17 June, 2021

Played With Soft Hands

As ever, Wilkins charms with measured chumminess, but ignores matters that bite

Played With Soft Hands

Years before he became premier, years after he rallied wou­­nded tigers into a World Cup-winning team, Imran Khan was watching his Pakis­tan play dismally at the 1999 WC in England from the comment­ary box. Writing in his memoirs, Alan Wilkins, Khan’s fellow commentator, describes how the fuming ex-cap­­­tain clambered over the scaffolding, “moving like a cricketing Zorro over the pipes and railings onto the balcony of the Pakistan dressing room” to (loudly) give the team a talking to, his duties at the microphone be damned.

Wilkins might have been pronounced ‘emotional’ and benched in his county cricket days; as a commentator, nat­i­onalist emotion is hardly the accusation that can be directed at the Wel­­­­­sh­­man. Forget climbing pipes, he wouldn’t even slip in a ‘we’ while calling a game.

He is not that kind of presenter; he is also not that kind of writer. Wilkins’s understated voice is both the greatest strength and weakness of Easier Said...

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