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Monday, December 15, 2014

the first female summariser on Radio 4 Cricket and the female commentator

BBC Radio was the first broadcaster to cover every ball of a Test match. Live cricket had been broadcast since 1927, but originally it was thought that Test match cricket was too slow for ball-by-ball commentary to work. Test Match Special (also known as TMS) is a British radio programme covering professional cricket, broadcast on BBC Radio 4 (long wave), Five Live Sports Extra (digital) and the internet to the United Kingdom and (where broadcasting rights permit) the rest of the world. TMS provides ball-by-ball coverage of most Test cricket, One Day International, and Twenty20 matches and tournaments involving the England cricket team.

Speaking is an art.  There is an oft repeated saying ‘women generally speaking, are generally speaking’.  Some of the famous commentators who readily come to mind are : Richie Benaud, Alan Mcgivlary, Brian Johnston, John Arlott, Henry Bloefeld, Christopher Martin Jenkins, Tony Cozier, Geoff Boycott, Tony Greig, Jonathan Agnew, Narottam Puri, Harsha Bhogle, Baloo Allagannan, B Ramamurthi – there are so many cricketers wielding the mike these days, the prominent Indians amongst them being :  Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri, Sanjay Manjrekar, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Krish Srikkanth, L Siva and ……….

Then there is the ‘Expert Commentator’ ……. In early days of DD, we had Lala Amarnath, CD Gopinath and ex-players churning out their views on the shot, wicket and more.  Right from the early days, ‘expert commenter’ or ‘Summariser’ has been a luxurious addition to the radio commentary.   In BBC, the recent summarisers include : Vic Marks, Phil Tuffnel, Alec Stewart, Michael Vaughan, Greame Swann, Angus Fraser, Mike Selvey, Greame Fowler and now ……… Isa Guha – who ?

The maiden who's joined the Test Match Special boys - Isa Guha becomes first female summariser on iconic Radio 4 cricket programme – she is first ever female expert summariser on Radio 4 cricket.  It was once the preserve of old men chortling and bantering their way through each Test run in between rounds of fruit cake – into which a women has made inroads.  In what is a major innovation since the programme was broadcast in 1957, British-Indian Miss Guha is Test Match Special’s first regular female summariser.   As summariser, Miss Guha will make expert comment after an over has been bowled, while her only other female colleague Alison Mitchell provides ball-by-ball commentary during the over.

She told the Radio Times that she was aware of the age, ethnicity and gender differences between her and the other Test Mach Special resenters, and added: ‘The generation gap makes the broadcast different. The woman with Bengal lineage Isa Guha was the first Asian to play for England, making her debut in 2002 at the age of 17. She was the number one bowler in the women's world rankings in 2008.  She played in eight Tests (29 wickets) and 83 ODIs (101) besides 22 Twenty20 internationals, and was a member of the England team that won the ‘Ashes’ in 2005, the Women’s World Cup and World Twenty20 in 2009. She balanced cricket with academics, a trait Guha continues even now while pursuing a doctorate in neuroscience.

The other woman, Alison Mitchell is Britain's leading female cricket commentator and has toured to every Test playing nation to cover the England team for Radio 5 live and Test Match Special. Alison also contributes to the Wisden Almanac.

So lot fairer now on the commentary box too…

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

20th Nov. 2014.

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