Richie Benaud : biography
The idea for what became his trademark, wearing a cream jacket during live commentary, came from Channel 9 owner Kerry Packer, who suggested the look to help Benaud stand out from the rest of the commentary team.
He also helped to design a computer-based parody of himself available for download off Channel 4’s website called Desktop Richie. It was developed by the software company Turtlez Ltd. Having downloaded this, cricket fans would be treated to live Test match updates and weather reports from a cartoon version of Benaud with real voice samples such as "Got ‘im!" and "That’s stumps… and time for a glass of something chilled". On Channel 4’s live commentary, Benaud often made sarcastic comments regarding the advertisement of Desktop Richie.
In 2004, Benaud starred in a series of television advertisements for the Australian Tourism Commission, aimed at promoting Australia as a tourist destination. Benaud’s ad featured him in various scenic locations uttering his signature comment, "Marvellous!" He also appeared in Richie Benaud’s Greatest XI, a video in which he chooses his own team. A limited version was shown on the Nine Network after a match between Australia and Pakistan.
Benaud has become 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 intends to continue spending the Northern Hemisphere summer in Britain writing, and will continue working for the Nine Network.
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 book My Spin on Cricket was published in 2005.
His younger brother John also played Test cricket for Australia.
His distinctive speaking style is 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 over 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 has been commentating though regularly during the 2011/12 season and has been a part of the commentating team/roster.