Life after Benaud

On Desert Island Discs, you are allowed one luxury. Given mine would be a magical television that showed all available live cricket (as well as choice re-runs), I’d be able to pick my favourite pundits to describe the action. Who are my top commentators? In theory, I would only need two to cover the matches, but that would be unfair on them (I’m not a tyrant), so I’d hire five to mix it up and give the others a rest.

Richie Benaud in the comm box

Therefore, below are my five favourite commentators. Benaud would have been there, of course, as would Brian Johnston, but we must all move on. There are honourable mentions for Lloyd, Gower, Holding, Dujon, Nasser, Knight, Ward, Smith, Lawry and Greig, but these five pick themselves.My Top Five: Michael Atherton, Jimmy Adams, Michael Slater, Geoff Boycott and Simon Hughes.

I can’t imagine anyone will disagree, but then it’s your island. Pick who you like!

West Indies in England, 1976 (TV)

This Friday, BBC Two are showing archive footage (and behind the scenes stuff) of West Indies’ tour of England in 1976. This was Tony Greig’s famous “grovelling” comment – read Martin Williamson’s Rewind about it.

The remark was highly inflammatory for a number of reasons, the main one being that Greig’s words, coming from a white South African, were seized on for racist overtones. “The word ‘grovel’ is one guaranteed to raise the blood pressure of any black man,” Lloyd said. “The fact they were used by a white South African made it even worse. We were angry and West Indians everywhere were angry. We resolved to show him and everyone else that the days for grovelling were over.”

More at the Beeb.

Super effort, that; a video or choo to chew over

“Check one choo, check one choo.” Richie, Tony and Bill are back…well, not really. The video is a brilliant mashup of the latest 12th Man and actual footage of the last horrorshow train-wreck Ashes series. Courtesy of Mr Miller who somehow has found his way back to Blighty.

Click here if you can’t see it above.

Vaughan and Jones could return – Ponting

“You’ve got to remember those guys have been ruled out a long time ago and there is still a few months to go before the series,” Ponting said yesterday.

“It’s a long time to get over any sort of injury. I’m pretty sure they will want Vaughan and Jones here if they can get them here. We are preparing to play a full-strength side.”

Come off it! Vaughan’s finished, everyone knows that. But I don’t know what to make of this. Either he’s stirring, or he genuinely thinks both players could return. He’s desperate, isn’t he, to have the exact same England side which beat them last year. He wants a copybook series but a 4-0 result. He’s hurting, still. Am I reading too much into all this?

And look. Legends, one and all. Tony Greig and Bill Lawry on the right, who we at Cricinfo religiously imitate almost every day without fail

Ricky Ponting, Michael Slater, Tony Greig and Bill Lawry

Update: for those preferring proper sentences I’ve written it up on Cricinfo

Classic catches video

Some absolute stunning catches here, well worth watching if only to hear the commentators (Richie Benaud, Bill Lawrie and Tony Greig mainly) go nuts. That one by Mark Taylor at first slip was sensational…

Glassy shot

I avoided the inevitable “Cricket commentators have a SMASHING time” for this post. Richard Grant, batting for Glamorgan, smashed a six through the commentators window. Edward Bevan and Steve Watkin were at the mic: cue two very confused, and slightly puterbed Welshmen.

Listen here.

Reminds me of The 12th Man tapes where Tony Greig is commentating. “Aw look out, it’s coming up here . AND! Richie Benaud has gone down like a sack of shit!”

Paul ‘fatty’ Vautin’s catch

Australians will know all about this catch, but it was new to me. Paul Vautin, former Rugby League player, takes a really fine catch in an Allan Border testimonial match in 1993. The catch itself isn’t the greatest in cricket history, as they say it is, but it’s worth watching just to hear Tony Greig get way too excited!

Girls from South Africa

That ought to get the punters reading! Tony Greig, commentating on South Africa against Australia:

The most beautiful girls in the world come from South Africa. And that’s from Shane Warne…he should know.

Tony’s an utter legend

Blast from the past

A blast from the past just now. Or, as Tony Greig would say, “a blorst from the porst, nice and hord and forst”. November 2004 I wroteth the following:

Richie Benaud commented during New Zealand’s first innings against Australia that no Australian bowler exceeded 140kph “which is pretty worrying.” It was a brief comment, but very interesting. The pitch and conditions suited extreme-pace, so it’s odd that Gillespie in particular didn’t make it to 140.

I don’t want to make this blog entirely biased towards England (but!) England’s bowlers averaged around 140 in most innings this summer. Steve Harmison in particular reached 96mph (154kph) (and averaged 94mph in his 10 overs) in an ODI. The Aussies are getting old…

Did whatshisname, erm…Stuart Clark reach 140 the other day? Don’t think so. Not that speed is the be-all and end-all, of course, but a four-pronged pace attack is such a luxury. And Australia’s bowlers are all, well…they need this bloke Mitchell Johnson to have an immediate impact. Left-armer too.

Funny names

I’m a bit of a fan of funny names and general wordplayage, so it was with great and splendid delight that I finally got round to buying 12th Man (mentioned the other day, actually). In it, Tony Greig, Bill Lawry, Richie Benaud and friends commentate on various games…with some ridiculous, always hilarious and often massively rude names. It’s utter bloody brilliance, and I’d urge you to buy it immediately. I haven’t laughed so much in ages! Then again, I do love purile humour (“And he’s gone for a slash just outside off stump…you really can’t be allowed to do that, the puddle…” etc)

The less rude ones include Kartis Arminhalf, Ramatunga DownaThroata, Wayne King, Hugh Jarse, Brendan Kangaroopoo and Cock Sarker. Not to mention the Sri Lankan spinner, SmellabitofaRatna, and the Indian opener Sunil Haveascar. Oh and IwannaUse Yadunny and Mekarsa Bitrusty, those two splendid middle-order Australians. Who can forget Ilarva Cornishpasty and Snake Sharma too?

Anyway, time for some fun. Let’s draw up a list of alternative names, the ruder and funnier the better. I’ll start it off with two very fine England prospects; Piston Broke and Mebats Snappedinalf.