Heartening aspirant woman sportscasters

A familiar figure over the years, Donna has proven that women can make the cut as far as broadcasting is concerned.

Wednesday, January 30, 2022

Donna Symmonds

Sportz Interactive

A veteran on the commentary circuit in the Caribbean, Donna Symmonds has been in the vocation for more than two decades. A lawyer by occupation, she found profound interest in cricket and tennis since her childhood. Priya Ganoo profiles this unique, yet enterprising individual.


Her father was the High Commissioner for Barbados in London and thereby she grew up in Bridgetown. Symmonds went on to represent her school in the sport she loves and also pursued tennis at the junior level. Donna was often called “sporty” in school due to her passion for sports.

She has relentlessly been associated with the game and was on the commentary team for television broadcaster SetMax’s cricket show “Extraa Innings” during the 2003 and 2007 World Cup editions.

Her big breakthrough in her desired career was much of a happenstance. A childhood friend Sharon Jones was a producer on the local sports station and badly needed a tennis commentator. At very short-notice she asked Donna to be of assistance, who reluctantly agreed as commentating for live tennis is considered rather tricky.

Symmonds’ successful debut brought overtures from the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation to persuade her to try her hand at cricket.

It started with a lot of mixed reactions from critics and listeners alike but as time passed, the reactions were positive and she took on the field for commentating full-time. She first did radio commentary on tennis there in 1985 and then on cricket in the inter-islands Shell Shield competition in 1987, which led to her first Test Match commentary during Pakistan’s tour of the West Indies at Barbados in 1988.

Jonathan Agnew and Vic Marks were sitting in on local radio between stints, got to know Donna and suggested she try out for Test Match Special (TMS). She was hired by long-time TMS producer Peter Baxter in 1998. He didn't have to blow any trumpets because he recognised she was good and had plenty of experience.

Donna’s cricketing background is reflected in her impressive commentary style. She was always outspoken about almost everything and so commentating came almost as second nature. She doesn't struggle to interpret the intricacies of the game. She is calm, seeing parallels between standing up before a judge and talking into a microphone.

She still feels that the women’s game needs a big boost at a much higher level and commercialization will be a major help. Today she is the most well-known female international cricket commentator.