Web Desk :
Abu Dhabi, 6th December 2023: 60 balls, 90 minutes, 10 overs. The Abu Dhabi T10 is known as cricket’s fastest format. The energetic, dynamic, furious, and fast-paced cricketing action is only matched by the flamboyant, fiery, and vibrant words of the man calling the action from the commentary booth – Danny Morrison. The former New Zealand cricketer-turned-commentator has garnered a reputation for his unique style on the microphone – which he dubs ‘Danny-isms’.
With the game of cricket getting shorter and shorter, the nature of commentary is evolving at a fast pace. Morrison has certainly embraced the style of the shorter formats and is enjoying his time calling the action in T10.
“T10 is fast and furious. But having said that, T20 is a bit like that too. The games move very quickly. But you also have the advertorials, during commentary which are very important. Because without sponsors you don’t have a product. So, you have to get them in, and then you have to throw often to sidelines in the views, and there are so many activations going on. It is busy and it keeps you on your toes,” Morrison explained the challenges with the shorter format.
“Some of us like it and gravitate to that style of it. I have certainly embraced it. At times I have been told, that my style is a little bit unique – and I have a niche market with the fans. This style works for me,” he said.
In a traditional commentary booth – the role of calling the action gets divided between the lead or the play-by-play commentator who is describing the sporting action, and the colour commentator, who assists the lead by filling in the gaps when the action is not going on by providing expert analysis and background information which may include statistics or injury reports, strategies, etc.
But are the lines blurring between the lead and colour commentator in cricket in the shorter formats? “I think when you are doing lead in T10s and T20s- you have to be ideally short and sharp,” Morrison said.
“But a lot depends on your co-commentator. For me, when I am the lead, I tend to be a little bit rowdy, full-on, and extravagant, and then when I am doing colour, it’s a bit more analytical. And I am not so quite upbeat some of the time. When you are doing these franchise tournaments around the world, and there are a lot of crowds in the stands, it tends to get quite intense.”
A game of T10 lasts less than two hours. As wickets keep tumbling, boundaries keep coming at a fast pace and the action keeps happening on the sidelines, Morrison has a tough job to not only inform the viewers of the action but also about what they cannot see happening or understand.
“A lot of the time it’s quite obvious what’s going on. But you have to mention what viewers do not see. So you need a good team alongside – the graphics, the statistics, etc. – to weave the story. In 50 overs, there is a lot more time to explain the narrative. In shorter formats, it’s fast and furious, but there is still a little bit of time, between all the advertorial and activations to explain something that is going on. I tend to hang out a lot more in T10 and T20 as I like it that way,” Morrison said.
“The great thing we learned when we were younger was to not take for granted that everyone watches and understands cricket. So you are also educating viewers as well. I tend to be quite basic at times, but because you do not have a lot of time in there, you are also trying to entertain people and have fun with it. So my style might be a little abstract and wild for some people,” he said.
The 2007 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup led to the popularisation of the word ‘scoop’ in cricket’. And now with the formats continuing to get shorter, the batters are using a whole new variety of innovative shots leading to commentators constantly needing to update their vocabulary on the microphone. To not use the same words over and over again for different shots, Morrison has given birth to ‘Danny-isms’.
“We have to keep updating our vocabulary with the shorter formats. I love that word – ‘he’s moose that over cover’. There are only so many times you can say ‘hit it’. I prefer ‘he’s got that one off the meat’. Or I like to say ‘fattered’. ‘Here we are in the fat city’. Because it’s just different. Otherwise, you are saying the same superlatives over and over again. I throw in a bit of ‘Danny-isms’. I’ll have a ‘fatting it’ rather than ‘middling it’. Or ‘hitting it right off the screws’. Or as the great Tony Greig would say, ‘he’s meated this one’. You have to come up with different things like that,” Morrison said.
To keep himself updated with the new style of commentary, the 57-year-old spends time reading a lot of books and watching a lot of cricket.
“You hear a lot of colleagues doing different things. A lot of times you hear ‘he’s smoked it for six’. And there are innovations in shots as well, there is ‘switch-hitting’, ‘scooping’, ‘dabbing’, ‘flicking’, and then there is a naughty thing I brought along – ‘whippage’. It’s naughty but nice. But they let me say it because Morrison gets away with it. After all, that’s my style,” he signed off.