Ex-players turned sports commentator – the best of the best.

Now that I am back in Bris Vegas, after the incredible journey back from the Canadian Northern Arctic, it’s good to be finally back with family and friends.


Listening to “Corbin and Ben” talking on the ABC on a Saturday early evening (which has been great) got me thinking about Richie Benaud and what made him the consummate professional in the world of sports commentary.


These were his eight golden rules for commentary:


1 Never ask a statement.

2 Remember the value of a pause.

3 There are no teams in the world called “we” or “they”.

4 Avoid clichés and banalities such as “he’s hit it to the boundary”, “he won’t want to get out now”, “of course”, “as you can see on the screen”

5 The Titanic sinking was a tragedy and the Ethiopian drought a disaster and neither bears any relation to a dropped catch.

6 Put your brain in gear before opening your mouth.

7 Concentrate fiercely at all times.

8 Above all don’t take yourself too seriously and have fun.



I loved how he took time, was fantastic with every word and pause.

I was listening to the great Ricky Ponting talking to Corbin and Ben about commentating; it was really interesting and compelling listening for any sports fan.

It got me thinking as to who I thought were the best ex-players to turn to media commentary.

So here goes…here are some of my favourites (from only a limited range of sports).





Allan McGilvray – absolute legend of my childhood and teen years (with great colour commentators like Norman O’Neill) dry and droll yet on the money!!


Max Walker – his humour.


Lindsay Hassett – of the old days.


Adam Gilchrist.


Kerry O’Keeffe.


Ricky Ponting.


Aggers – just brilliant.


Mel Farrell – fantastic interviews and colour behind the game.



Aussie Rules


Lou Richards.


Mike Williamson (not sure if he was a player) with Lou, a great duo of my childhood and high school years.


Doug Bigelow – sensational voice.


Kevin Bartlett – love his enthusiasm.


Dennis Cometti – just centimetre perfect!


Daisy Pearce – absolutely nails it every time.



Rugby League



Peter Sterling – the best by a country mile as far as understanding the game its tactics, yet doesn’t take himself too seriously.


John “Bomber” Peard – laconic…but what he said stuck!


Reg Gasnier – a great foil to the great Alan Marks during the ’70s and ’80s.



American Football



Tony Romo & Phil Simms – both knew what was going to happen before every play.


Merlin Olsen – a great foil to Dick Enberg.


Pat Summerall – a kicker who had a dry sense of humour and yet was able to reel the viewer in.


Al Michaels – consummate professional.



So, its over to you Almanackers: who’s your best ex-player commentator and why?




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About Richard Marlow

a humble middle-years teacher in a “middle of the road” private school in Brisbane having being a pastor, a youth worker, a school chaplain, a bank johnnie – 3 different banks, worked in Jails, driven a cab and been in bands amongst other things.


  1. Luke Reynolds says

    Isa Guha and Ian Smith both had excellent playing careers and in my opinion are the best two TV callers in world cricket right now. Smith’s call of the World Cup final last year was exceptional. Ian Bishop another player turned excellent commentator.

  2. Kieran Dempsey says

    Trevor Allan was my favorite Rugby commentator. He had had an amazing career as a player, captain of the Wallabies and few years playing League, but I cant remember him mentioning any of that.
    His main handicap was that he had to provide insight into a match alongside Norman May. As kids we used to roll around in laughter at Norman’s excited call of the match. “…he’s attempting a field goal, no – an up and under, … he’s kicked it into touch.’

  3. Richie Benaud.
    Also don’t mind Michael Holding.
    And I agree with Luke – Isa Guha is fabulous, Ian Smith is very good.

  4. grapevine says

    Also love listening to Mike Haisman and Pommy Mbangwa (for his name alone!)

  5. Stainless says

    I always thought Doug Heywood (VFL in the 70s and 80s) was excellent.

  6. Kevin Densley says

    Great piece, Richard. I love it when Aggers and Skull are doing the cricket commentary together – it’s like they are speaking two different languages. And they are! As far as AFL commentators go, it’s Dennis Cometti for me – a voice as rich and smooth as caramel, and extremely witty to boot; for example, “It’s like finding fault with Miss Venezuela.”

  7. Excellent reflections Richard. Agree Pat Summerall was peerless with his stentorian voice and sense of theatre similar to Richie Benaud in that he was a minimalist who knew the value of silence. While Al Michaels is great I don’t reckon he had a playing career of any note. In terms of knowing what would happen before it did Dermie has had a few Doris Stokes moments.

  8. Mickey you’re right not sure about Al Michaels
    Does anyone know about Mike Williamson if he played Footy?


  9. DBalassone says

    Richie for me as well, for obvious reasons. Also rate Henry Blofeld very highly – if you can include first-class cricketers.

    Hard to go pass Dennis Cometti for Aussie Rules. Lou Richards (with Peter Landy) for excitement. Also loved their B team of Skilton (with Sandy Roberts), and even their C team of Peter McKenna and Jack Edwards.

    Due to Covid, I’ve been watching a lot of old footy clips of late, and one thing that struck me as strange was how highly channel 7 rated Ian Robertson. I just don’t get it.

  10. Rod Oaten says

    Roy and HG calling AFL and ARL Grand Finals.

  11. Liam Hauser says

    Michael Holding, Ian Smith and David Gower have been among my favourite cricket commentators.

  12. Goodness Stainless; Doug Heywood !? There’s a blast from the past. He was always poised, concise with his commentary, reflecting his years involved with the game.

    The one i like is Brendan Julian on Fox Cricket. similar to Doug Heywood in the context he’s poised and concise. No hyperbole, no outbursts of great enthusiasm, he sticks to the point. I watched/heard him speak about the ICC’s plans with umpires for international cricket post Covid 19. He was insightful, put his point well, with no need for overkill.

    Richard, Mike Williamson did not play VFL football. He’d been afoot runner: of some notoriety? As a commentator he was the master of the overstatement.


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