SuperSport has responded to the growing clamour for Xhosa cricket commentary by unveiling a top team of commentators to do duty from this weekend’s RAM SLAM T20 series.
The move signals an important shift by the World of Champions, coming as it does on top of multi-language (three) offerings for football and rugby.
SuperSport has roped in former Protea internationals Monde Zondeki and Mfuneko Ngam, plus esteemed commentator Peter Bacela, together with top umpire Zed Ndamane and former SA Schools rugby captain and cricket fundi Kaunda Ntunja.
“This is an important day,” said Bacela, who has commentated on sport for over 30 years. “Xhosa people love to hear commentary in their own tongue. Cricket may be an English game, but Xhosas love to hear it in their words.”
Bacela is in the unique position of being at the forefront of developing cricket terms for Xhosa where precise expressions like “silly point” don’t exist.
“In Xhosa we say uphantsi kwempumlo for silly point,” explains Bacela, which literally means “fielding under the nose.”
A maiden over becomes abenzanga zi-runs kule (no runs scored in the over), a Yorker is simply yibhola esezinzwaneni (ball pitching on the toes), while iqanda or idada translates as “nought” (duck). A pinch-hitter is known as umxhomi.
Short-leg is usemsileni wenkomo, which literally means “behind the cow’s tail”.
“Xhosa fans enjoy these words,” says Bacela. “Oftentimes, we coin them as we go along.”
Xhosa cricket followers can now enjoy a unique perspective on a game that has produced local Xhosa cricket marvels like Makhaya Ntini, Ngam and Zondeki.
Senior cricket producer Louwrens Rensburg says the introduction of Xhosa is designed to enhance the offering to a broader spectrum of viewers.
“This makes sense as we already do so for cricket and rugby. We’ve spent a lot of time preparing as this is something that can’t just be slapped together when the idea comes up. We will work hard to ensure the language is conveyed in the correct and proper manner.”
All televised RAM SLAM T20 matches will have the triple-language option with the first to enjoy such coverage the Dolphins-Titans game at Kingsmead on Friday.