Marvellous: Richie’s widow hails cricket's new home on Fox
FOR many Australians, summer without the dulcet tones of Richie Benaud just isn't the same.
But the late cricketing legend's wife Daphne has given her blessing for the sport's new era on Fox Cricket, which will usher in a new guard of commentators and technology to revolutionise all forms of the game.
Mrs Benaud passed the metaphoric baton - Richie Benaud's lip microphone - to the new channel's superstar hosting team, including Adam Gilchrist, Brett Lee and Shane Warne, at Fox Cricket's VIP launch party, where the grand dame of the game was the night's special guest.
Having lived through the last monumental change to the sport - when the late Kerry Packer started his World Series rebel competition as a programming play for his Nine Network - Mrs Benaud said she was not one to baulk at major advancements like Foxtel's move in the game.
"This is taking over from the older style Channel 9 and 40 years of their cricket but I think this is new and exciting," she told News Corp Australia.
"The new and the old [guard] will blend together brilliantly, I just know."
An avid fan of the cricket since she was 12, Mrs Benaud revealed she is a great supporter of the women's game and applauded Fox Cricket's record signing of 10 female commentators.
"It's fantastic, I think it's really good. I enjoy the women's game and I do watch that and the commentators. Some of them have done sports before but others are new and very good at the interviewing. I think the mix is absolutely terrific."
As a young boarding schoolgirl in England back in the early 1950s, Mrs Benaud revealed she had been keen to try playing the game herself "just to be rebellious".
"But the head mistress came back and said, 'no, you can't play cricket unless you play with a tennis ball and we sort of thought, 'what? A tennis ball? Pfft,' so we never played."
Foxtel CEO Patrick Delaney unveiled the extensive new programming schedule for the dedicated 24-hour cricket channel, which will include 13 cricket-themed entertainment programs - including five pre and post-game shows "ensuring there is something for every fan," he said.
Fox Sport won the rights to all mens Test Matches, One-Day and T20 Internationals played in Australia, as well as every game of the Big Bash League.
Fans of the thrilling women's game will see every Women's international in Australia, the ICC World T20 tournament next month and the 23 games of the WBBL.
Like its comparable programs on Fox League and Fox Footy, Cricket 360 will deliver the biggest cricketing news and analysis each morning across summer, to be hosted by Gerard Whateley and Robert 'Crash' Craddock.
Craddock will also sit down with the biggest names in the game to relive matches and memories on Fox Cricket Classics; while arguably Australia's biggest cricket tragic, Gus Worland, will bring his fandom to an all new series, The Cricket Tragic.
The introduction of 4K technology, which broadcasts images in four times the HD resolution, means "fans will experience cricket like never before," Mr Delaney said.
Mrs Benaud said her late husband would have loved the innovation and anything that engaged a new generation to the game.
"Oh yes, as long as he didn't have to do anything," she chuckled, "he would have been fine. He embraced all the new things … he loved change … anything that would bring kids to the game, whether they had seen it before or not."