Most articles on this website (mine included) tend to be negative about some issue in cricket, so in the interests of a brighter 2019, I thought I’d write a generally positive piece – about how many awesome cricket podcasts are out there at the moment.
You hear a lot of whingeing about the decline of the traditional media, especially by people who, well, work in traditional media. While it’s not as tragic for someone like myself who grew up in Brisbane where your newspaper choice was between The Australian and the Courier Mail, it is a shame that there is less newspaper coverage of the cricket, as well as the whole weakening of our democracy thing.
However, this has been compensated by the many advantages of the internet – in particular the explosion in the number of cricket-related podcasts.
There are five cricket podcasts I subscribe to; Cricket Unfiltered, The Grade Cricketer Podcast, The Final Word, The Follow On (Fox Sports) and The Caught Behind Cricket Podcast.
There’s a bunch of other ones out there (particularly from England and India) and I don’t mean to cause offence by leaving anyone out with this piece, but I’m going to focus on these five because they’re the ones I’m most familiar with.
Cricket Unfiltered is the official cricket podcast of News Limited, and often features journos like Pete Lalor and Robert “Crash” Craddock as guests, but is mostly the work of (relative) newcomer Andrew Menczel.
Menczel’s day job is running a café in Sydney but he does an excellent job producing and hosting Cricket Unfiltered – he’s full of enthusiasm, joy and passion, and is remarkably devoid of cynicism.
He really should be getting those “typical fan” gigs on TV they keep giving to Gus “let me tell you about depression” Worland. The podcast is a reminder that News Limited can do a decent and fair job of reporting on an area provided Rupert doesn’t have a political interest in it.
The Grade Cricketer Podcast is from Ian Higgins, Sam Perry and Dave Edwards, creator of the Grade Cricketer twitter account and books.
This is a brilliantly funny podcast, which views the game through the prism of (over?) educated former grade cricketers – not the “legends” we get shoved down our ears and eyes most of the time, but guys who never made it at the top level.
I don’t think any writer or broadcaster has better illuminated the psyche of the sort of Australian males who play grade cricket than the Grade Cricketer trio – the self loathing and denial, the importance of “rigs”, “salads” and being a good bloke, the “chat”, the “chop”, the “circuit”, the homoeroticism (the way the guys go on about Faf du Plessis in a towel makes me wonder if they don’t dabble in some form of slash fiction about cricketers on the side).
Their explanations make things like the selection of Mitch Marsh and sandpapergate (depressingly) easy to understand, as well as incredibly entertaining.
I did wonder originally if they were going to be a one trick pony, but they never run out of fresh takes on situations and keep going from strength to strength, recently branching out into TV and live shows.
They have good quality guests, doing best with “maverick” players like Brad Hodge, Steve O’Keefe and Adam Zampa. They ask tougher questions in their interviews than many traditional journos (eg the one with Kevin Roberts) and get scoops which aren’t picked up on as often as they should – they outed the senior player who had troubles with Steve O’Keefe as being Michael Clarke.
People looking for scandal pieces would be better off listening to interviews on the Grade Cricketer Podcast instead of just regurgitating Warney’s twitter feed.
The Final Word is from the team of Adam Collins and Geoff Lemon, who work for a variety of outlets, notably the ABC, Wisden and The Guardian.
They also work for themselves – Collins recently entered media mogul territory buying the radio broadcast rights to the Australia-Pakistan series in the UAE.
Collins and Lemon have a lot of passion for the game, and the Final Word is a first rate podcast.
They are probably the best male analysts I’ve heard on women’s cricket, which they genuinely like, separating themselves from many more established journos who treat women’s cricket like broccoli they force themselves to eat because they know it’s good for them.
Lemon was a poet and brings a Melbourne writers festival vibe to the show at times, sprinkling his analysis with pop culture references and doing things like performance pieces on Shaun Marsh.
The ABC should really be grooming these two to take over the radio cricket coverage from Jim Maxwell, but, like giving Glenn Maxwell a decent shot at a Test career, just because something is logical, doesn’t mean it’ll happen.
The Follow On is from Fox Sports and has some good moments, though I feel the analysis isn’t as strong as the other podcasts.
In all honesty, this is probably because I disagree with their opinions more – but do I feel the quality of the show dropped slightly since Foxtel got the rights to the cricket.
In particular, it feels as though the podcast regulars have had to be overly respectful of the opinions of the ex-players employed by Foxtel, such as Shane Warne, Adam Gilchrist and Michael Vaughan.
They used to have Brett Geeves as a semi-regular guest and don’t anymore – I feel his irreverence is missed and wish he’d come back. Still, I enjoy the show a lot. They are excellent on the Big Bash and have had some really strong episodes, such as a superb interview recently with Will Pucovski.
The Caught Behind Podcast is a newer podcast presented by two guys, Nick Baker and Lincoln Edmunds. I don’t know anything about them – I presume they are fans with some playing experience – but I do know they are more across the current game than several ex-players working as commentators.
It’s a solid podcast that is getting better with each episode and I always enjoy listening to it.
I should also mention some other popular Australian podcasts out there, and should their hosts or fans stumble upon this article and get upset I don’t subscribe, I plead time limitations.
There’s the Can’t Bowl Can’t Throw Cricket Show. Occasional guest Dan Liebke is, by miles, the funniest cricket fan to follow on twitter. He’s brilliant and his book is very good too.
Damien Fleming and Brad Hodge host the Bowlology Report which has a lot of fans. Fleming and Hodge are both astute commentators on the game.
There’s also the Unplayable Cricket Podcast from cricket.com.au which I don’t subscribe to because, well, it’s from cricket.com.au and, while I know there’s lots of good journalists there trying to do the best job they can, it’ll always be hampered by being the official media arm of Cricket Australia, whereas all the others are independent.
They do have some really good interviews and segments though – I just prefer my podcasting more fan-based.
I used to love Jarrod Kimber’s podcast when he focused on Australia and wish he’d do it again.
There’s a podcast called The Edge which has links to Channel Seven and seems to focus on Western Australia cricket. I’ve only listened to one episode – I only just became aware of it – but it was pretty good, and it was great to hear one hosted by a woman, Bonnie Raynor. I think state-focused podcasts are a brilliant idea and I wish every state would do one.
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In the best of these podcasts, the voices are independent, the analysis flexible and the presenters genuinely seem to love what they do. Sometimes commentators can seem tired and going through the motions of schtick.
They’re not as weighed down by “Test legends” who tend to suffocate reportage of the game under their combination of nostalgia and the Old Mates Act.
Podcasts are an invaluable circuit breaker of the stranglehold ex-players and traditional journos have had on cricket coverage in this country, which is an excellent thing. If you don’t listen to any I urge you to try them out.
Read more: theroar.com.au