Richie Benaud t-shirts

I want one of these now.


Brilliant. Sorry for lack of posts lately. Far too busy.

TWC commentator’s poll

The latest issue of the Wisden Cricketer features the now regular poll on readers’ favourite commentators. Geoff Boycott takes top spot, followed by Jonathan Agnew, David Lloyd, Michael Atherton and Michael Holding.

What does everyone think about that?

And why was Mark Nicholas only eighth? Am I the only person around of the opinion that Nicholas is an unheralded broadcasting genius and at least the equal of Richie Benaud? Or do I go too far?

Cruel game for those on debut


How bad must Malinda Warnapura be feeling? To get a Test golden duck is bad enough, but a golden duck on deboo, as Richie would say, against Bangladesh on a featherbed when your partner gets a ton must be crushing. He’s unlikely to bat again in this match and may not get another innings if Upul Tharanga returns from injury.

The only other deboo goldie I can remember was Alan Wells in 1995, caught Sherwin Campbell, bowled Curtly Ambrose. Again, most other batsmen did well on that track, including two hundreds (Lara and Hooper) and six others who made it to 80 and didn’t convert (four were out in the nervous 90s). Wells did at least make an unbeaten 3 in the second innings, but that was his lot.

I’m sure there were others?

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!

A French XI

Further to the French rules of cricket the other day, a Beige Brigadier has prompted this post (so blame him): a French XI. All names must have French origins, or sound vaguely Frenchish. Such as Richie Benaud, Jacques Kallis, Bernard Bosanquet (who?) and so on.

Far too much fun. Get to it.

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.

Super jacket, that

The cream, the bone, the white, the off-white, the ivory, or the beige? It’s Richie Benaud from the 1974-75 series

Super jacket, that

Courtesy of TMS.

Boned: The 12th Man

Buy Boned: The 12th Man by Billy Birmingham

I’ve often mentioned Billy Birmingham’s 12th Man Tapes here, and most (not all) of Cricinfo’s editorial team are complete addicts. We heard from the latest Australian member of the team, Brydon, that Birmingham is releasing a new album in time for Christmas which got the biggest cheer of the day. Fantastic news.

Billy Birmingham on a sofa

Called Boned, it contains all the usual stuff with Richie Benaud, Tony Greig, Bill Lawry and Ian Chappell. It’s going to be immense – Amazon are doing pre-orders so buy it now.

The Sydney Morning Herald have an interview with Birmingham who begins with what could be Quote of the Century.

“I’m all over the place like a suicide bomber’s sandshoe,” he tells The Sun-Herald.

“There’s so much material. The drama has been trying to cut it all down so it fits onto a double album.”

The 12th Man’s catalogue stands at almost 2million units sold. Have no doubt about Boned!becoming the biggest-selling album at Christmas. All six previous albums from The 12th Man have reached No.1 on the ARIA chart, making Birmingham the only Australian recording artist to have reached top spot with every one of his releases.

“It couldn’t have happened in any other country,” he says. “We’re a nation of sports nuts and piss-takers and all I’ve done is combine the two.”

McGuire telephones Benaud and tells him he’s been boned: the term bandied about when the real-life McGuire was thinking about sacking Channel Nine presenter Jessica Rowe. That night, Richie dreams that he telephones Kerry Packer in heaven and the former Nine boss tells him to fight the good fight against McGuire. Benaud, Ian Chappell, Tony Greig, Bill Lawry, Mark Nicholas and the rest of the commentators storm Martin Place in Sydney with a petition to get their jobs back.

A Family Legacy (short cricket film)

We’ve been musing about Youtube recently at work, and are constantly baffled by the amount of stuff on the site. It really is mad.

But until now I hadn’t come across any short films (cricket-based)…this is well worth watching if you’ve 10 minutes spare. Some funny moments and a pretty good Richie Benaud impression (equally good impersonation of a kiwi commentator too!). Click here if you can’t see the video below.

Yeah, but what was he doing in the broadcast box in the first place?

I was only mildly surprised to hear that Dean Jones had shot himself in the foot and shot his commentating career to Hell by making an outrageous remark about Hashim Amla.

Cricket watchers know Deano is not above making stupid remarks. His commentating career has demonstrated that he is an inexhaustable fund of imbecilic remarks. He covered Australia’s 2004 tour of India and drove me to distraction with his inanities. He mostly talks in cliches. In fact, he can talk in cliches till the cows come home.

In truth, he’s always been a self-centred and rather thoughtless individual who has a poor record of putting his mouth into action before engaging his brain. As a player, he alienated his team-mates with Australia, Victoria and even with Derbyshire. His file as a player, for all his brilliance as a batsman, was undoubtedly scarred with his ‘poor team player’ reputation.

I only needed one day of hearing Dean Jones as a commentator to understand that he was patently unsuitable for the position. He is constantly inflicted on Asian audiences, I guess because of his supposed credibility gained by playing 52 Tests for Australia. However, in those 52 Test matches, he learned nothing about what is required to be a broadcaster.

Quite rightly a lot of the focus of this controversy will fall onto Jones, for his disgraceful remarks. However, his employer, Ten Sports, also deserve a full measure of disapproval, for hiring someone who had a demonstrated inability to perform the fairly important job of cricket commentator with an appropriate degree of professionalism.

No doubt it is helpful to have played the game at at least first class level. However, playing ability is not broadcasting ability. The doyenne of television broadcasters, Richie Benaud, made a point of staying in England after Australia’s 1956 tour of England, to undertake a sports broadcasting course conducted by the BBC. He was also a trained newspaper journalist, in an era when Australian cricketers had to have a separate career. No million dollar salaries back then. So Benaud, who became the model of the player broadcaster, came to the microphone with a thorough and thoughtful understanding of the television industry. Few of his successors as player-broadcasters have had such a background, and it shows.

The appropriate model is perhaps the old fashioned radio model, where a professional journalist does the ball-by-ball comments, and the old player provides the expert commentary. On radio, the old pro has time to gather his thoughts, and thus (hopefully) sparing himself the embarrassment that Jones has put himself though. In one way, I suppose it is sad that Jones has self destructed in this way. But I ask you, what was he doing in that broadcast box in the first place?