Jeremy Wells

Jeremy Wells on cricket

Jeremy Wells: My life, death and Channel Nine cricket coverage

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Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

What a pleasure it is to turn on my 40-inch LG LED TV at 12.30pm on a wet Thursday afternoon in November and hear that familiar Channel Nine cricket theme.

The cello's anticipatory halting strokes. The horns signalling the beginning of something monumental. The perfectly timed pieces of commentary. That abrupt crescendo. It's permanent. It's original. It's optimistic. And I want it played at my funeral.

Unfortunately this has been a sticking point with my partner ever since we had the "funeral" conversation eight years ago. I've toyed with other ideas. After the birth of my daughter in 2010, I went through a stage of thinking the final movement of Mahler's 3rd Symphony would be a tear-jerking reminder to the congregation how much they'll miss me. But now I think it may be too indulgent to force people to sit through 23 minutes of classical music at a funeral.

I know they'd love the ending if they hung in there, but my gut feeling is I'd lose them during the quiet woodwind bits. Besides, it might be tricky finding enough sober images of me to fill the visual void for 23 minutes.

So I've come back around on the Channel Nine Cricket theme. I'm not sure about the commentary bits at a funeral. Probably inappropriate. Hopefully Channel Nine have a clean mix of it somewhere. In fact, I must sort that before it's too late. I don't want to cause undue hassle upon my expiration.

Apologies, I didn't mean this to be about death. I was meant to be celebrating the joys of the Southern Hemisphere television summer.

There are so many things about Channel Nine's cricket coverage that excite me. From the clean, clear graphics to the superb photography - every sun-soaked session is carefully covered by people who genuinely love the game. They spend hours honing their product.

Every aspect of the telecast is considered.

I once heard an interview with commentary legend Richie Benaud and while I can't remember who conducted the interview, I can recall him saying that it was Channel Nine's policy to introduce a new piece of televisual technology every summer. Sometimes the new arrivals are pointless, like the Gatorade Heart Tracker that reports heart rates 30 seconds after the fact, but most of the time they add value to the broadcast, like the introduction of Hotspot seven years ago or Snicko in the late 90s.

Occasionally the tweaks seem cosmetic (like the commentary menage-a-trois that was introduced a few years back) but they go on to become standard practice across the world.

But the real genius of the Channel Nine cricket coverage is the selection consistency of the commentary team - the core of which began their relationships with Kerry Packer, the former boss of Nine, when World Series Cricket was created in the late 70s. Bill Lawry, Tony Greig, Ian Chappell and Richie Benaud are to cricket what Peter Jennings or Walter Kronkite are to news.

They have watched years of cricket as players, captains and now commentators and are in no small way responsible for maintaining the dominant place that cricket culture holds in Australian life. They commentated my childhood backyard bowling practices. They added authenticity and weight to New Zealand's beautiful victories on Australian soil in 1985, '87 and 2011.

And this summer they'll again provide the vocal soundtrack to my life for four months, like a 100mg dose of Tramol, guiding me warmly through about 2700 overs of pure cricket viewing pleasure.

It's funny the things that make us live.

- NZ Herald

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