TOM BASSAM ON TV: Games tests the talent pool at BBC
THE Commonwealth Games may not be the most prestigious of international multi-sport competitions.
A table-tennis tournament with no Chinese and a track meet without the Americans is not going to swivel many heads. However, what it does do is test the limits of the BBC commentary pool, for this we should be grateful, if not always for the right reasons.
Throughout the World Cup some of the groans at the tired clichés peddled by over-familiar commentary duos caused minor earthquakes in parts of the Home Counties. The Commonwealth Games so far has largely avoided this curse.
Mostly this is because, rightly so, someone somewhere decided calling in the experts to explain some of less familiar sports was a good idea. However, being a games pretty low down the list on most people’s priorities some of those experts were not available.
Judo, one of those sports unused to the limelight, has been the beneficiary of one such shortfall. Husband and wife commentary teams should be made compulsory after Neil and Niki Adams’ work in Glasgow.
They are two passionate and knowledgeable former judokas who provide plenty of judo jargon but their relationship off-screen does not always transfer when tasked with sharing the mic-work, to hilarious effect. It is awkward and amusing to hear their two styles clash.
Niki treads the line of professionalism and exuberance, so regularly abused by the athletes offered commentary duties at the Winter Olympics, and her husband Neil gets lost in his myriad technical terms. To be irritated by them is soulless, their commitment to making the competition as exciting as they find it embodies the Games.
New blood can be exciting but in the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome Simon Brotherton continues to show he is no Hugh Porter and Rob Hayles lacks the gravitas of Chris Boardman, while the hockey coverage lacks Barry Davies.
One new face in the analyst chair, though hardly unfamiliar, is Rebecca Adlington, the former Olympic swimmer and the butt of much ire for seemingly no reason apart from her looks.
Alongside the constantly silvering fox Mark Foster and dab hand Claire Balding, Adlington has not appeared out of place. Her analysis draws from her own experience, not just technically but on the emotions of racing, an aspect often overlooked. Her insight into the British teams is excellent, mostly because she knows the swimmers personally, something she will have to maintain as new faces appear on the scene.
The Commonwealth coverage has largely reflected the Games itself, not premium product but an interesting insight into the lower depths and fringe talent of the field.