Leading cricket analysts in Pakistan – Aamir Sohail, Ali Sanwal and Dr Nauman
Renowned cricket analysts in Pakistan include Aamir Sohail, Ali Sanwal and Dr Nauman.
Most of the population in Pakistan has access to a television (of any shape or size) and the advantages that it comes with. One of these being, cable TV. In fact, channels that come from across the globe dominate our ‘viewing time.’
Amidst numerous entertainment channels, mainstream channels that are solely dedicated to sports are Star Sports, Star Cricket, Ten Sports, Geo Super, ESPN and PTV Sports.
While it may be argued that the best cricket coverage and analysis is provided by Super Sports and Sky Sports, we have to admit that they have become less accessible to the mainstream cable providers over the years, and are only available after additional payment for these channels, or alternate cable TV packages.
So watching cricket matches with top class coverage, especially with the current Indo-Pak series underway is a national concern, with cricket being a rare unifying factor in our society today.
A cricket starved fan will tune in an hour before the game starts, to listen to what the experts think, what factors they think will drive the game, and what decisions will be crucial for the captain.
It’s a fascinating hour before the game starts. Veins pumping with adrenaline, you’re excited and all geared up and you struggle to watch as many people as you can on various sports channels broadcasting the game.
Different channels employ different methods to present sports shows.
Retired cricketers, cricketers who are still in action, and senior sports journalists and analysts are employed to conduct match analyses. Although, sports analysts tend to change with every new series, sports channels have managed to associate themselves with specific analysts.
For example the Channel 9 team that covers all Test Matches in Australia: Tony Grieg, Bill Lawry, Ian Chappel and Richie Benaud; lovable and exciting, crazed enthusiast, opinionated and controversial, and a statesman, in the same order respectively.
The Geo Super team for the Indo-Pak series is Sikandar Bakht, Yahya Hussaini and Hamid Mir; they are producing a combined Pak-India Takra with an Indian channel where Kambli, Inzimam, Prabharkar and Sharma are present.
Star Sports boasts Shastri, Gavaskar, Sidhu and Ganguly on their team, with Arun, Ramiz and Wasim pitching in for the ongoing series. Here you see analysts trying to score valuable patriot points and others drowning in the confusion of political correctness.
Shastri and even Gavaskar of late surprisingly, have been extremely partial. Shastri of course, still possesses the IPL disease to commentate professionally. Ganguly on the other hand, carries himself with great authority and dignity, as he did on the cricket field.
Since the last year, I have found it impossible to switch away from PTV Sports, which has associated itself with Aamir Sohail, Ali Sanwal and Dr Nauman Niaz, the team imparting the best analysis.
Although not a part of the current Indo-Pak series, Dr Nauman has been an integral part of the PTV Sports team that has injected real professionalism in sports show hosting.
Oh no! They aren’t broadcasting themselves, and neither are they immune to the constant and excessive advertisement problem.
All avid cricket fans will soon attest for a complete cricket viewing experience- after all the ‘match analysis’ is as important as the match itself.
PTV Sports doesn’t have flashy attractions to hold a viewer’s attention; which is why they have focused on the basics of a good match analysis: the quality of the analysts. Their analyst team for the first T20 of the Indian tour was Ali Sanwal as program host and Aamir Sohail and PJ Mir as guests.
Their coverage offers top class pre and post-match analysis, with profound emphasis on the technical details and the nitty gritties of the game. Its direction is starkly different from other local and international channels, where the focus is more on cross-border analysts delivering subtle jibes to each other.
Most importantly, their show does not make a deliberate effort to direct viewer focus to controversial issues to generate spice and viewership.
Aamir Sohail is the shrewdest cricket analyst in Pakistan and has the talent and knowledge to be compared along the ranks of Simon Hughes, Ian Chappel, Harsha Bhogle and Michael Holding. These analysts leave you with a deeper understanding of the game and a session with Sohail, Sanwal and Dr Nauman does exactly that. Ali Sanwal is now a veteran at hosting sports shows – a man of vast cricketing knowledge and experience yet humble and refreshingly boyish in attitude.
It is best of course, when you have analysts from opposing countries, discussing the game. But it is only worth watching if the analysts are willing to impart substantial knowledge. Watching Sidhu, Arun Lal and Ramiz in Hindi commentary is a dull affair. Their coverage has set new standards for memorised script oration and has reached the point of downright ridiculousness.
It would be wonderful if Harsha Bhogle, Ganguly, Sohail and Shoaib Akhtar were paired together in a show. Now these are refreshingly frank personalities, reasonably unbiased and not yet products of the cliché factory. Such analyst pairings are desperately needed as sports channels in the sub-continent are failing to bring real dynamics to a match analysis.
The trio of Aamir Sohail, Ali Sanwal and Dr Nauman has its worth in gold and I truly believe sports coverage in Pakistan will only improve if it’s recognised as such and appreciated. Sensationalism is good, but substance will last.
As they say, ‘Class will out!’
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.