January 23, 2014
The other day through work, I met an Indian born obstetrician. An obstetrician who according to him, found an opportunity due to a skills shortage of obstetricians in Australia.
I don’t know how, I don’t know why (maybe it’s due to late night alcohol or the obstetrician’s love for cricket) but for some reason Mark Nicholas came into my head.
A decade ago or thereabouts, iconic host and commentator of Nine’s cricket coverage, Richie Benaud was well into his seventies and was slowing down.
Channel Nine’s solution was to bring in someone that could slowly come in and take over from Benaud. The answer to that solution was to bring in Nicholas, the former Hampshire batsman.
At the time I checked his playing record only to discover that he never played Test cricket for England.
Nicholas played 377 first class matches where he scored 18,262 runs at 34.39. When you look at Nine’s stable of commentators, it was filled with ex-Test captains and a wicketkeeper who when he retired held the world record for most Test dismissals.
So Nicholas was up against individuals in the commentary box that had great pedigrees, while his pedigree was modest when comparing with the other commentators.
In the initial stages, Nicholas was co-hosting with Benaud. But eventually Nicholas made the position his own.
From a personal point of view, I don’t mind listening to Nicholas. He may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I actually think Nicholas has done a great job right throughout his time at Nine.
He is a polished smooth performer as host, and his commentary style is pretty balanced. It is definitely more balanced than some of the Australian commentators at Nine.
Former opener Michael Slater is the one commentator in my opinion who is very biased and least balanced. His conduct in a recent James Brayshaw segment was unprofessional.
With the passing of Tony Greig, the commentary box does need another perspective from a non-Australian angle and Nicholas provides it.
Even though it’s worked out well for Nine and Nicholas, the question that always remained with this author all this time is, why did Nine go overseas looking for someone to host their cricket coverage?
Is it that difficult to find someone here in Australia to anchor Nine’s cricket broadcast?
Does Australia have a skills shortage in finding an ex-cricketer or someone in the media that is capable to anchor?
You can see where I’m coming from when I mentioned earlier about the Indian-born obstetrician and why Nicholas came into my head.
With Nine getting Nicholas, what it did show was that it wasn’t a requirement to play Test cricket to host the coverage.
If that’s the case, in the future, why not go local, and give Channel Ten’s Mel McLaughlin a chance?
She has done a good job coming from Fox Sports where she hosted the A-League coverage in the last few years.
It is certainly not an easy transition to go from pay TV where the audience at times can be quite low, to free-to-air where the viewing audiences have been close to or over the million mark.
And to go from one sport to another wouldn’t be easy either.
What holds McLaughlin in good stead is that she is adaptable and knowledgeable not just with one sport, but with many sports.
She is more than just a pretty face and she is not a “token woman”.
She may not be as polished performer in front of the camera like Nicholas and she does stumble a bit from time to time, similar to Ten newsreader Sandra Sully.
But then again, McLaughlin wouldn’t be used to anchoring a sports coverage in front of big TV audiences.
If McLaughlin was given the opportunity to replace Nicholas at Nine, I reckon she would do a good job. Although she does need more experience. I would have her as host of the pre game and cricket shows, but not as commentator.
But in general, overall I like to see more and more women involved in sports broadcasting whether it’s hosting or commentating.
There’s always a perception out there that females don’t like sports, but as demonstrated on this site, we do see women commenting and posting articles.
Channel Nine’s cricket coverage sooner or later will need to embrace the fairer sex. We are well into the 21st century.