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Where would summer be without cricket? And if you can’t wait for the next test or day/night match then the Connoisseur Series is just for you. A perfect fill-in for rain interrupted live action (which has marred much of Australia’s summer this season), there is no doubt that cricket lovers will keep coming back to these discs for a long time yet.

The Disc
The second disc in a three part series, The Modern Masters focuses on the best batsmen and bowlers from the modern era, highlighting some of the greatest achievements and performances that cricket connoisseur’s will love.

At over 100 minutes, the disc presents a detailed look at the best of the best who have all, in their own way, become recognised as the sport’s absolute finest. The usual suspects are all included; West Indian batsmen Viv Richards who could destroy an attack in a couple of overs, Sachin Tendulkar, considered to be the most technically sound batsmen in history, Allan Border, the most prolific test run scorer and the Waugh twins who have become the staple of the Australian team for the past decade. And it’s not just the batsmen who claim all the glory. The disc also features the likes of the fiery Dennis Lillee, the downright scary Malcolm Marshall and New Zealand’s finest, Richard Hadlee. And where would we be without a focus on the Aussie brilliance of Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath.

Cricket - The Modern Masters
Much like the first disc, The Modern Masters uses a sophisticated presentation to provide a wonderful insight into many of the game’s greats. Again hosted well by Ken Sutcliffe, this disc probably has a little less substance than the first but still maintains the interest throughout. There’re only so many highlights you can show, but they are ably supported by various interviews and anecdotes on all of the individuals, as well as some subtle humour from the interviewees. Probably not the best disc to chuck in and watch intensely for the duration, but the highlight and interview packages are ideal for some summer viewing in the background. This is certainly the best compilation for cricket lovers available when combined with the first and eventual third disc.  

As with the first disc, the visual quality is predictably inconsistent, with most of the older footage not comparing to the more modern highlights on the disc. Presented in television’s full frame, it is consistent with the quality of the broadcasts in each particular era. Sharpness and colours are rendered well with only the odd imperfection present, none of which are at all distracting.

The only problem with the transfer is the inconsistency of the interview quality. Some interviews, such as the discussion with Michael Bevan, are presented particularly well, with obvious care taken with background, lighting and positioning of the camera. The interview with Sachin Tendulkar, on the other hand, looks very poor, particularly in terms of lighting and camera position. Nevertheless, these minor faults aren’t really going to distract from the impact of what is being said.

Cricket - The Modern Masters
The audio on the disc is marred only by a few glitches during some of the cricket commentary, most likely due to inferior recording formats during those times. When Bill Lawry and his buddies get a little excited the audio can suffer as a result, with the levels being pushed to an almost unbearable limit. Changing the levels of the master would probably have fixed this problem. As with the first disc there are no problems with the interviews which are recorded very clearly and don’t cause any sync problems at all. Overall this is a serviceable soundtrack.

Extra features on discs like these can often be a little confusing. Most of the time they could have been placed in the actual feature presentation so it is difficult in assessing their actual worth. But this DVD does contain some additional footage of high quality.

There are a total of 12 interviews with various cricket identities (particularly Greg Chappell and Alan Border) regarding some specific aspects of the game. Topics discussed include Dennis Lillee’s aluminium bat, the differences between the fielding of Mark and Steve Waugh and Richard Hadlee’s 300-wicket milestone. These are all decent interviews but sadly do not contain any vision of the particular moments.

Also included are the hat tricks by Warne and McGrath played out in full. It’s always good to reminisce about some special moments in cricket, especially something as rare as three wickets in a row. These are a welcome addition to the disc.

Cricket - The Modern Masters
The Modern Masters is a solid presentation highlighting some of the greatest players over the last twenty years. While probably not as interesting and action-filled as the first disc, this one will certainly look a lot better with the other two discs when the series is complete. This is definitely a good companion for the cricket lover, especially those who see the current schedule as insufficient. There has been obvious effort made to present this disc well and only minor problems occur with the visuals and soundtrack. Some decent extras round out another winner in the Connoisseur Series.