The end of the English summer also brought curtains down on one of the most memorable commentary stints in the history of cricket broadcasting. Sky Sports, leading sports network of UK and host broadcasters of cricket played in that country, have decided to not renew the contract of David Gower as their presenter and commentator.
This means that matches in England won't have the languid and mellow voice of Gower in the background in future. The former England captain isn't the only one that Sky have decided to discard. Sir Ian Botham too has been left out of the plans for future.
The channel gave a fitting farewell to both the legendary cricketers-turned-commentators by putting them on-air for the final moments of the match and also ending their telecast with the two men having a brief chat about their time working for the network. Both men raised a toast with Gower holding a glass of champagne and Botham one of his own company's wines.
The two men are leaving with contrasting emotions. While Botham was cheerful and said the time is right for "young blood to come into the commentary box," Gower revealed his unhappiness. Even in their farewell presentation at the end of the coverage, Gower couldn't resist mentioning that he doesn't share the sentiment of his long-time colleague and teammate that "the time is right to move on."
As somebody who grew up admiring Sky Sports' coverage as the best in the world, Gower's voice was an integral component of the experience of watching English cricket. His relaxed and assured delivery, easy-going style of analysis and a dash of typically understated British humour made him the perfect leader of a commentary team of varied and diverse personalities.
With deeply analytical Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain, passionate Michael Holding and Ian Botham and humourous David Lloyd in the pack, Gower was the perfect leader and show manager. While most of the cricket world sees loud debates where the main topic gets drowned out in heavy exertions over tangential issues, Gower managed to keep analysis on his programmes to the point and edifying.
With him gone, the responsibility of leading the team and conducting the discussions is likely to fall upon Ian Ward. While he is a very capable presenter and commentator who has been helming Sky's ODI coverage for some time, Gower's absence would definitely be felt.
In many ways, Gower's commentary style was the verbal extension of his batting. Qualities such as grace, elegance and smoothness oozed from both. Those qualities will be sorely missed. However, since he feels he is not done yet, the legendary left-hander may well be employed by other broadcasters. That would be great for cricket fans round the world.