'All I want from you ...': Packer's advice to Richie Benaud

Legend of both field and commentary box Richie Benaud.
Legend of both field and commentary box Richie Benaud.

Howzat! for a marvellous message? When Fairfax reporter Christine Sams asked cricket commentator extraordinaire Richie Benaud about working in the commentary box, he sent an email reminiscing about his long-time role at Nine.

Respect and adulation should more be accorded to those who are helping others in the world, disabled or ill and perhaps trying to get back some of the fitness they have lost.

A few things I try to remember run along the lines of 'never ask a statement', 'remember the value of the pause', and there are no teams in the TV world called 'we' or 'they'.

What I want most from being a television commentator is to be able to feel that, when I say something, I am talking to friends. Most of those listening to a commentary want a commentator to assist them to understand precisely what is going on out there. If I'm able to do that then I'm very happy. Bear in mind that two of the most annoying phrases a viewer hears are, 'as you can see on your screen ...' and 'of course'.

I was working on television in the United Kingdom on BBC TV in 1963 while I was still captaining Australia.

I didn't do any Australian TV until 1976-77 when I worked for Australian cricket teammate Ron Archer's Channel 0 (Queensland) on the Centenary Test Australia v England at the MCG, then for World Series Cricket and Channel Nine for more than 30 years. I worked for BBC (UK) for 36 years, Channel 4 (UK) for six years and 2005 was the last year I worked on television in England after Mr Murdoch bought cricket's TV rights.

Of real benefit in being on television is that I have been a working journalist, starting on police rounds in 1956 on the old Sydney Sun with that great police rounds man and teacher, Noel Bailey. He taught me to write exactly the number of words required by the editor and showed me how to do it without a script, talking into a telephone, which nowadays for me relates to a microphone. I promise you it's more hard work than iconic.

For me, commentating is wonderful because of the way cricket technology has evolved over the years. Most of all that is to do with the brilliance of the cameras, and those who stand behind them, plus the director who shapes the story. The best at those I have seen anywhere in the television world is Channel Nine's Rob Sheerlock whose voice in my ear, counting down from 10 to zero, is one of the greatest confidence boosts I know.

We, and the players, start the First Test in Brisbane ... and the commentators' line-up is Mark Nicholas (presenter), Ian Chappell, Tony Greig, Mark Taylor, Michael Slater, Ian Healy, Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee. What I can assure you is that every one of us will be nervous as hell. It's always like that, particularly on the first morning of the opening match.

A few things I try to remember run along the lines of 'never ask a statement', 'remember the value of the pause', and there are no teams in the TV world called 'we' or 'they'. Only little things, but I believe they make a difference.

Best advice I've ever received was from Kerry Packer. About ten years ago we had a great summer and Kerry was so pleased that he flew in every commentator from other states for lunch in the Channel Nine boardroom in Sydney. At the table he talked to every commentator and finally he looked across the table at me.

He said, "Andrew Symonds can do just about anything, make runs, take valuable wickets, slide almost into the boundary rope to save runs, get to his feet without touching the ground with his hands and his return to Gilchrist is at flashing speed and over the bails".

"Son ... I don't want you to do that; all I want from you is to put your brain into gear before you open your mouth."