We’d barely even heard of Isa Guha a couple of months ago, and now we’re a little bit besotted — she just sounds bloody brilliant.
This is the first year that Triple M – or indeed any FM broadcaster – has had the rights to call test cricket.
Isa Guha has walked straight into the box on that most blokey of broadcasters, and won it over as if it were a game of backyard cricket with a disinterested child.
Isa has absolutely dominated that commentary box.
She has taken on Lawrence Mooney, Jules Schiller and Gus Worland for laughs; she has left consummate pro host Mark Howard lost for words, and she’s driven Merv Hughes back over his head in the banter stakes.
In Melbourne, when the boys in the box were talking about Peter Siddle’s fitness and strict diet, Guha asked “Merv. How did you keep fit?” with such delicious, tongue-in-cheek false innocence that it stunned the big man into silence, while the rest of the box around her erupted in giggles.
Then in Sydney, Kerry O’Keeffe (how good is it to hear him back on air, by the way) reminisced about DK Lillee playing in his old hat.
“I remember Dennis Lillee running around with his big floppy”, he said.
Quick as a flash she dropped in the “And what hat was he wearing?” punchline, again with textbook delivery.
Not that she’s a gag merchant — this is an ex-England international after all, her own cricketing credentials are serious.
She played eight tests in an era when the women rarely played the longest format, and averaged a miserly 18.93 with the ball with best bowling figures of 5/40 (and 9/100) in a match.
She also played 83 ODIs — debuting at just 16 — taking 101 wickets at just 23.21 with best figures of 5/14. In 2009 she won the World Cup in Australia.
In the commentary box she used all that experience to keep us updated with the latest action in clear, uncomplicated language, and mixed that with an ability to get under the skin of what’s going on in the captain or bowler’s minds as well as anyone.
She also witheringly took Gus Worland to task for calling her “Ish” one morning, after she had explained it means “shame” in Urdu. Poor Gus.
Guha has this distinct tone, and a deserved confidence, and she takes the trouble to speak clearly and explain the action in a way that works for both expert and novice at once.
She possesses a voice that makes you want to listen, rather than feel you have to. She’s genuinely one of the best broadcasters in world cricket right now.
We’re kind of in love, to tell you the truth. And not in a blokey “Hey look, a bird talking about sport, bet she’s a goer” misogynistic kind of way. But in the way you love a mate, an uncle, or dare we say it, a Benaud.
Good on ya, Isa. Looking forward to hearing you back again next summer for the Ashes — even if your mob will go home with their tail between their legs.
Matt is the only member of The Greenfield Post team to have been to an Auto Windscreens Trophy Final, the Malaysian FA Cup Final, trained at Trent Bridge, and watched all nine tiers of the English football league pyramid – which he thinks makes him better than the rest of us.
He supports (not “barracks for”) St Kilda because, like the England football team, the only moment of success in their long history came in 1966. Bloody Poms.