Summer is a truly glorious time to be alive. Whilst our northern hemisphere friends are just shaking off the last lingering gasps of their own summer months before entering into the hibernation that occupies the other nine months of their year, Australians are just getting ready for theirs. Summer brings out all that is good about Australia: new shit imports for the A-League (except for Emile Heskey, he was awesome), another season of Dancing with the Stars, race riots in Cronulla, and, of course, the cricket. So, so, much cricket.
When you are young summer seems to last forever. Those few weeks between school going out and Christmas coming round seemed to last eons, and then January stretched out for an eternity after that. Nowadays, with us older and worn down by the weekly repayments required on out latest iPhone purchases, summer seems a much briefer affair. But as far as cricket goes at least, this summer may well be the longest ever. It kicks off this weekend, with the Australian tour of the UAE. But, even more importantly, the world renowned Matador BBQ’s One Day Cup starts. Why is that even more important than watching David Warner et al flounder against spin in the UAE? Because it signals the return of cricket to Australian television screens. Welcome back into our lives Channel Nine. By God, how we haven’t missed you.
Cricket on Channel Nine used to be a constant in our lives. Richie, Tony, Bill, and Chappelli were as much a soundtrack to the summer months as the crickets outside, or the sound of a local anti-Muslim riot torching another foreign owned McDonalds. That’s all changed now (excepts for the riots, they’re still a regular feature). We have to admit not even knowing who half of the people in the Channel Nine commentary team are these days. Flicking over to their coverage usually provokes a response of “who is this prick Brayshaw, and why won’t he shut the fuck up?” Channel Nine has been replaced in our lives by the ABC commentary team, and much happier have we been for that change too.
But this season, for reasons we can’t quite recall (probably owing to the copious amounts of gin that were consumed beforehand), we have decided to do something radical. Something we never, ever, in our wildest dreams, thought we would even contemplate doing. We are going back to Channel Nine. But not only are we going back, we are going the full hog. Every match. Every day. Even every episode of the Cricket Show. We will be there, watching. That covers not only the upcoming domestic stuff, but also one day series against South Africa, India and England and then the World Cup after that. That’s a hell of a lot of cricket right there, so thank God it’s only India coming out for the Tests, so we’ve only needed to put aside two days (three at most) for each of those. And then, when someone has finally talked us down off the ledge, we’re going to come on here and write about it.
We should point out though, that this is not purely an exercise in self-harm; there is an educational aspect to all of this as well. We want to know if Channel Nine’s coverage of the cricket is really as bad as it’s made out to be. Honestly, we have no idea, because, like we said, we have been avoiding it for the radio coverage for years now. But this season is being marketed as something of a watershed on Channel Nine. Richie won’t be there (although he might get roped into giving live updates from home, which sounds like a guaranteed hilarious clusterfuck to us, so we dearly hope it happens), neither will Bill. There will even be a girl on there (they probably had to wait till Bill left before that particular change could happen, he was excitable enough as it was).
By going in with our eyes open, we hope to be able to answer a few questions. Such as is Ian Chappell as clued up as everyone thinks he is, or is it just because he’s surrounded by a bunch of clowns who have drunk too much happy juice that he sometimes comes across as profound? And is a commentary box comprised of Michael Slater, Ian Healy and James Brayshaw the worst crime ever committed upon an unsuspecting pubic?
We can’t promise that we will be successful in these endeavours. There’s a pretty high probability that instead the sheer volume of ‘laddish’ humour and casual product placement will destroy all attempts at objectivity, and future articles in this series will just descend into helpless weeping. But we can promise this: we will try. We really, really, will try. Gods knows we will most likely fail, but until we do, we are going to do our damned best to enjoy the cricket on Channel Nine. Who knows. maybe it will be just like how we remembered it being when we were young…
May the Lord have mercy upon us all.