We knew this day would come, we just didn’t want it to nor were we prepared for the aftermath…to be frank it’s just not summer in Australia without Richie Benaud calling the cricket. There is really one thing he understands more than most… the power of silence!
For so long now Benaud (or should that be Sir Richie…he should be Knighted shouldn’t he? #SirRichie) has been the soundtrack of summer…his soothing tones, carefully selected words, tongue titillating expressions and even his ability to time absolute silence to perfection so the crowd at home watching on the idiot box could soak up the atmosphere of the MCG – the crowd’s roar, the hammer of leather on willow, and the calls of the runner… silence. You don’t miss it ’til it isn’t there.
I have always loved watching the cricket being called by Benaud. It’s hand in glove, it’s crackers and cheese, it’s steak on the BBQ. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the larger than life Max Walker, or the over-excitable lisping of Bill Lawry (who turns 78 in a few weeks!), or even the walking statistician that was Tony Greig, but Benaud was the benchmark. He was the standard and people the world over have loved consuming his call for the past 39 years.
But now, with many of the new breed commentators competing for space and air time, it seems the cricket commentary has been inflicted by the same disease as the Olympics…so much commentary, so many interviews, not enough game and no silence. What’s wrong with just letting us watch every now and again? Do we have to fill every second with call? It’s not supposed to be like advertising on a highway, with every conceivable space filled in… Some of it is best left to be interpreted by ourselves, in silence as we watch the ball sail into the outfield.
And I’m not saying that today’s commentators are not good chop either…I actually like Heals, Tubby Taylor and Slates but the apparent competition vocal domination sometimes makes the call less appealing than fingernails down a chalkboard! It’s just not cricket. Maybe Benaud should have control of the ‘on air’ button, from the comfort of his lounge couch at home. When he wants silence, or should I say, knows that there should be silence, he depresses the button, cutting Mark Nicholas off mid sentence, allowing the audience to enjoy the simplicity of silence, interrupted only by the crack of a ball being cut over point for four.
So here’s my call…in the same way that professional footballers should exercise some self control when it comes to texting and many, MANY other things, I call on the commentary team to learn from the master, the Jedi Knight of commentators, and exercise some restraint. Let the game occasionally call itself. In the end, it’s a pretty simple game and the simplicity needs to be allowed to cut through the covers.
I guess there’s always the mute button…
And so, I call for a Knighthood for #SirBenaud and urge you to share this article with the hashtag! Let’s call for the legend to be remembered while he is here to share in the moment – now that would be “Marvellous”