The Wisden Cricketer / Cricinfo Readers' Poll August 17, 2005

The Bradman of the microphone

Cricinfo staff
Richie Benaud has been voted the nation's favourite cricket commentator in a poll of nearly 12,000 fans, conducted by The Wisden Cricketer and Cricinfo

Richie Benaud: the people's choice © Getty Images
The full results
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Richie Benaud has been voted the nation's favourite cricket commentator in a poll of nearly 12,000 fans, conducted by The Wisden Cricketer and Cricinfo.

In the poll, which was by far the largest ever conducted by Wisden, Benaud received more than 10,000 votes, an incredible 3,000 more than next man Michael Holding.

With Channel 4's coverage being replaced by the exclusive Sky deal from next season, the poll aimed to identify the mix of commentators preferred by the country's growing ranks of cricket fans. Channel 4 and Sky each have three commentators in the six-man Dream Team, with Geoff Boycott, David Gower, Mark Nicholas and Ian Botham making up the placings after Benaud and Holding.

Learning of his nomination Benaud told John Stern, The Wisden Cricketer's editor: "All these things are nice but you've got to bear in mind that out there - and I do get correspondence to confirm this - there are others who don't have me at the top, who say why don't you talk more, why don't you do this or that. Everyone has their own idea about commentating."

Michael Holding: his vocals have been likened to 'burnt molasses' © Getty Images
"Benaud is the Bradman of the microphone, not just a master of his craft but its definitive exponent," wrote Tim de Lisle. "He never forgets that the pictures are the thing and that his job is to add to them, not tell us what we can already see. He uses silence like a dot ball. Far from banging on about things being better in his day, he insists Test cricket has been more entertaining than ever in the past two years. And he should know: he has been part of the international scene since 1952, and has attended more Tests than anyone else, alive or dead.

"Still, the voters have picked a balanced side, half Sky, half Channel 4, part posh, part populist, two-thirds English but headed by an Australian and a Jamaican," he concluded. "Above all, they have voted Benaud. Sky's instinct is to chase youth, but on the other hand it has a boss who is also still working at 74. Go on, Mr Murdoch. Sign him up."

Commentary 1st VI

Votes % of votes
Richie Benaud 10128 85%
Michael Holding 7048 59%
Geoffrey Boycott 6973 57%
David Gower 5842 49%
Mark Nicholas 4941 42%
Ian Botham 4854 41%

Commentary 2nd VI

Votes % of votes
Mike Atherton 4736 40%
David Lloyd 4571 39%
Nasser Hussain 3133 26%
Simon Hughes 2806 24%
Bob Willis 1802 15%
Dermot Reeve† 1463 12%
Paul Allot 1266 11%
† After the poll began Dermot Reeve withdrew from Channel 4's commentary team

Five of the six slots in each voter's dream team had to go to a regular commentator from the two current TV networks. In the sixth, voters were allowed to select a wildcard and many chose to do so. This was a tougher scrap than the main poll because a larger number of candidates were battling for only one slot on each voter's team. Here is how it went:

Henry Blofeld 1334
Tony Greig 1169
Tony Cozier 1117
Ian Chappell 789
Navjot Sidhu 789
Michael Slater 685
Ian Ward 680
Ian Smith 631
Harsha Bhogle 607
Ravi Shastri 583
Ian Bishop 524
Jonathan Agnew 423
Christopher Martin-Jenkins 408
Qualification: 400 votes

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