Dinesh Karthik, who is currently in the midst of a commentary stint with Sky Sports, remarked that he is keen to break the Indian stereotype of commentary being a ‘post-retirement’ option. Karthik asserted that he has learnt plenty commentating alongside the likes of Hussain and Atherton.
Commentary and punditry in Indian cricket, of late, is seeing an influx of ex-cricketers, but Dinesh Karthik stands as an outlier. One of the very few active cricketers in the country to indulge in commentary, Karthik debuted as a pundit for Sky Sports during England’s tour of India five months ago. He made his debut in the commentary box in the WTC Final and currently has a temporary contract with Sky, which will see him commentate till the end of the five-Test series between India and England.
Among other reasons, Karthik has entered the field of commentary because he loves giving his insights on matches, but the 36-year-old also has a unique motive. In an interview with PTI, Karthik, an active cricketer, revealed that he wants to break the Indian stereotype of commentary being a post-retirement option, wherein players enter the field only after hanging their boots.
"There are a lot of other sports like basketball and football where current players come on air when they are not playing. Even now during the Sri Lanka-England T20s, James Anderson was doing it for the BBC in the next room. So it is a normal thing, it is only in India I think it is considered like that (post-retirement option),” Karthik told PTI.
"I obviously want to break that stereotype to an extent and I am happy to do this when I am not playing."
Prior to flying to the United Kingdom for the WTC Final, Karthik spent 10 days in Serbia with an icon both on the field and in the commentary box, Sunil Gavaskar. The former Indian skipper has been commentating for over three decades, and he incidentally was one of the co-commentators of Karthik when the latter made his debut in the commentary box last month. Karthik said that he was ‘extremely lucky’ to have been able to spend quality time with ‘Sunny G’ prior to his commentary debut, and described the time spent together as an ‘enlightening and enriching’ experience.
"I am extremely lucky that it happened. He (Gavaskar) gave me a few tips (on commentating) and it went well. More than the tips, the time I spent with him was very enlightening and enriching.
"It was also a lovely country and Sunny bhai and I got to meet the Serbian cricket team which was very interesting."
Not just Gavaskar, Karthik has also been working alongside two of the greatest commentators to have graced the sport, in the form of Nasser Hussain and Mike Atherton. The trio recently commentated in the ODI series between England and Sri Lanka, and Karthik asserted that he has immensely enjoyed the opportunity of being able to work with the two former England skippers.
“...It has also been awesome to be sitting alongside Nasser and Athers (Atherton). They are the best in the business and just to get to chat about the game with them is something I have enjoyed immensely besides learning a huge amount," said Karthik.
The Tamil Nadu man, however, is only a ‘temporary’ commentator and will go back to being a cricketer once the IPL commences. Despite not having played for India in 2 years, the 36-year-old is still hopeful of making a comeback.
"A lot would depend on how the IPL goes, so looking forward to do well for KKR and let's see if that helps me (make the Indian team). Well, playing for India is always hard. You only realise (when you are outside) how tough the sport is. The stats say I have done well over a period of time. If I do well in the second half of the IPL, who knows?"