The Wisden Cricketer Readers' Poll August 17, 2005

Keeping it simple

John Stern talks to Richie Benaud

John Stern talks to Richie Benaud

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Richie Benaud: 'It's a matter of having a friendly conversation with someone in their own home' © Getty Images

What's your reaction to being voted the nation's favourite commentator by TWC readers?
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. Mine is to try to get through the microphone into people's living room and the first thing if you're going to do that is be polite, not offend anyone but at the same time paint the picture as you see it - which is what I try to do. There are all sorts of little traps to avoid like `as you can see on your screen', things like that. Generally it's a matter of having a friendly conversation with someone in their own home.

How do you judge how technical to be?
Keep it simple. It was always explained to me as being a simple game by the likes of Keith Miller, Arthur Morris and Ray Lindwall - and my father. All of them said keep it simple. The over-riding thing is that if I can't add anything to what's on the screen then I just shut up. Second thing is try to put your brain into gear before you open your mouth. And thirdly, never try to be too clever.

Do you receive much correspondence?
Yes. Since Channel 4 has been doing the cricket here correspondence has increased from the days when I used to do it for the BBC. I pick up quite a bit of stuff from people who write in, people who say they didn't understand something which might mean we haven't explained it properly. And therefore we'll go back and look at it again with Gary Franses, the producer. If I'm walking up Coogee Bay Road in Sydney the day after a match it might take me half an hour because people are wanting to know about the game and very rarely do I get back home without having picked up some information about something we did correctly or something we did wrong.

What do you think of all the people who imitate you like Rory Bremner?
Satire is great if it's done well. Some shouldn't bother giving up their day job. But satire done well is very, very good. The only objection I have is when someone in business uses your name or image to sell something. For me that's dishonest and I really do object to that.

What will you be up to next year when C4 is not covering the cricket?
It would be absolutely outrageous of me to think of anything this year other than working for Channel 4. It would be to my discredit and Channel 4 would regard it as not very good either. All I'm interested in is making this Channel 4's best ever year. I might drop off the tweak tomorrow so next year might not matter.