Richie's spin wrong for Aussie lamb

They should have looked for somebody younger and still capable of ripping into a chop or two

MEAT and Livestock Australia's (MLA) decision to use Richie Benaud to promote lamb consumption on Australia Day would have made sense if the year was 1961 and not 2015.

Back in 1961 Benaud was the most admired and flamboyant figure in world cricket, whose aggressive captaincy helped drag Test cricket from tedium to excitement.

His daring, charismatic leadership during the unforgettable 1960-61 Test series against the visiting West Indians, captained by the equally bold Frank Worrell, elevated Benaud into Australia's sporting pantheon.

Australia won the series 2–1 but the result hardly mattered after a summer of high excitement and controversy which started with Test cricket's first tie in Brisbane.

Benaud's aggressive approach to captaincy, as well as his leg-spin bowling and lower-order batting, set the benchmark for every Australian skipper who has followed in his footsteps, just as his commentary style has set the gold standard for every television broadcaster covering cricket.

While Benaud remains a much-loved Australian living treasure, he is now a feeble 84-year-old battling skin cancer and the lingering effects of an accident in his beloved 1963 Sunbeam Alpine car in October, 2013.

If MLA wanted a high-profile cricketer to promote lamb barbecues this summer they should have looked for somebody younger and still capable of ripping into a chop or two.

The photogenic Ellyse Perry, the youngest person, male or female, to represent Australia in Test cricket, or Brad Haddin, the likeable Australian wicket keeper who has farming connections to the Cowra district, could have been among the candidates.

The other issue is whether MLA's Australia Day lamb promotions, which have gained national notoriety in recent years through the satirical advertisements fronted by loud-mouth media personality and former Aussie Rules player, Sam Kekovich, actually add any extra money to producers' pockets.

As with a lot of this kind of grower-funded generic advertising, the most benefit probably flows to meat retailers including the likes of Coles and Woolworths.

Another moot point is whether a young Richie Benaud would have agreed to promote lamb chops back in 1961.

Chops were generally very big and very fatty back in those days, and a dapper young Benaud trying to wrap his fangs around one might not have projected quite the image he would have wanted.

And, anyway, today's lamb chops are so good they don't need much promotion.

Vernon Graham

Vernon Graham

is the group editor of Fairfax Agricultural Media
Date: Newest first | Oldest first


8/01/2015 8:43:53 AM

I agree 100% with the writer. No offence to Richie but he does look very frail these days and certainly doesn't look capable of eating 2 small chops. Someone with a profile to attract the younger age group would be more appropriate.
9/01/2015 1:24:03 PM

I've got a son in his 20's...he and his mates love it...and they don't even particularly like cricket. Its about the Icon...not the cricket player! I would fully expect MLA to have done its market research !
9/01/2015 5:26:06 PM

Totally agree with Hydatid. It's not about looking good to the eye it's about the Aussie icons portrayed in the ad. Without Richie as lead this would not have been effective. (The mobile phone coverage in this ad is outstanding. Middle of OZ to somewhere at sea).
A matter of opinionA selection of editorials from around the Fairfax Agricultural Media group covering the issues of the week.


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