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Wasim Akram

Sultan: A memoir by Wasim Akram, with Gideon Haigh

May 2023, no. 453

Sharply observed mimicry of sporting commentary is a niche comic form, but from the late 1980s, Australian comedian Billy Birmingham took it to chart-topping ubiquity with a series of recordings that gathered his small legion of impersonations under the sobriquet The Twelfth Man. Most famous were his recreations of a goonish Nine Wide World of Sports team from that golden age of television cricket commentary in which an ecru/ivory/white/cream-blazered Richie Benaud led the likes of Bill Lawry, Tony Greig, Ian Chappell, and Max Walker. Birmingham had the vocal measure of all of them, to genuinely hilarious effect.

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