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My Spin on Cricket by Richie Benaud

Release date: 12th September, 2005
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

List Price: £18.99
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Richie Benaud: My Spin On Cricket
By Richie Benaud
Hodder & Stoughton price: £11.39 (saving £7.60 on published price)

Richie Benaud's well-informed dulcet tones, an integral part of international cricket's rich soundtrack for the past forty two years will, sadly, be retired from commentary when the current Ashes test match ends.

The final showdown between England and Australia in what has been a scintillating series will also be the last time that Benaud will cast his genuinely expert eye over proceedings for the benefit of television viewers. For over four decades, he has woven his inimitable style into the nation's sporting fabric, becoming cricket's favourite uncle, always ready with a pithy comment, an amusing anecdote or dazzlingly accurate analysis.
Those same features which have endeared him to television audiences across the globe are evident in his latest book, 'My Spin On Cricket', essentially a collection of anecdotes via which he charts cricket's wonderful story, alternating readily between events in the modern game and those of times past. The result of uncle Richie's meanderings is a marvellously engaging book through which the reader can constantly hear his asides and listen to any number of prodigious tales.
In this respect, it compares favourably with two of his earlier titles, The Appeal of Cricket (1996) and his outstanding Anything but an Autobiography (1998), which Wisden described as being "about five hundred times more intelligent than most cricketing memoirs."
On screen, RB has built an enviable reputation for letting the pictures do the talking, an attribute perfectly illustrated in the final tense overs of the last Test at Trent Bridge. Here, it is evident that throughout his career, both as Australia's captain (he captained the side in 28 Tests) and as that nation's most mimicked commentator, his lifestyle reflects a willingness to remove clutter: to live comfortably and operate sensibly, but without fuss.
Such an attitude is constantly illustrated throughout this book, perhaps most tellingly when it comes to passing on advice to would-be spin bowlers. Instead of sending correspondents advice which "could be extended to 150 pages", Benaud prefers to send two pages comprising a brief and uncomplicated procedure for spin bowling; any more, he says, "would be pointless [because] the youngsterÖwanting to learn to be a leg-spinner would be wasting a couple of hours valuable practice time."
On other aspects of cricket, he is more forthcoming, such as when he describes the origin of the verb 'sledge', which occurred in November 1967 and involved an Australian player called Graham Corling, a waitress, some expletives and a song entitled 'When a Man Loves a Woman'. Where a more detailed explanation is required, Benaud is delighted to assist; indeed, this particular anecdote leads Richie off on an amusing half dozen page aside in which he recounts some of the funniest comments ever heard on a cricket pitch.
The same is true when he reveals some of he goings-on behind the camera, several of which invariably involve Brian Johnston, whose meticulous preparation, even for a practical joke played on Jonathan Agnew, draws praise from Richie.
He ends with a marvellously thought-provoking Pot Pourri, questioning the need for teams to have a 'master-polisher' of the cricket ball and provides an interesting statistic on no-balls in Test cricket. Practical as ever, he is also full of praise for Twenty/20 cricket.
Richie Benaud's insight, humour and, let's face it, cricketing wisdom will be sorely missed once this final Test match has ended; if you want to 'keep listening', however, buy this book.

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