The converted window cleaning booth that serves as the Sky speedway commentary booth has certainly been going back to its roots in recent weeks. Recently it has been another week, another meeting staged in the rain for the benefit of Sky television. I always understood that “rider safety” was always the number one priority for everyone, never mind that both rain and drizzle significantly impairs visibilty for the riders. It’s difficult to imagine that any cricket match would be played in bad light, yet only a week after Adam Shields was injured there, the show must go on the notoriously fast Peterborough track in less than ideal conditions. Though Kelvin claimed that riders would invariably be keen to race since “once the bike’s dirty, you have to clean it anyway”, this doesn’t really bear scrutiny unless, of course, they allow this to happen in hospital car parks nowadays. If you’re briefly injured or out for the season, you’ll get more than enough time to look after your equipment or consider your lack of earnings.
Perhaps if cricket was staged in bad light, everyone would bowl dolly drops. Too many matches played like that would undermine the integrity of the league tables, yet at speedway it’s apparently okay to undervalue the results and slither round the track just ensure the contracted weekly race is run. Ridden is probably the operative word rather than raced and we all like to see a speedway ride rather than a speedway race.
Peterborough was staged in safer conditions than previously at Poole, yet the feeling remains that the paying public are somehow been short changed. Still, Sky’s desire to ensure their advertisers are always happy does have its strange benefits since at a rain lashed Wimborne Road, we were treated to the sight of Kelvin and Nigel getting soaked (as well as Jason Crump working as an unofficial referee cum shop steward). Sadly, this exciting camerawork was mostly missing last night at the East of England Showground.
With speedway now apparently an all weather sport, hopefully we can soon abandon the close season and replace it with speedway riding throughout the winter?
Though, the spectacle isn’t of the calibre you’d expect in dry conditions, there’s always plenty of entertainment on offer from Kelvin. Whether it’s pointless technical insight (“sometimes after the practice laps the chain needs tightening”), the excessive use of the word “literally” or the relentless bonhomie and joviality of his interactions with Nigel – despite the naysayers, the high cost of a Sky subscription remains remarkably good value. Worth the month’s fee alone last night was Kelvin’s invention of a wonderful new word – tenacianos (said “ten-naysh-ah-nos”) – while burbling on about the ostensible speedway skills of Henning Bager. Perhaps the viewers (literally) need their own increased reserves of tenacianos to put up with the same increasing tired format of the rider interviews, one sided meetings and hyperbole every week?
If Kelvin can add words to the English Language, then Nigel isn’t afraid to apparently steal some pronunciations from the Tony Millard speedway thesaurus. Without Tai Woffinden to religiously tongue bathe for a couple of hours, kelvin and Nigel switch their attentions to the latest/”new” great white hope that is “future Grand Prix star” in the making. Consequently, Jurica Pavlic gets the full treatment. Sadly, he doesn’t live up to his (justified) billing or relish his first trip to the Peterborough track in the rain but we’re still treated to Nigel’s version of his name “Yur-reek-ka Pav-litch”*. Given, professionalism in a speedway commentary context requires that the presenters frequently have to pretend that they’re close to orgasmic and that a dull workaday meeting is the best race ever in the history of the sport, perhaps it was only a matter of time before a speedway rider was associated with a major scientific breakthrough?
The discovery of gravity and that speedway can go ahead in the rain is surely already enough entertainment to justify an increasingly expensive monthly subscription to Sky?
* I’m told that the rider’s mum says “you-rizza” when she pronounces it