The sun could be about to set on Richie Benaud’s time in the television spotlights, but he is still unmatched when it comes to finding Australia’s most magical cricket broadcaster.
Benaud, 76, is currently two years into a three-year contract with Nine and whispers abound that he is entering his final spell after a reign making John Howard’s time in office feel like the length of a summer holiday.
If the results of the first www.baggygreen.com.au poll to pick the country’s best commentator are a guide he should be re-signed again and again.
Benaud began with Nine in Australia in 1977 and his popularity has been enhanced by 42 summers inside England television screens. With his impressive global coverage mixed with his carefully-spaced words and under-stated delivery, he has become a lasting — and virtually unbeatable — favourite.
He received almost 20% of the nominations from the 15,641 readers who chose their favourite during the four-week voting period.
Benaud polled well immediately, leading by 389 after the first week, and increased his buffer over the second-placed Kerry O’Keeffe to 851 by stumps. O’Keeffe, 57, has impressed ABC audiences with his clever analysis, witty one-liners and throaty laugh, and he ensured former Test leg-spinners filled the top two places.
The ABC occupied two of the first four spots, with Jim Maxwell the only non-first-class player appearing above the halfway point of the 26 contenders. Bill Lawry’s enthusiastic screeching earned him third spot, 730 votes behind O’Keeffe, while Mark Nicholas, who is being groomed as the man most likely to take over Benaud’s chair, was an encouraging fifth.
Tony Greig and Peter Roebuck also showed English backgrounds were not a disadvantage by finishing 8th and 10th.
Fresh talent was rewarded when Damien Fleming, who sits in both the ABC and Fox Sports camps, placed sixth while Michael Slater’s exciting calls earned him a spot at No 7. Mark Waugh (9th) performed well on his return to the domestic circuit as a talking head, elbowing in front of his former teammates Ian Healy (11th) and Mark Taylor (15th) to earn a berth in the top ten.
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Thursday, April 26th, 2007 and is filed under Cricket.
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