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Zak Yacoob admonishes TV cricket commentators: 'Blind people are watching too'

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Former Constitutional Court Judge Zak Yacoob at Wits University on March 6, 2013.
Former Constitutional Court Judge Zak Yacoob at Wits University on March 6, 2013.
(Gallo Images/The Times/Moeletsi Mabe)
  • Television cricket commentators are in hot water with CSA interim board chairperson Judge Zak Yacoob for their lack of description.
  • Yacoob reminded TV commentators that blind people, like him, were watching too.
  • Yacoob was appointed the CSA interim board chairperson by Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa last week.

Television cricket commentators, possibly the world over, are in hot water with the new Cricket South Africa (CSA) interim board chairperson Judge Zak Yacoob.

It's been in a week since he began chairing the nine-member committee, appointed by Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa, that is tasked with returning CSA to its former glory but Yacoob couldn't resist calling TV commentators into the proverbial principal's office.

Yacoob said TV commentators had developed a trend of lacking description of a game when cricket is on, which has done blind followers, like him, a huge disservice over the years.

He said the mic men and women could make a bit more effort in their descriptive language, tell the full story of the game, and be more cognisant of the visually impaired fans also sat in front of their set top boxes.

"One of the things I used to absolutely enjoy is listening to cricket commentary. That's also one of the problems now," said Yacoob.

"I don't mind having TV commentators on instead of radio but the TV commentators must please bear in mind that there are people who can't see, who are watching the game.

"Therefore, they must give a little more information than they do, just to keep the people who can't see [abreast]. As when somebody is bowling, they can say that the person is running up to bowl now.

"At least when a ball is bowled, they can describe it in their own words and then when it goes between second and third slip, slightly closer to third but away from second, they should tell us those things.

"They should make a bit more of an effort. Now, what TV commentators do is let the game roll on without commentary."

Yacoob harked back to the years when radio commentary was king, when he first fell in love with cricket as a Durban youngster.

So intense was his love for the game that he once felt the ire of the red leather ball that smacked him on his head when he got "too close" to the action during a local club game.

READ | How Zak Yaccob fell in love with cricket

"I remember this guy, Charles Fortune, used to talk about the birds, the cricketer rubbing the ball on his backside and running," he recalled.

"And he would get onto the speed at which he's running, when he would slow down he would wonder why his left knee is bending a little more than his right knee. He would even tell you which way his head was moving.

"Radio commentary was great."

Yacoob is not a passive cricket follower, either. He told Sport24 in an exclusive interview this week that he had been to numerous cricket matches at Kingsmead and Newlands, watching at the time as "just" a fan.

Now that he is sitting in South African cricket's most influential seat, Yacoob said he has garnered the trust of both current and former administrators, with whom he was cordial when he was still on the outside looking in.

"I went to cricket matches and I would talk to the administrators when I was there. I would get invited to the VIP rooms, the presidential boxes," he said.

"I have watched many a match in the Long Room and the President's Room in Durban and Cape Town and so on.

"I was a guest of those cricket guys and I know all of them quite well, even those sitting on opposite sides of the fence.

"That puts me in a stronger position because I have not taken any sides. I can assess everyone objectively. And because they've met me and they know me, they feel a little bit comfortable about my being there."

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