It was indeed shocking to know about the passing of one of cricket’s greatest voices. Richie Benaud, died in his sleep aged 84. It was a sad day for cricket indeed, very very sad.
Yes, Richie Benaud has gone. It has to be repeated to feel true. A flame that burned brightly for 84 years has flickered of late and now died. There is a darkness. If you have grown up watching cricket, you have grown up watching Richie Benaud. He was a constant in all our lives. The memories, the sights and sound of him, will live with us forever. — Mark Nicholas
His voice was indeed magical. It brought a magic touch to whichever game I’d see. I first heard him during one of the games in the Australian summer back in 2004, when India had toured down under. It was on Fox Sports as they directly broadcasted via Channel 9 and Richie was the lead commentator. Just turned 6, I was too young to understand those cricketing terms they said. Though India had lost the game by 18 runs, the voice was all that captivated me to watch that game fully. I was indeed mesmerized by that voice of his, it was simply and truly, magical.
Later on, I got the opportunity to listen to him on commentary through video game of Cricket 2004. My brother had a fairly good knowledge about video games and he bought me one of these copies. When I started playing it, I felt the voice to be familiar and later on I come to know it was him. It was indeed a gift for me to listen to commentary whenever I played that video. Later on the editions came on of 2005 and the most popular 2007, Richie lent his voice and time and time again, the game had its own fun to play and to listen to him.
Benaud became a staunch advocate of cricket being available on free-to-view TV. He chose to end his British commentary career, which spanned more than 42 years, when the rights to broadcast live Test match cricket were lost by Channel 4 to the subscription broadcaster British Sky Broadcasting. Thus, the 2005 Ashes series was the last that Benaud commentated on in Britain. His final commentary came near the end of the final day of the Fifth Test at the Oval. His last goodbye was interrupted by Glenn McGrath taking Kevin Pietersen’s wicket; Benaud simply wove his description of the dismissal into what he was already saying. Benaud stated he would spend the Northern Hemisphere summer in Britain writing, and would continue working for the Nine Network in Australia.
Benaud commentated for the BBC TV highlights of the 2006–07 Ashes in Australia as part of his continuing commentary work for Australia’s Nine Network.
Benaud’s distinctive speaking style has been frequently parodied on the Australian comedy series Comedy Inc. and The Twelfth Man. In the case of the latter, comedian Billy Birmingham’s impersonations of Benaud on The Twelfth Man comedy recordings have become legendary, spanning more than twenty years. Chris Barrie of Red Dwarf fame also incorporated impressions of Benaud into his stand-up repertoire.
On 18 February 2009, during a radio interview, Benaud announced that he would be retiring from television commentary. Benaud said: “I’ll be doing Australian cricket next year—2010—but I don’t do any television at all anywhere else now and when I finish next year, then I’ll be doing other things…But that’ll be no more television commentary”.
It was announced on 15 November 2009, that Benaud had signed a three-year agreement with the Nine Network to continue being part of their cricket coverage until 2013, although his role would change from that of ball-by-ball commentary. Benaud said: “I won’t be doing live commentary.” Someone asked me, “Does that mean you’ll never again go into the commentary box?”, “Well, the answer to that”, Benaud replied, “If there is, as there always can be, some emergency or a sensational happening on or off the field where it would be quite ridiculous not to go into the commentary box, of course I’ll be in there doing my job and doing it as professionally as I can. But I won’t be on the live commentary roster. But I will be doing all sorts of, what I regard as, interesting things for Channel Nine on the cricket—special features on the cricket…”. Richie commentated regularly during the 2011–12 season and was part of Nine’s commentating team/roster.
CRICKET WILL MISS YOU SIR! HEAVEN WILL SURELY BE BLESSED LISTENING TO YOU ALONGSIDE TONY GRIEG ON COMMENTARY! 🙂