The recent news that Richie Benaud is set to retire saddens me, not so much because Ritchie is retiring, but because of the bunch of commentators he’s leaving behind. I liken Richie to Bert Newton - they both look a bit like frogs, they’re old blokes in the TV industry and I don’t completely understand their appeal, but they’re pretty good at what they do. I like Richie as he doesn’t over-commentate like so many of his colleagues - he doesn’t pretend to know why the ball deviated at 11.3 degrees off a crack, as opposed to some others like Ian Chappell or Mark Nicholas who try to wow us with their knowledge. I love the non-stop natter of cricket radio commentary, but on TV, I love the sound of the crowd, the leather on willow, the Channel 9 cricket theme song - not the commentators! Ritchie never said more than he needed to, and when he did say something, it contributed.
And another thing, whilst we’re ranting, why is it that the commentators throughout the Twenty20 commentary have to continually tell us how good it is, how it’s such a different game, how kids bring their parents along yadda yadda yadda. We know! That’s why we’re watching it!
I’d like to see James Brayshaw do more cricket - he’s big in Victoria, has some insight and is interesting to listen to. But for some reason he’s hosting the new Channel 9 show “WipeOut” - it beats me how a modern-day version of “It’s a knock-out” got through a programmers’ meeting, but anyway… Brayshaw would be much better than some of the others - you can pretty much bet against anything Healy says. If he says in his monotone that Bracken is going to try and bowl a yorker, Bracken will bowl a bouncer. If he says Ponting is due for a big score, call up John the bookie and put $10 on him for under 10 runs. As for Mark Nicholas, well, he’s OK, but if I'm allowed a moment of patriotism, does Channel 9 really need to pay Nicholas to come out to Australia for 6 months of each year chasing the summer, simply to hear his Westminster accent? Not that he’s bad, he’s quite good, but there are certainly better commentators in Australia. As for Michael Slater - as a batsman, he was great - fearless and exciting. Nowadays he’s clearly been through a few too many media-training courses for Sunday morning TV.
I’ll miss Ritchie and I think we’ll feel his void when he’s gone.