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His popularity enhanced by Billy Birmingham. Probably by a factor of 10. I never understood why people thought he was that good. Still, he can start up with Tony all over again

Tony Tea

Richie was an excellent commentator, especially in comparison to his contemporaries on Nine, which exaggerated his reputation. As Prof Forp and myself have discussed, though, the extension of his "knew when to keep quiet" shtick is that he would have been perfect if he said nothing at all, which is a variant of reductio ad absurdum.

BBQ at Richie's!!

I'm with philsgone. Excellent commentator, yes, but it's all relative. His work had way too much of a stuck-up opinionated tone about it. Tell us again how you single-handedly put an end to Ian Meckiff's career and how awesome you were. Can't remember how it goes....

I'd call him an INSTITUTION, rather than an EXCELLENT commentator. There was something soothing and familiar about Richie introducing every day's play. I pretty much have known no other MC, before Mark Nicholas started to get phased in. I grew up with Richie.

Also, what else philsgone said. Thank Christ for Billy Birmingham. He crystalised what annoyed me about Richie and made it funny. To his credit, even Richie began to get the joke, and became a lot less full of himself during his salad days.

BBQ at Richie's!!

But don't we all....

Big Ramifications

You are very wise BBQ@R, whoever you are.

Richie's Ian Meckiff story went beyond a theory on chucking [one strike and you're out!] wrapped inside an interesting tale. I detected a disturbing amount of schadenfreude the [many] times he recounted the day.

Alan McGilvray and Dennis Cometti are the only 2 commentators who I would rate as "excellent", off the top of my head.**

Richie sits in between Dennis and Bruce on the speeeeeeeecial scale.

** And bearing in mind the weird, local, free-to-air eccentricities regarding the anointing of sports media personalities. There are plenty of East coast and pay TV fellas that I've barely heard utter a syllable.

BBQ at Richie's

Replace "salad days" with "twilight of his career", or something similar. Basically add 30 years to what I just said.

ps: Richie!

Professor Rosseforp

I enjoyed Richie Benaud as a cricketer, and as a writer, and am sad for his passing.
I learned more from listening to Alan McGilvray, and was more entertained by Keith Miller ; I enjoyed hearing Henry Blofeld and Harsha Bhogle more. But Benaud's ubiquity meant that his commentaries defined an era, particularly because of his role in World Series Cricket, and his involvement in the evolution of tv broadcasting of the game.

Tony Tea

I think Richie was an excellent commentator. It's just that the last few years didn't do him any favours as Nine propped him up in the corner to add gravitas to its flailing commentary model despite the fact his age was showing.


One of my favourites came in the Oval Test in 2005. Langer decided he wasn't going to let Ashley Giles bowl to him, and threw the kitchen sink at him on the first ball of his opening spell.

"Now he hasn't quite got hold of that......" *CRASH* as it lands on some seats just beyond the sightscreen "...... or otherwise it would have gone for nine".

I wouldn't describe him as an excellent commentator either, and agree that institution is a better way of putting it (like an old pair of jeans!). He had character and class though, which is a lot more than we've been getting recently. I've thought about it lately and I'm not sure there ARE any television commentators that I would describe as being "excellent". It seems that as soon as they get settled in they start to annoy me. It is a bit of a fool's errand for guys like us, though - what can an ex-player really tell us about the nuts and bolts of the game that we don't already know? Ian Chappell seems to be one of the few that really draws on his career and puts you in the mind of a captain or player. The rest are excitable boofheads or are just stating the obvious.

And yes, there's no question that Birmingham added to his notoriety, as he did to all of them. But imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and all that. Billy didn't do it alone, either - Richie provided a pretty decent canvas! I always thought that as funny as it was, there was a lot of respect from Birmingham, somehow. I hope he gets invited to the funeral.

Tony Tea

You guys are missing half the story - he did not commentate alone. Sure Richie was able to look good in comparison with his colleagues, but nor did his colleagues enhance Richie. Can you imagine how good a commentary team it would have been had Richie been surrounded by guns, not chumps? Richie & Athers for me.


Benaud was possibly the best captain Australia has had but I never thought he was a great commentator. Chappelli was far better for those who understand cricket on NEIN. He was onae very ordinary dresser.

Billy Birmingham made him famous nut Benaud hated him for sending him up.

Big Ramifications

Athers is a champ. I'm still laughing at the TV "report" I saw on Aussie sledging not too long ago. Athers was interviewed and he mentioned how Warnie [et al.] never bothered to sledge him because he didn't give a shit.... never reacted or answered back.

Athers for GG!

Big Ramifications

Erm. Obviously there would have been the first ½ dozen times when the Aussies were testing the waters before they gave up.

Big Ramifications
Alan McGilvray and Dennis Cometti are the only 2 commentators who I would rate as "excellent", off the top of my head.

Pretty sure there are ~2 more ABC National / BBC radio cricket commentators who I would rate as excellent, but I couldn't tell you their names.

Which is probably one of the main reason why they are excellent commentators.

Richie sits in between Dennis and Bruce on the speeeeeeeecial scale.

That's Bruce doing track+field, not Bruce doing AFL.

I am and will always be Not Trampis

Richie was probably the best captain of Australia. He had only two test class bowlers. Davo and himself.

He was an attacking skipper and was the best in man management.

As a Commentator he was over-rated. Chappell was by far superior on Nein but then there were no decent commentators on Nein.
Like the rest he often confused the leg cutter with the outswinger. don'y know why?

He was perhaps the worst dresser I have seen on TV. did he get dressed in the dark?

He was very dark on Billie Birmingham who really made him famous!

David H

Richie was a fan of Birmingham until the sketch where BB portrayed him as a wife beater, spurred on by having a bad day at work. I would hope that most people would stand with Richie in that dispute.

As a commentator, he did the job he was paid to do. There's no point comparing his work to the radio commentators, because they had different, if not mutually exclusive roles. On TV, silence is golden; on radio, it's dead air.

Of course the lionisation of him in the mainstream press is the usual desperate attempt to present the ideal Australian as a dying breed, and particularly as part of a lost culture, which is obviously nonsense, but he was for cricket a larger than life character you just can't imagine any current blokes being. He had far more self awareness than a Warne or Taylor, and had a sense of what was needed to make a slow, unwinding sport interesting, without resorting to counting the total competition tally of sixes (to name a random recent example).

He'll be missed because he was a better media man than he was a player, and we can only hope somebody like that is found soon.

I am and will always be Not Trampis

I didn't know that.

He was a good writer. Read any books he wrote on cricket. always worth a read. Much better at writing than commentating IMHO.

I have the 2005 DVD and at times he is embarrassing. He should have retired earlier.

I am and will always be Not Trampis

Thanks for that I didn't know that. Certainly the others on 9 said he was not fond of Birmingham. Makes sense.

He was a very good writer. any book he wrote on cricket is worth a read. Better reader than commentator.

I have to say the others on BCC were much better. Boycs is fantastic to listen to. Very strange but Nugget Miller was boring so you never know.

Tony Tea

Nugget, as I barely remember him from the ABC in the late 70s, always seemed to be drunk. He was a hopeless commentator.

Big Ramifications

My mail is Richie didn't like Billy Birmingham simply because of all the profanity. I can't recall any wife-beating jokes - can you help me out David H?

Right at the end of his career I picked a few times where Richie gave Billy a sly hat-tip.

Tony Tea

Read these, Sizzler.

Big Ramifications

Huge, thanks Tony.

Totally agree with the Chappelli critique, it was the only one Billy didn't even get close. And from the doyen himself. I feel validated at last.

// I can understand where he was coming from
// the dull almost disinterested delivery
/// but he didn't get it right


At the end of Still the 12th Man, after Max Walker has hi-jacked the commentary box and Richie has had the day from hell, he goes home and his wife says "it was nice of you to give Max another go, he still sounds very good, doesn't he?" at which point he hits her and that's the end of the album. There are also some moments in Boned! when Richie destroys multiple kitchens, but I'm not sure that counts. I had never heard the wife-beating story before, and from what I've read Richie was always broadly-speaking a fan, give or take the caveats about the swearing and Chappell. I think people have always assumed that he didn't like the recordings because not many people are a fan of having the piss taken out of them, but there's nothing I've read that suggests that he had a big problem with them at all.

Big Ramifications

Cheers, Carrot!

While I've got youse:

Richie's Ian Meckiff story went beyond a theory on chucking wrapped inside an interesting tale. I detected a disturbing amount of schadenfreude the [many] times he recounted the day.

Allow me to restate that as "a disturbing lack of EMPATHY".... coming from someone who played a major role in ending someone's dreams. Maybe there was just a pinch of schadenfreude as well, but certainly not disturbing levels.

I normally wouldn't take the time to make such a correction. "Publish and be damned!!" But we're talking about the doyen, here.


The saddest part of all is what we have to look forward to in the central missionary position form here on in. Its radio on, tv volume down from here on in. Also digital ABC grandstand clear as a bell, a much better way to listen to the game

Tony Tea

Grandstand gets right up my hooter. If Fairfax Radio continues to broadcast cricket I will be giving ABC the arse full time and braving the Fairfax ads. No doubt, though, Fairfax will over cook its commentary.

David H

I don't have the issue of the Herald-Sun anymore where he said it, but as I remember, it was indeed that incident of hitting his wife on the end of the record that crossed the line from being unnecessary swearing (in the opinion of an old timer) to presenting him as violent, which brought about the split between Richie and BB. I read the interview before hearing the CD, and was surprised that Richie must have been overreacting, until I heard the sketch, and was amazed that Birmingham would use that as a cheap joke. He'd always traded in casual racism and sexism, but it was still shocking to hear it in that context.


But was there a "split"? From what I hear, beyond the odd letter they didn't really have a relationship anyway. There was an interview on Nein last summer where BB said that they didn't actually meet until the '99 World Cup.

Re: the casual racism and sexism (there were plenty of examples of homophobic humour as well) - I think we need to remember the recordings as a product of their time. 1980's Australia, where he really established himself, was not exactly known for its sophistication - think Kevin "Bloody" Wilson and Rodney Rude and how popular they were. The later stuff was not quite so puerile.

And as I type, Cook gets bowled by Roach, to leave the score on guess what? 2/22....

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