By Tim Hancox
“I can’t believe what’s happening visually, in front of my eyes.” Are such comments like these by Murray Walker what makes F1 what it is? How important are such infamous sports commentators to the sport itself? I have often turned off radio commentary in the car because Kas Naidoo is annoying me, and would rather ignore the cricket until somebody better like the great Neil Manthorp takes over. There are also a few rugby commentators that drive me up the wall. Warren Brosnihan doesn’t stop shouting at me, and I’m inclined to get quite offended. Could somebody teach him about the intricate workings of a microphone? Joel Stransky has improved, but still sticks to his three-word vocabulary of “absolute”, “outstanding” and “Hougaard”. There are other adjectives Joel, and Hougaard is not the answer to the number 10 conundrum. Hugh Bladen may not be the next Bill McLaren, but he does enjoy his “brilliant, brilliant, brilliant!” and after a few beers Blades does miraculously transform into superhero Captain Obvious. This is why we love the voice of a pro such as the legendary Murray Walker with his pearls like “You might not think that’s cricket, and it’s not, it’s motor racing.” Cricket has a legend in Ritchie Benaud, complete with his snow white hair and analysis on Shane’s “shpin” and other “shimply marvelloush” wisdom. Benaud is the encyclopaedia of cricket. Combine him with the brash Geoffrey Boycott and you’ve got a commentary team made in heaven. Boycott will call a spade a spade and often has an outburst of “useless!” We need more of this is the kind of straight talk in sport. One of the greats must be cycling’s Phil Liggett. That man, together with the narrator for Heroes, has the best voice in the world. They can read me bedtime stories any day. He had a classic in last year’s Tour de France; when Norwegian sprinter Thor Hushovd won a stage he exclaimed: “There he goes the God of thunder himself!” Commentator’s one-liners really do add so much to the game. Comments like “The bowlers Holding, the batsman’s Willie” live on and are remembered long after we forget what happened in the match itself. Most sports enthusiasts will be following the Super 14 and listening to the wrap from Down Under. The Aussies, I find, tend to be dependent on some emergency clichés, while the Kiwis like giving nicknames to all their stars. Murray Mexted stands out amongst them as the voice of rugby and the only Kiwi opinion everyone respects. But I digress, because the man I miss most really is Murray Walker. His enthusiasm could get anyone excited when he lets rip with “The Monaco Grand Prix is go go go!” The man is a legend. He could get me excited about Michael Schumacher’s new hair cut. His most priceless quote must be “I don’t make mistakes. I make prophecies which immediately turn out to be wrong.” Cheers to that!