The Ten Things I have loved so far about my adventure commentating in the IPL8. #PepsiIPL

1) Seeing AB de Villiers innings of 133*! de Villiers is truly the best batsman going around at the moment.  His ability to manipulate the ball to all parts of the ground when and how he wants to is simply magical.  Equally impressive is his mental application when out in the middle. He stays calm under pressure and out thinks the bowler, more often than not.

2) Getting the opportunity in my down time to play a round of golf throughout the Fort Golkand in Hyderabad. No doubt this makes my list also because when I paired up with Damien Fleming and Anthony Kearney on different occasions we have won both times when taking on the “Rest of the World” team!

3) Getting a chance to watch a game of cricket every night and exciting and thrilling games at that!!!

4) Meeting up with all the Aussies that are involved in the IPL. Whether that be camera operators, producers, commentators, event managers, strength & conditioners, physiotherapists, assistant coaches, bowling coaches, fielding coaches…oh and that’s right, the players!!!

5) Learning about the whole off field behind the scenes business of bringing you, the viewers, the pictures, sounds, graphics, stories into your living room.

6) Exploring different parts of India that I haven’t had the opportunity to visit before, namely Kolkata and Hyderabad.

7) Seeing the destruction and athleticism shown by the West Indian players throughout the tournament. 

8) Witnessing the rising youth of Indian cricket, in players such as Shreyas Iyer, Sarfraz Khan and Deepak Hooda to name a few.  It has been genuinely exciting to witness their first experiences at this elite level and seeing them perform extremely well. India is in good hands for the future.

9) The look on the my co-commentators face when I offered to host drinks after a game and provided tapas that included dips, falafel, olives, pita bread and more…instead of the usual wine/beer/peanuts that the boys had provided when they hosted drinks. 

10) Interacting with the people of India. I love how nothing is ever too hard for them and someone is always willing to help and assist. More importantly, they do it with a smile on their face every day of the week no matter what the time of day is and that is really lovely when you are so far away from home from family, friends and furkids for so long.

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My pick on the potential winner of the #PepsiIPL @IPL Who do you think will lift the trophy??

Having now had the opportunity to watch over 40 matches of IPL8, the thing I have enjoyed most is watching players from different cultures, conditions, upbringing and privilege, play against each other and with each other. 


So in bringing such a diverse range of players together, what is the recipe to success as a team, with very little chance to spend any time together before the tournament kicks off? Well it all begins at the auction stage, where team owners, coaching staff and mentors work together to strategically assemble a team they think can win them the IPL. 


Whilst teams busily bid for the stable of available International stars, you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of the teams selecting right domestic Indian players for their IPL squad. This is the extremely crucial to a team’s success, as staff try to complement their International players with the skills of the quality Indian domestic players. 


In terms of selecting the domestic Indian players, some teams have opted for up and coming young guns who are fearless (Sarfraza Khan and Deepak Hooda), whilst others have chosen experienced cricketers that have been around the traps for over a decade, such as Ashish Nehra and Pravin Tambe. 


So which approach is better?? It is tough to say as it really depends on the individual, plus I have always believed that you need the mixture of youth and experience to have success. Though I am going to put myself out there on a limb and say the fearless youngster may turn the game in your favour when you least expect it.


Looking at each of the IPL teams, it is no surprise that CSK have been the most consistent performer over the history of the IPL due to their batting strength and the number of players who have international experience. And why wouldn’t they be…apart from the genuine International stars on their books, such as McCullum, Faf du Plessis, the two Dwyanes’ – Bravo and Smith, their Indian players have all experienced International success at some stage, most notably being their favourite son, MS Dhoni.


However, with Brendan McCullum leaving CSK to play Test cricket in England, the formidable opening partnership between him and Dwayne Smith will be broken and they may be exposed because of this. Having strong openers that dominate in the first six overs are the teams that are posting competitive scores, or showing an ability to chase down the scores with control and dominance.


Whilst CSK is strong, for me, if I was a betting person (which I am not), my money would be on Royal Challengers Bangalore to win IPL8. Ever since Mitch Starc has landed in India, they look like a different side because they have their balance right. Not only do they have the fire power with the bat, this now it is matched with the ball. Teams that have bought strength in one skill isn’t enough to win you games here in the IPL8.


RCB has the flare and the key personnel that can win them a match from any situation, and importantly they appear to be a side that enjoys each others company on and off the field. Off the field they have fun together, whether it be smearing cake over each other because it is someone’s birthday or dancing the night away. On the field, they play with passion and fire and are fiercely competitive.


So a well balanced team, with quality depth in the batting and bowling departments, who gets along well is a winning combination for me in IPL8.


My smokey to win the tournament is Kolkata Knight Riders. Their style of play is extremely different to other teams – they grind and restrict teams with their meticulous use of spin at Eden Gardens. Whilst they do have the hitting power with Andre Russell and Yusuf Pathan, their batsmen are also elegant to watch using timing and their wrists to find the boundary with ease.

Half way through the #PepsiIPL @IPL

Being part of IPL8 has been one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences of my life. I feel blessed and lucky.

The colour, noise, action and passion on display every night continues to astound me. And when I reflect on this I feel that the IPL is quintessential India, or should I say, modern India.

For me, it has been an opportunity of a life time. Not only do I get to be in India during this carnival atmosphere, but more importantly, I have been given the chance to learn off the best in the business when it comes to commentating on cricket.

Twenty two days have already been and gone and whilst Crew C has only commentated on six games at this point, with one wash out, it has enabled me to spend quality time interacting with the talented Crew C and watch A LOT of cricket. 

Prior to coming over, I was conscious that I had watched the IPL sporadically over the previous 7 years and hadn’t had the opportunity to observe the majority of the Indian domestic players make their way through their cricketing careers. So my immediate focus was how am I going to get up to speed to make the fans happy and Crew C happy to have me part of their team? 

For my commentary work I actually carry around with me three different books.

A red one that captures all the games that I have covered in my short career as a commentator, the results and the key performers and two smaller books, where one is dedicated for each match that I watch in the IPL, my observations and key moments in the game. 

The other is what I call my “cheat sheet” which contains all the teams and their stats for this IPL and any facts that might be points of interests. This allows me to have a quick glance over the players and their recent performances. 

As you would expect, my 3 books assist in my preparation, but nothing beats watching the games live and forming my own opinions on the players. So whilst originally I would have preferred to be busy commentating at the start of the tournament, being able to watch so many games up front has allowed me to get to know the players so I can provide the fans with insights into the game and the likely tactics of the players. 

Commentating is very similar to playing, you have to make sure you are prepared and you have to find a formula that works for yourself.  Calling in the IPL is very different to the radio and TV commentary I have done in Australia and only now am I am starting to feel confident I have found formula for me that can ensure that at the end of each game Crew C and the fans are happy with my contribution. 

As a former athlete who performed at the highest level I have certainly put a huge amount of pressure on myself to grab this opportunity with both hands and do a great job. And if I am honest with myself, with my first few IPL8 matches I was a little overwhelmed with it all…and why wouldn’t I be! I am in India commentating on the biggest T20 competition in the world and the fans are the loudest in the world!!! 

However, my fellow Crew C commentators, producer and director have been patient and encouraging, and as my journey has progressed, they have been wonderful supports. From everything from making me feel included, sharing a few tricks of the trade as to how to sound more polished on air (whether it’s throwing to an ad break or making sure I don’t say “as you can see” during the call) and giving me a timely pat on the back as encouragement. Their support and encouragement has been vital to making me feel that I have been going well and improving as my IPL8 journey evolves. 

As they have all mentioned any commentator starting out will have some much to learn and improve on – like a international athlete starting out on their international career. It takes time to master the art of commentating with each commentator exploring what style best suits them and reflects them, and with most things in life, the only way to learn is by doing more and more matches. Over the past few weeks I have needed to keep reminding myself to just be ME. I can’t try to sound like another commentator because I respect them, it just won’t work. 

With another seven matches to go, I am still super excited about what lies ahead and all the intricacies and nuances that I am going to pick up about commentating…bring it on!!  I hope I can repay the faith a lot of people have shown in me to give me this opportunity.