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Friday 10 April 2015

Billy Birmingham Tribute to Richie Benaud

Billy Birmingham - forever synonymous with Richie Benaud.

The late, great cricket commentator (see more about his life here) and this beautiful tribute from Billy - who created 'The 12th Man' and will always be associated with his exaggerated "chew for chwenty chew" Richie quip - will become the most moving tribute you will read. Read and share the love:

"It's hard to put into words the way I've been feeling since I heard Richie "From The Body Of The Same Name" Benaud has passed away.

Very sad. Quite nauseous, actually. Struggling to find the right words. Disoriented.

What is the appropriate response to the passing of a man who has been such an integral part of your life, your career, your identity for more than 30 years?

How are you supposed to feel when the bloke with whom millions associate you has delivered his last "chew for chwenty chew"?

I know I won't be alone in feeling this way. Richie has occupied a special place in our homes and our hearts for decades. The world changed so much over that time. Richie didn't seem to.

I must admit that I was quite shocked to see how his health had deteriorated when we shot his brilliant Australia Day "lamb" commercial together at the start of the summer.

The first thing I noticed was that his always impeccably coiffed hair had succumbed to the ravages of chemotherapy. Then, when I put my arm around him and felt just how much he had wasted away, I was profoundly shocked and saddened. The recovery from the accident in the Sunbeam had clearly it taken out of him but he was now facing an even bigger battle as his years of playing cricket hatless had resulted in skin cancer.

There was something in his eyes, too. If you asked him how he was, the reply was always along the lines of, "Pleased to report I'm on the mend." But you knew that was stoicism, not reality. I was bloody amazed that he even had the strength to show up at all.

How thrilled I was to have been able to catch up with the great man one more time and to be a small part of his fabulous TV ad.

I took the piss out of him for more than 30 years and now here I was working with him on what turned out to be his last major project.

How marvellous!

It's hard to imagine there is another Australian out there as universally loved as Richie. It was a kind of affection that isn't conditional on cricketing skills or commentary work. People just adored the man.

That's why everyone gives their mate a knowing nudge when the scoreboard ticks over to 2-22, why entire sections of the crowd don silver wigs and beige jackets at the Sydney Test each year, why reciting Richie's commentary gems has become a national pastime.

Rest in peace, Richie.

Incomparable, irreplaceable, the one and only (he didn't like the word 'doyen’)."

Craving to hear Billy as Richie? Here we are:

And all the Richie's you'd see at the Test cricket… Marvellous!

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