Sky humiliates Nick Knight

Sky has spent the last few years busily redefining what people understand by the phrase ‘abject cricket commentary’.

It’s a peculiar mix of vulgar, boring, sycophantic, miserable and deeply stupid – seemingly devised by an ad executive via late-80s Radio 1 controller with little understanding of, or fondness for, cricket.

Sky has led the way in gaudifying cricket, which is something I don’t have a problem with in the right context and if it’s done well. WWE American wrestling, for example, is brilliant at this sort of pageantry. Cricket, especially UK cricket, isn’t.

Take a look, for example, at this spot from a recent 20/20 game at a wet Hove, astonishingly described by David Lloyd using the word ‘razzamatazz’.

This looks a bit like something you might expect to see in the Carribean, only it doesn’t really work in this context. It’s a fine example of cricket people just misjudging what works in different situations in cricket.

A bronzed booty jiggling around in front of a load of bare-chested supporters in a pool in Barbados is a tad different from a wet Bank Holiday weekend on the south coast with an ass somewhere between pornographic and Carry On film being gyrated in front of three middle-class kids and their Mum, all wearing cagoules.

Here’s another example of cricket people getting it wrong. It features the hapless Nick Knight – really, what did do to deserve this? – doing some sort of cricket dance based on umpiring signals to a remix of Dreadlock Holiday.

To suggest that this doesn’t work is to radically overestimate the magnitude of how much the phrase ‘this doesn’t work’ can accurately convey how much something doesn’t work. It’s pitiful, and it beggars belief that whoever is in charge of of cricket at Sky didn’t immediately fire everyone within a ten-mile radius the first time he watched this. It’s like seeing Gordon Brown trying to convince people to vote for Labour by dancing to House of Pain.

Just how appalling it is was helpfully pointed out by the Sky commentary team yesterday, when they spent the whole day taking the piss out of it. And if the Sky cricket commentary team – the most miserable, humourless, back-stabbing, fogeyish bunch on the box – are taking the piss out of you, you really are in trouble.

Sky’s 20/20 Cricket World Cup advert with David Lloyd

david lloyd

This is in many ways a good advert. It’s funny – on the face of it – slick and has a good concept behind it. And it’s advertising something I like – cricket. But for various reasons I’m not feeling positive about the 20/20 World Cup and this advert features a man who, increasingly, makes me want to give people Chinese burns.

There’s probably a lot of good things to say about Lloyd: a fine cricketer; useful coach; insightful broadcaster; and probably a nice guy. However, Lloyd seems to have made some kind of Faustian pact with the Sky money men and now plays the part of some kind of village idiot in the Sky commentary box. This is bad enough in test cricket. In 20/20 Lloyd goes up to 11.

This advert is Sky’s coverage in a nutshell. Trying to make cricket sexy by making it loud, colourful, brash and full off that fast edit stuff that everyone does these days. I’m all for trying to make cricket more entertaining, but really Sky’s efforts just irritate the hell out of me. They’re a bit like an embarrassing relative getting drunk at a party and dancing to Madness to prove they’re still hip.

Lloyd has clearly been appointed Idiot-in-Chief for the 20/20, for which he breaks out an array of stupid catchphrases and adopts a laddish aspect that extends to making lascivious comments about breasts at any given opportunity. But mainly he just shouts. “Six!” “Out!” “Crikey!”

I’m also perturbed by the sight of Lloyd in this advert wearing the device that opticians use to test lenses. Coupled with his grinning lunatic face and slightly unhinged appearance, it could well be the face of a particularly deranged mass murderer in a slasher film. Perhaps various cricket puns could be used by the insane Lloyd when he dispatches victims. “How’s that for a cut?!” “I’m going to remove your googlies!” “Now you’ve got two short legs!” That sort of thing. But I digress.

The ad sums up everything you need to know about Sky’s coverage. You may not see a problem. Fair enough. But the whole darn shooting match simply makes me want to turn off the TV and bury my head in an old Wisden.