commentary. To show the viewers a glimpse of the match and make them feel like they are watching the match themselves.
In cricket every four-six has to be shown, in football and hockey the players and the speed of the ball have to be shown to reach the goal post.
The faster the ball is moving, the more enthusiastic the commentary can be.
TV commentary is a little different, as there is also a view of the match. Game reviews are more on TV but whether it’s a TV or radio game, commentary plays an important role along with the players and rules.
Now if you are watching a match outside the stadium, you probably can’t imagine watching a match without commentary.
The age of digital broadcasting has also ushered in live text commentary, in which the commentator brilliantly narrates the entire match through the magic of words.
Increasing prevalence of broadcasting
Many leagues have been formed in other countries of the world including India. There are many cricket leagues in India these days. IPL is the famous league of BBC. Along with this, leagues have also been formed at the state level.
Apart from cricket, football, hockey, badminton and kabaddi leagues have expanded the range of sports in India.
The sports broadcasting industry is constantly growing. The commentary box often sees former players commentating on the match. But now slowly those people who have not played a match but have a good understanding of the game are also coming into the field of commentary.
To become a sports commentator one must possess certain qualities and skills.
In this report, we are trying to find out from the experts what skills are required to become a sports commentator.
We spoke to sports commentator Raman Bhanot about this.
A sports commentator for over two decades, Raman Bhanot has commented on many major international and national tournaments including Cricket World Cup, Olympics, Asian Games.
It is important to understand the game
Asked what skills a sports commentator should possess, Raman Bhanot considered the most important skill to be understanding the game.
He says, “The most important thing is to understand the game you are commentating on. Every sport has a different way of doing commentary.”
For example, the way of commentating on cricket is different from the way of commenting on football. You have to understand it enough to catch its rhythm.
A grip on language
Raman Bhanot says, “Language is also the second most important. You need to have a good vocabulary, with the help of which you can explain your point. You should have a good command of the language. The third feature is sound. Does it sync well with the rhythm of the game or not? An understanding of the game helps in that. Some sports require commentary to be done in a loud voice while in others in a low voice. There is no high pitch commentary in tennis. No matter how big the score is.
Must know the rules of the game
Apart from these three qualities, to be a good commentator you need to have good skills, says Raman Aga.
“You have to have a basic understanding of the game and know its basic rules so that people can understand you.”
Former volleyball player Neeti Rawat currently does commentary in many sports. He has done commentary in Hindi for NBA.
He says, “A good commentator can always have a good dialogue. They can tell a story. and confident.”
“Thirdly you must have a good knowledge of the sport you are talking about. If you don’t even have basic knowledge of it, you may find it difficult to become a commentator.”
How does a commentator prepare?
When a commentator expresses his thoughts through the medium of a game, the entire team works against him and the commentator himself is well prepared.
On how a commentator prepares, Raman Bhanot says, “There is no substitute for homework. You should prepare for the match. The work done behind the scenes is evident on the screen.”
“Every second counts in commentary. It is important to understand that you are giving information that fits the game that is playing on the screen.”
Raman Bhanot says that identification of players is very important in pre-match preparation.
He says, “Cricket is played with a set process. You know who is batting and who is bowling.”
“The challenge is in a sport like hockey where substitutions are made quickly. At that time you should remember the identity of all the players present on the field.”
Real names of players should be known
About preparing for a match, Neeti says, “If I have to commentate in a basketball game, I read about the recently played match. I also keep track of which players are in which team. Also what is the demand of that game and people want to know something about its special player or not.”
“Sometimes a sports channel also organizes commentators’ workshops for a particular tournament. They tell us what to say, how to say it and where to stop. Commentators also have to prepare to pronounce the players’ names. Its homework is done.”
Division of work among commentators
When asked about the role of commentators in the commentary box, he said, “There are maximum 2-3 commentators in the commentary box. One of them is the main one. He has knowledge of the game set. He explains what this match is about. Whatever the outcome of the match, what will be the impact.”
“When the performance of the players or giving more information about them is also the job of the lead commentator. Another is an expert commentator who reviews the game. Expert commentators are often ex-players who explain the reasons behind what is happening and what might happen in a match.”
Raman says that often the onus is on him to maintain the excitement of the match.
“When nothing is happening in Tests we discuss stories related to a player’s record, action or game. The support of the production team is taken for that.”
Importance of impartiality for commentators
Emotions are attached to the game but the commentator has to remain neutral.
About this sports journalist and commentator Adeshkumar Gupta says, “A commentator in sports has to be impartial. Even if his country’s team is playing he should control his emotions and talk only about what is happening in the match.”
Is play required for commentary?
Is it necessary for the commentator to have been a player himself?
About this, Raman says, “If you want to go into the field of commentary, it means you are interested in the game. It may even be that you have played that game. It is necessary to play at any level to understand it well. If you haven’t played then the role is limited. You cannot play the role of an expert. You can discuss with an expert but you cannot become an expert yourself.”
What did digital media change?
The form of commentary has also changed with digital media. About this Raman says, “Due to digital media, viewers want more information in less time. The audience you are commenting for also matters.”
Niti says, “Now with the expansion of sports leagues, job opportunities in the commentary sector have increased. Now he does commentary not only on cricket but also on other sports. The prevalence of digital media has also benefited, with those who cannot become commentators directly on TV trying their hand at YouTube or other digital channels.”
Increase commentary opportunities for women
Commentary opportunities for women have increased now. Commentators were seen earlier in cricket but now their number has increased.
Neeti Rawat says about this, “Now a former women’s player also comments. Earlier this field was dominated by men. Women’s commentary has been accepted by people. However, there is still a lot to be done to bring women forward. Their knowledge and confidence is appreciated.”