The Board will review its policy of having neutral commentators for all home series in future. According to a top Board official, the current practice of having a neutral commentator has not gone down well with some of the players contracted by the Board.
The presence of Jonathan Trott in the commentary team for the current series has meant that one Indian cricketer had to be shown the door. In a move that is not followed by any other broadcaster, the board has been seeking the services of neutral commentators in all the home series this year.
Former New Zealand pacer Simon Doull was part of the commentary team for the first two Tests against Sri Lanka before Trott replaced him for the third Test and the three ODIs. Former Australian opener Matthew Hayden had commentated in all the three Tests against Sri Lanka.
Graeme Smith, the former South African captain, will join Sunil Gavaskar, Sanjay Manjrekar, Murali Karthik and Russel Arnold in the commentators’ box for the forthcoming T20 series against Sri Lanka.
Throwing light on opposition tactics
Arnold is part of the team on behalf of Sri Lanka. “He brings Sri Lankan perspective to the broadcast,” said a former player-commentator.
This is the norm followed by most broadcasters - inviting a player from the visiting team to discuss their thinking process. However, why include Smith when South Africa is not involved in the series?
“India is not playing South Africa. What Sri Lankan perspective would Smith bring to the broadcast?” asked a commentator.
Most broadcasters employ just one commentator as a “guest” from the visiting team. Often, Gavaskar is the only name putting forth the Indian perspective when the team tours nations like Australia, England, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and the West Indies.
Of course, Gavaskar is widely respected for his incisive views on the game apart from the technical analysis of the day’s play.
Not a policy
The Board official assured, “It was an issue regarding the availability of commentators. It is not a policy but a one-off arrangement. In any case, we have taken note of the feedback and will address the issue in the future. We are also keen to have more and more Indian players in the commentators’ team.”
The change in policy would facilitate the promotion of players who regularly give their services to domestic games. There is also a move to introduce more home commentators in the next edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).