Sky Sports pundit Wayne Mardle hopes he has given a famous piece of commentary a new lease of life after blaring out “I can’t speak” during Michael Smith’s stunning nine-dart finish in the World Championship final.
Mardle channelled a viral YouTube clip where an irate rugby league commentator utters the phrase – among other more choice ones – in a thick Yorkshire accent in disbelief at a refereeing decision.
He used his version in a more positive manner after being lost for words by Smith’s nine-darter in the second set, which came immediately after Michael Van Gerwen had missed his own attempt at darting perfection in arguably the greatest leg of darts ever.
COMMENTARY CAM! 😅🎯
Here's a look at how Wayne Mardle and Stuart Pyke reacted in the commentary box after Michael Smith's astonishing nine-darter!
— PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC) January 3, 2023
Mardle, who managed to find the right words for the occasion, exclaimed: “One man misses, does the other man get? I have never seen the like. Come on Bully Boy. Yes! Double 12…That is the most amazing leg of darts you will ever see in your life. I can’t speak, I can’t speak.”
The reference was not lost on a lot of people and, while Mardle admits to ripping off Castleford commentator Mick Morgan, who got angry during a match with Wigan, he hopes a new generation will now enjoy it.
“Rod Studd (Sky Sports colleague) introduced me to it about a dozen years ago and ‘I can’t speak’ is something that me and Rod say to each other a lot and when there are no words I say it,” Mardle told the PA news agency.
“I even say it at home. I say it to Mrs Mardle and then walk away.
Probs boring everyone but I’ve watched that 9 about a million times. It wouldn’t have even been that good if @Wayne501Mardle wasn’t commenting it. What a credit he is to the team. 😍
— Michael Smith (@Michael180Smith) January 4, 2023
“I don’t watch rugby league, I have no enthusiasm for it, but it’s a brilliant way of saying, ‘No matter what, you can’t add anything so you might as well go quiet’.
“Rather than go quiet, I just offer ‘I can’t speak’. I do it so often it just came naturally to me, but it is an absolute rip off of Mike Morgan. I am not claiming it as mine, it just came out.
“Maybe I have introduced it to a new generation. That would have been in the 1990s, so maybe I have introduced it to a generation that had no idea.
“I am not claiming it to be mine. These things just come around, many times people have said ‘They think it’s all over’. We all know where it’s come from.
“Many times things get passed down and the meaning becomes different. I hadn’t thought about it but originally it was an unbelievable thing in a negative way – but this was a positive.”
Despite it being in his constant consciousness, Mardle insists it was just a natural reaction to what he had seen.
“I am quite a reactionary person, when I plan I can sound scripted and it can all sound a bit fake,” he added.
“My favourite commentators are those that react. I didn’t plan for that, I didn’t know what was going to come out when Michael Smith hit the 60 and then 57 and then the 24.
“Sid Waddell used to say, ‘I am practising my ad-libs’ which is a fantastic line, but I don’t. I am reactionary and I like the fact it comes out as a bit of a fan. I try to keep it as natural as I can.”
That instinctiveness made Mardle’s commentary almost as perfect as Smith’s darts and means he will be forever tied to a timeless piece of sporting action.
“I haven’t thought about it like that, I am not sure it is my commentary that will stand the test of time. The leg will,” he claimed.
“I have been involved in darts for 40 years and I have never, ever seen it and my commentary will be part of that leg.
“I was in the right place at the right time and if anyone thinks I enhanced it, then I am happy to go along with that. I am just a fan with a mic in my hand, I was in a privileged position.
— Channel 4 Sport (@C4Sport) June 3, 2022
However, it all got a bit too much for the excitable Mardle, whose stint in the commentary box was cut short due to a sore throat.
“Of course I was gutted to miss the rest of it,” he added. “What was so annoying is that I knew it would be a temporary thing.
“I knew I couldn’t push it anyway just because the way my throat was. I don’t plan these things, I couldn’t help myself.
“I can’t not be 100 per cent in a World Championship final, I can’t be holding back. I just gave it everything. It didn’t work out for me but it did in a weird way. I went out on a high.”