Friday, April 07, 2006

I'm Hearing Voices

The lengthening of several holes at Augusta National is not the only controversial change Masters-watchers are coming to terms with this year. BBC have this year diversified Gary Lineker's portfolio by giving the erstwhile golden-boy of English football and keen-golfer the plum anchor gig at the Masters following Steve Rider's departure to ITV. However, where the velvet-voiced Rider's unflappability and vaguely beige smoothness were tailor-made for the genteel proceedings at Augusta, something about Lineker's rather flat East Midlands patter - maybe the fact that it is usually the soundtrack for the more proletarian delights of Match of the Day - jarred with the azalea and pine visuals.

So should the familiar voices of sport not be allowed outside their own regular beats, or should this cross-pollination be encouraged? Let's look at these hypothetical examples:

Bill McClaren & "One Man and His Dog":
One imagines the great Scotsman - doyen of rugby commentators for almost fifty years -enjoying his retirement in his native Hawick, bestriding the Cheviots on wintry afternoons with a loyal hound by his side and reminiscing over the many great contests to which he lent his sturdy burr down through the years. Who better then to front the surely inevitable return of the sadly lamented BBC 2 Sunday evening fixture, in which similarly ruddy-faced rural types demonstrated mystical telepathy with keen-eyed border collies for the purpose of speeding daft sheep to the succour of the pen? "He's a good laddie. Well done Shep!"

Sid Waddell & Ice Skating
The Geordie who made the use of similes into an art form ("It's like trying to stop a waterbuffalo with a pea-shooter) and critically acclaimed scriptwriter (he wrote Jossie's Giants) is frankly in need of a new challenge away from games of misspent youth. His arrival into the chintzy world of ice skating would be a breath of fresh air for that sport. Rather than Barry Davies haughtily moaning "Wonderful!" over the lutzes and salkos, Waddell would craft gems like "the Russian was like a Sputnik in tights on that jump," or "ooh, the Canadian girl landed like a hippo with vertigo there."

Dan Maskell & Formula One
Ok, he's dead. But is a crime that the voice of tennis never stretched himself and subbed for Murray Walker for an odd Grand Prix here and there. Imagine, six laps of racing, not a word. Then Prost overtakes Mansell in the straight and Maskell exclaims "oh, I say!". Class.

Michael O Muircheartaigh & Snooker
"Davis off the seat, takes the cue, approaches the table. Still Davis now at the top of the table, checks the angle - it's a protractor he needs, not a cue - hits the shot but its wide, wide of the pocket and now here comes Higgins, the man from Beal Feirsde, round and round the table he goes, he looks once, he looks twice - he stops for a drink - now back to the table and the ball's in the pocket, its a point! And now the black, the colour of death but Higgins' hopes are alive and kicking now....


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