Friday, 10 April 2015


I woke this morning to the sad news that the great Richie Benaud has gone to join Arlott, Johnners and CMJ in the celestial commentary box. This news, I'm glad to say, was deemed sufficiently important to knock the latest election nonsense off the top of the bulletins - Benaud was probably the last cricket commentator to be that big a figure (yes, all right, Geoffrey - maybe you too).
 Benaud was a brilliant leg-spinner and a wily captain who never lost a series - I'm old enough to remember seeing him in action - but as a commentator, especially as he matured into the role and became ever more laconic, he was in a class of his own. He knew the value of stillness and silence, and never wasted a word, saying exactly what was needed, and no more, with a perfect blend of immediacy and accuracy (he had the sharpest eye of any commentator). To do this at all - let alone to keep it up for as many years as Benaud did - is an extraordinary feat. It is, after all, a kind of simultaneous translation - of the action, often subtle and complex, on the pitch into clear images in the listener's mind. Benaud mastered it like no one else - and his is a case where, truly, there will never be another. The style of cricket commentary has changed too much, from Benaud's 'less is more' approach to the virtually non-stop chatter of today. I miss those silences.

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