Richie Benaud's Greatest XI (2004)

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Released 9-Sep-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Sports Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-A Life In Cricket
Notes-Player Profiles
Notes-Facts And Stats
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 99:03
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (68:46) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Paul Gawith
Studio
Distributor
Fremantle Media
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Richie Benaud
Mark Nicholas
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Johnny Too Bad


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Whether your favourite sport is football, rugby, or cricket, the idea of selecting a greatest team of all time is a difficult and controversial topic that will always find the experts at loggerheads over just who to select. Newspapers are full of experts (usually ex-players) who often list (newspapers like lists) their top teams of all time. Usually the lists cause controversy for the inclusions or the exclusions. Everyone has an opinion on the subject and it's always open to debate, especially when comparing players from different eras.

    This disc is dedicated to selecting a best-ever cricket team from all the players that have ever taken to the field for whatever country. The selector - former Australian captain Richie Benaud. Hence the title Richie Benaud's Greatest XI.

    I think it's fair to say that probably more than anyone alive today Richie Benaud knows his cricket. Captain of the Australian team between 1958 and 1963 (in which time he never lost a test series) and since 1963 a commentator renowned around the world, there isn't much that Richie has not seen or done. As a result it's also fair to say that Richie is probably one of the most qualified people in the world to attempt the difficult task of selecting a world XI - a team of the best cricketers to have ever played the game.

    Together with English commentator Mark Nicholas, Richie selects a team of eleven from a short list of 33 players. He does select a proper team, so rather than just the best 11 getting a cap he does make sure he has two openers, a middle order, an all-rounder, a keeper, a spinner, and a couple of pace bowlers. Prompted by Nicholas, Benaud engages in a sort of one-on-one chat about the merits of each player and then gives his reasons for selecting the players he deems worthy of the final positions in the team. He goes into quite a bit of detail and provides a convincing argument for each player select. As far as an analysis goes - this is detailed and intelligent and certainly worthy of respect.

    There's plenty of footage of each of the players short-listed in action (where it exists - some are from the turn of the last century) and a brief summary of the chosen players' careers. On the shortlist are the likes of Gordon Greenidge, Jack Hobbs, Sunil Gavaskar, Viv Richards, Keith Miller, Gary Sobers, Dennis Lillee, Shane Warne, Ray Lindwall, and of course Sir Donald Bradman. Some really major cricketing moments are also shown featuring these players such as the moment earlier this year when West Indian Brian Lara hit a magnificent 400 not out versus England to claim back the highest individual innings score, and the day in 1968 when Sir Gary Sobers belted six sixes off one over.

    The final 11 contains a few surprises, though there are also a couple of really obvious selections. I won't spoil the fun and reveal just who makes the team.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, the transfer is not 16x9 enhanced. It would appear that the discussion between Richie Benaud and Mark Nicholas was filmed in England sometime during the last six months so as expected the quality is rather good, even if the set design and lighting is rather bland and unflattering. The highlights of the various players naturally consists of black and white film and television broadcast quality throughout ranging from the 1930s onwards.

   While the footage is of mixed vintages, it is all of reasonable quality, though obviously the older the material the more problems that are associated with it.

    The colours are well rendered and there are no problems to contend with.

    No compression artefacts are evident and despite the age of some of the other source material, most of it is in surprisingly good shape. A few instances of low level noise pop up and some of the 1930s era material is covered with artefacts and general grime.

    There are no subtitles on this disc.

    This is a dual layered disc that is RSDL formatted. The layer change occurs at 68:46 and is very well placed.



Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is only one audio track available on this disc, that being an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

    It's a fairly functional two channel soundtrack. Dialogue is clear and concise at all times, though some of the older source material is a little scratchy and contains plenty of distortion and hiss. That's to be expected given the age of some of it. All the modern audio is excellent.

    Apart from a few tunes of varying genre played over the career summary screens of each player selected, there is no music.

    There is no surround or subwoofer use.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu Animation & Audio

Featurette - A Life In Cricket

    Now this is an interesting extra. Running for 18:14, it's basically the life story of Richie Benaud, told by the great man himself. Richie has a lot of stories and talks for the entire duration about his first memories of cricket, the influences of his family (both his father and brother played at a high level), the technicalities of leg spin bowling, and his thoughts on World Series Cricket. I particularly liked listening to his thoughts on the differences between one-day and test cricket and its impact on batting and bowling styles.

Notes

    At the end of each segment of the main programme there is a career summary of each player selected. This extra features the same career summaries and footage for the 22 players that didn't make the final 11, plus the career summary of Richie Benaud.

Notes

    Detailed career statistics, including bowling, batting, and fielding records plus a biographical extract from the cricketing tome Wisden for each of the 33 players on Richie's shortlist.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This disc is available in Region 1 and of course Region 2. Aside from the Region 1 disc being in NTSC format, all are identical to the Region 4 version.

Summary

    Richie Benaud's Greatest XI features the former Australian captain and doyen of the commentary team discussing and selecting his best cricket team possible from the many players that have played over the years. From an initial selection of 33 players Richie discusses each player's merits with English commentator Mark Nicholas, before revealing his best ever eleven. While most of the team virtually picks itself, Richie still manages a couple of surprises.

    The video and audio quality are more than adequate for the job required.

    The extras are quite interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Friday, September 10, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5106DO, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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