Oh yes, maximum! This week we settle in with Hampshire’s finest, Mark Charles Jefford Nicholas.
Gives the impression of having been a very Dapper Dan in his pomp. In truth, he’s probably just grown into an age that suits him ‒ and that age is 59, which doesn’t seem right. Rarely caught in anything other than a fitted navy number, Nicholas sports the standard issue leathery tan of the luxury Pom down under.
Hits & Misses
It doesn’t feel like that long since Nicholas swanned into our summers, but he’s something of an old hand. His original remit was to relieve an ageing Richie Benaud from hosting duties which he’s managed relatively smoothly. His eagerness to return to the MCG after being rushed to hospital on a gurney also reeks of consummate professionalism.
As the only non baggy green owner in the main roster, Nicholas often plays the role of asking the simple question or probing for clarification when the ex-pros are getting too boisterous or tangential. It also gifts him some semblance of impartiality clearly lacking in Nine’s cookie cutter larrikinism.
His biggest hit so far has to be the commentator’s curse he placed on David Warner against South Africa at the WACA. The shrug and subsequent call of the wicket without missing a beat showed a master of his craft.
You get the sense that he genuinely loves what he does ‒ not just the cushiness of it ‒ and that goes a long way in any business. Nicholas makes a decent fist of leading a team suffering from a serious gravitas deficiency. He specialises in the pseudo-poetic recap at the start of each session, accompanying a slo-mo highlights reel. When Slater, Warne, Healy et al get carried away, Nicholas can seem like the last bastion of intellectualism saving Nine’s cricket from becoming The Footy Show.
If any critique can be levelled, perhaps it’s that he’s too fawning in dealing with the star power of players, not to mention his fellow commentators. But when you’re steering the goodship WWOS, there’s little room for journalistic grit. His role as chief presenter calls for geniality and deference to keep player-pundit relations well-oiled. It’s a far cry from the early 90s when Nicholas referred to Shane Warne as “a tubby, slightly uncommitted boy who didn’t seem to be going anywhere.”
Public opinion on Nicholas ranges the full spectrum, from those who appreciate his pursuit of eloquence, to various shades of the interloping Pom argument. Even News Corp reporting of Nicholas’ absence from the 2017 Sydney Test hailed it as an opportunity for “Wagga-born Michael Slater to host”…”who starred on the ground as a player for NSW and Australia.” A cynical lens might translate that as: Mark Nicholas isn’t from here and he never even played at the highest level. The nerve.
That said, a spell on the sidelines mightn’t be the worst thing for a man whose biggest threat is overexposure.
View from the stands
Great news. Mark Nicholas has been released from hospital.. turns out he had an allergic reaction to Shane Warne
We’ve all been there, Mark
— Grumplestiltskin (@2FBS) December 26, 2016
I once read that Mark Nicholas was just on the right side of smug. Also well on the wrong side of twat. #AUSvENG
— PeteDotAscian (@PeteDotAscian) January 23, 2015
Sack all the Nine cricket commentators and replace it with a Solange soundtrack I reckon. Every sentence is painful.
— Osman Faruqi (@oz_f) December 29, 2016
I hope Mark Nicholas is well soon and back with the game he so loves and which loves him back as much.
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) December 26, 2016
If there’s one man you don’t want to be confronted by after a heavy defeat it’s a smug Mark Nicholas, holding a cheque not intended for you.
— Dan Quarrell (@Dan_Eurosport) February 17, 2012
Runs on the board
ESPN Cricinfo describes his playing career thusly: “Mark Nicholas was almost a throwback to the era of amateurs, and although he did not play for England, many inferior players did during his time with Hampshire. He did captain England A to Zimbabwe, but that was as close as he got.”
Despite having carved out a respectable first class career, you’d be forgiven for thinking he’d never played the game due to being surrounded by boisterous cricket royalty at Nine. At the very least, he’s had brushes with greatness, if not ever quite achieving it himself. If you’re going to lose a knuckle, you might as well lose it to Waqar Younis.