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'Richie II' doesn't cut it

2012-01-06 10:00

Rob Houwing’s ‘Tops on the Telly’ column

There’s truly only one Richie Benaud, so whoever was going to become the anchorman of Australia’s Nine Network television coverage of cricket faced a herculean challenge.

Mark Nicholas seems more and more likely to assume the mantle on a long-term basis, considering that he’s again generally fronted the presentation (picked up by SuperSport for SA transmission purposes) of the four-Test series between the Baggy Greens and India thus far.

The 54-year-old is unusual, of course, in that he is an Englishman - some Aussies might automatically brand that a crime of a massively heinous nature - and a glaring exception to the glittering “Nine” panel in that he never played at the highest level of the game.

At least the staple Tony Greig, South African-born but a former England skipper, did ... and has lived in Oz for many years.

But Nicholas did captain Hampshire to several trophies and also briefly be in charge of the England ‘A’ team, so that is no special impediment to his right to call Test cricket – nor should it be, though it seems to help massively these days.

And I suppose you have to admire him, to a good degree, for determinedly forcing his way up the ladder to the top of the pecking order in the land of the old Ashes enemy.

Nicholas is just not my cup of tea, though. He does his level best to come across as urbane as the incomparable Benaud, and can hardly be accused of being inarticulate or lacking in gusto.

But I also find him just too suave and impeccably-groomed for his own good, and perhaps also a little too quick to trumpet all things Australian in a cricketing context - a case of not wanting to bite the hand that feeds you?

No wonder, in profiling him once, The Wisden Cricketer magazine in the UK wittily headlined the article “The Hair Apparent” ...

Rob’s Awesome Threesome:

1. South Africa v Sri Lanka, third cricket Test
Cape Town, to Saturday 10:30, SABC3, SS2 & SH2

This column was written as the Sri Lankans embarked on their follow-on innings, so whether the Test and series goes all the way to a suspenseful finish on Saturday very much remained to be seen. So maybe this is actually a good opportunity to remind you that the ODI series kicks in from Wednesday at the unusual venue for the Proteas of Boland Park (14:30, SuperSport2 and SABC3). The Paarl ground hasn’t seen service at international level since it staged Netherlands v Pakistan at the 2003 World Cup, so there’s a bit of a novelty value in the occasion – the DuToitskloof Mountains setting is as idyllic as ever even if the pitch can be a bit of a test of patience.

2. Equatorial Guinea v South Africa, friendly soccer international
Bata, Friday 18:00, SABC1

Some of the SABC1 programme schedules I’ve visited still stubbornly say “Intersexions” in the 20:30 slot, although newspaper reports suggest that there will, indeed, be live coverage of Bafana’s friendly against the Afcon co-hosts at the Estadio de Bata. (Never believe it until you actually see it, say I cynically.) There are also rumours of an altered 18:00 kick-off. The South African squad has an incredibly experimental look to it, albeit that a few stalwarts will also turn out, so it’s hard to know what to expect. Please Bafana, just offer us a bit more bottle than you showed in that depressing 2-1 reverse in Zimbabwe in mid-November!

3. Manchester City v Manchester United, FA Cup third round soccer
Manchester, Sunday 15:00, SS3, SH2 & Maximo

This was the amazing match-up announced as the Premiership teams finally and traditionally came out of the FA Cup hat for round three. It’s one against two in the league, and a clash of bitter derby rivals with both experiencing certain forms of “difficulty” recently. Although City have since bounced back with a 3-0 tonic against Liverpool, each of the protagonists has returned from New Year trips to the north-east with tails between legs, courtesy of Sunderland and Newcastle respectively, and United are reeling from back-to-back Premiership defeats. With so much football played of late, squad depth could be a factor in this tie, with City obviously better stocked right now ...

Sport24

Comments
  • Ewan - 2012-01-06 14:59

    @Rob, when you are able to commentate as well as Nicholas, then perhaps you would be able to criticise him. I don't recall your name being mentioned in sporting circles, let alone at first class level.

  • Phil - 2012-01-07 05:06

    Come on Ewan , Rob is entitled to his opinion and by voicing it here he is only doing his job. You dont have to agree with him. Cannot see much to disagree with either. Which cricket commentator on this planet would not pale when compared to the incomparable Benaud.

  • Lance - 2012-01-07 10:56

    The whole lot of them including the nrormally direct Healey and Chappel have been at pains to remain positive about the Autralian side. Not one word was muttered about the recent loss for the first time in 20 something years to New Zealand ( minus Vettori) and the 47 all out against SA which would have hurt quite a few of those dudes and none more so than Bill Lawry. Not a word. No this has undoubtedly been a PR conspiracy by Cricket Australia in building and trying to protect what must have become there worst nightmare. Mark Nicholas should stop commentating and become Public relations manager for Cricket in Australia so keen has he been over the years to heap priase and fit in with and be accepted by the Ozzies.

      Peter - 2012-01-07 19:25

      LANCE THEY ARE FIRST TO CONGRATULATE THE OTHER TEAM WHEN THEY LOSE, NOT LIKE US, ALWAYS CONTINUING ON WEEKS AFTER, LIKE THE RUGBY WORLD THEY ARE STILL BLAMING BRYCE LAWRENCE FOR THEIR OWN WEAKNESS OF NOT WINNING, AUSSIE WAS CLEVER AND SAW THE REF WAS HAVING A BAD DAY AND PLAYED TO HIS CALLING OF THE DAY, NOT ARGUING ALL DAY LIKE JOHN SMIT, JUST DUMB ROCK HEADS

      Phil - 2012-01-08 07:28

      Lance I think it is good thing to remain positive ...after all they have a lot to be positive about. They always have those like Tony Greig to pee on their batteries when they get too far OTT. But at least they are not blaming Bryce Lawrence for everything I think we would do better to concentrate on our own sports sides and forget this vendetta we seem to have against all things australian ..........at least until we can beat them at something.

  • Mike - 2012-01-07 12:11

    Rob ..I think you will find Australians are far more accepting of other people's point of view and slightly more worldly than your average South African. I think the moulding of this new Aussie team is quite interesting they sure have had some massive failures but then again some massive victories..

      Peter - 2012-01-07 19:20

      MIKE as I SAID YESTERDAY OUR COMMENTATORS ARE VERY DULL COMPARED TO THE AUSSIES, THEY LACK HUMOUR, KNOWLEDGE AND FINALLY THEY ARE ALWAYS PRAISING OUR PLAYERS WHEN MOST OF THEM DO NOT RATE PRAISE, AS WE LOSE MORE THAN WE WIN AND WE NEVER STOP COMPLAINING ABOUT THE UMPIRE AND SO CALLED BAD DECISIONS WE ARE KNOW AS THE MOANERS OF WORLD SPORT, QUITE EMBARRASSING PLUS WE DO NOT KNOW THE RULES, CRICKET AND SOCCER, LEARN THE RULES BEFORE CELEBRATING A WIN YOU DIDNT GET, SOCCER HOW STUPID

  • Brigitte - 2012-01-08 09:30

    I really enjoy Mark Nicholas and wish more presenters were half as good as he is. Instead we're left with morons like Jackman and Haysman. Pomi is great but there really is room for more positive people in our tv coverage.

      Peter - 2012-01-08 13:08

      MAKE AN OFFER TO SOME AUSSIE PLAYERS WHO HAVE RETIRED AND I AM SURE THEY WILL BRIGHTEN UP OUT CRICKET COMMENTRIES

  • Bradley - 2012-01-08 12:44

    Listen, I love pulling the piss outta the ozzie commentators and get upset when we overdub our commentators on the cricket AND the rugby! As for playing the top level of cricket, it doesn’t mean jack in the end of the day because as long as we give Mister "one-eye" Cullinan, and mister "anything to get on the mic" Mike Haysman we don’t have a leg to stand on! NOT TO MENTION the radio 2000 team of rank amateurism (except the stats man. he is class) For anyone interested in laughing themselves silly at the expense of the channel 9 commentary team and just generally brilliant cricket humour- look up the 12th man by Billy Birmingham-classic Ps. Pom is great

      Peter - 2012-01-08 13:06

      NICE ARTICAL BRADLEY, AS YOU SAY ITS GREAT TO TAKE THE PISS OUT OF AUSSIE COMMENTATORS BUT AT LEAST THEY KEEP US ALL AWAKE WITH ALL THE LAUGHS AND SAYINGS THEY HAVE, WE DONT HAVE THAT LUXURY, AND THEIR KNOWLEDGE IS SECOND TO NONE WHENIT COMES TO CRICKET, I THINK THEY COULD TELL YOU THE LAST TIME ANYONE FARTED, THATS HOW GOOD THEY ARE

  • Dave - 2012-01-09 09:13

    I fully agree with you, Rob. He sounds like he is kissing Aussie butt the whole time!

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