The BBC TV commentary team on duty at Wimbledon this year was criticised by some viewers for talking too much or “over talking,” as a Beeb statement put it.
From what I caught of it all, John McEnroe’s comments are always worth listening to, but Greg Rusedski talks utter drivel. “If he wins this point, he’ll hold his serve.” What? That other non-Wimbledon champion, Tim Henman was OK without being insightful, despite being paid a packet.
The problem with former players packing in their sport and heading for the commentary box is not confined to tennis. Rugby has that whingeing, carping Brian I-can’t-see-anyone-but-England-on-this-pitch Moore: dreadful.
In golf, there is the waffling and woeful, Wayne Grady: “All these golfers look the same to me,” he said after mixing up a player’s name in this week’s coverage of The Open. Handy for a so-called “commentator,” isn’t it? Another out-on-the-course-faceless-one ventured into Ed Milliband territory with the same reply but only twice in a row: “Yes the wind has dropped. It was windier earlier, but it has dropped now.”
We’re in the close season but football, with its wall to wall coverage, is the biggest sinner. Does anyone remember Match of the Day dullard Alan Shearer saying anything remotely interesting? Great player, grim pundit.
And Mark Lawrenson? His raised eyebrows and so-called sardonic wit never register with me at any rate. Andy Townshend on ITV is about as useful as a Grand Prix driver with no sense of direction. Ex-players can be good on the box: Graeme Souness and Martin O’Neill spring to mind.
Former sports stars are able to make the transition – jockey, Willie Carson knows his stuff and Steve Cram in athletics, too, although both have voices that grate.
While some of the former players on Radio Scotland’s football coverage could do with a course in grammar, obviously. But there’s an entertaining buzz about what they have to say - and they don’t make the mistake of taking themselves too seriously.
How programme producers go about picking the pundits is a mystery. But surely they could revamp the criteria and start looking for people with sparkle, insight and an ability not to state the blooming obvious.
Anyone get on your nerves when you're watching televised sport or listening to the action on the radio? Get it off your chest, let me know.