Billy Birmingham The 12th Man Cricket Commentary Impersonator

the 12th man billy birmingham

In October 2009 I was shocked to hear that Billy Birmingham aka The 12th Man was finally retiring from the game bringing his remarkable innings to a close. Sad news for his many fans, old and new 🙁

To mark the occasion he’s releasing a definitive “The Box Set” complete works of The 12th Man in a 7 CD pack. It’s your chance to own a piece of Australian recording history because I can guarantee we will never see his like again.

If you, your friends or family enjoy watching cricket on the TV you’ll be quite familiar with the Channel 9 commentary team and Billy Birmingham aka “The 12th Man” who has impersonated their voices and savagely mocked and exaggerated their mannerisms in The 12th Man Again! (1990), Still the 12th Man (1992), Bill Lawry… This is Your Life (1997), The Final Dig? (2001) and his latest work Boned! (December 2006).

The Twelfth Man is the name for a series of comedy productions by Australian satirist Billy Birmingham. Birmingham, a skilled impersonator, is generally known for parodying Australian sports commentators’ voices.

As befits the name (a reference to the non-playing reserve in a cricket side), Birmingham particularly focuses on cricket commentators such as Richie Benaud, Bill Lawry and Tony Greig. This is also due to the fact that many of Australia’s cricket commentators have distinctive and easily-identifiable voices and accents.

The parodies, released periodically on CD, are designed as a look “behind the scenes” of the Nine Network’s cricket commentary.

Birmingham traditionally plays all the roles with the exception of minor female characters, such as Richie Benaud’s wife. Benaud himself is known to have a very low opinion of the recordings, due predominantly to Birmingham’s use of profanity.

A highlight of the recordings is the cricket commentary itself, generally featuring wildly improbable match results – teams scoring 600 runs in a one-day international match, for example. Birmingham is noted for his creation of humorous names for players of other countries, particularly Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Some are designed as thinly-veiled references to the players themselves, such as the Pakistani bowlers:

  • “Wasee A-Crim” (Was He A Crim, a reference to Wasim Akram during the match-fixing controversy)
  • “Hafeez Andmissin” (Half His Hand Missing, a parody of Azeem Hafeez who was born without two fingers on his right hand)
  • “Ahkeep Myteefina Jahbesidabed” (I Keep My Teeth In A Jar Beside The Bed, a reference to Aaqib Javed)
  • Their captain “Ahbroke Meandad” (I Broke My Hand Dad, a reference to Javed Miandad
  • “Javed Gemiteformeandad” – Jar Vegemite for me and dad

As well as the Sri Lankan batsman “Ramatunga Downathroata” (a reference to former Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga). Others simply parody the general sound of Urdu or Sinhalese names.

An Australian Christmas and The 12th Man have gone hand in hand now for over 20 years and The 12th Man’s cricket loving fans have not had anything new from him since his multi Platinum No 1 “The Final Dig?” where Ritchie announced his retirement from the commentary team captaincy and then retracted it after he learnt he’d be replaced by Max Walker

So the release of a new double album had fans salivating with anticipation – especially when they learnt that the new album was titled “Boned” and contains over 150 minutes of 12th Man mayhem.

The 2 cd Set features Eddie McGuire ‘boning’ the entire Channel 9 Cricket Commentary team with The 12th Man taking over the microphone. Listen as Richie, Bill, Tony and the boys do whatever it takes to get their jobs back.

All 7 albums from The 12th Man have reached #1 on the Australian Charts, making The 12th Man the only Australian recording artist to have achieved this milestone.

Readers can purchase 12th Man Cd’s from Chaos Music at bargain prices and enjoy guaranteed laughs whether you buy them for yourself or for others as a gift

Please note: Several people have contacted me with questions for Billy – I have no contact with him. I am just a fan like you and this page is a review of some of his best work

41 thoughts on “Billy Birmingham The 12th Man Cricket Commentary Impersonator”

  1. Boned is absolutely hillarious. A bit rude but it’s very funny.

    EDITOR: Thats a good point, there are always a few swear words etc in 12th man CD’s so i wouldn’t recommend it to people who get offended by swearing

  2. I just finished listening to my own copy of Boned and while it is great in some parts, I don’t think it’s quite upto the same standard as previous 12th Man albums

    He does these voices well: Alan Jones, John Howard, Ray Warren, Tony Greig, Bill Laurie, Ritchie Benaud.

    But these voices are pretty bad: Mark Nicholas, Eddie Maguire, other junior members of the commentary team.

  3. I have recently purchased myself a copy of boned and it is terrific stuff, a tremendous listen really.
    I will catch you later at home Billy, err I mean I will catch you on tour some time.
    Now could you please be quiet as I have a very important album to listen to again.

  4. The only reason that Billy is not quite so terrific at Eddy’s name and some of the other smaller part voices is because they are not distinctive at all, the voice of Eddy sounds like a mono-syllabic whine at the best of times any way in real life.

  5. This is a pisser of a cd. A funny story line and some great new material. Although it does sound quite rushed with the voices new and old lacking somewhat, and there appears to be much more swearing. All in all a great listen… ***/*****

  6. Marvellous Effort That ! Yes I agree that he could have spent a bit more time polishing his efforts. However it is still a great laugh and I have it playing in my office to keep me smiling. I don’t think he was trying to get Mark Nicholas’ voice absolutely perfect. I think he was more interested in portraying him as some sort of self manufactured sex symbol….a bit of an Austin Powers off-shoot.

    Anyway I reckon it’s great value and very funny in most parts.

  7. Anyone who understands to constant talk about reverse swing and the sub-dialogue of warney with the mobile at slip sending texts messages to bill, how some names relate to their job title….the curator Doug Deep (dug deep), billy “hey look at me” bowden, umpire Morgan Freeman (steve bucknor) the absolutely ridiculous scorelines and such ease of scoring shots from the australian players. its absolutely brilliant, my entire cricket club sit and listen to it after training. not to mention gooch goin to bat with no shoes after playing beach cricket, the barmy army playing and drinking a coldy while playing. the sub dialogue is just as funny as its ever been. YES GOT’IM, GONE, FAINT EDGE!!!! And Strauss just lets that one go through to the Keepa!. Love ya work billy! and thats the “positive comment” left here, otherwise known as the reverse negative comment.

  8. Dear Billy,
    First let me say thanks for the hours of fun you have bought alot of people in NZ with your 12th man recordings.Have you ever thought of a Best of 12th Man CD which would feature various tracks from all your albums so that those highlights can be accessed at will, with tracks like the cricket report from India (slash outside the off stump),the soccer commentary,praciticing the Sri Lankan team names, right through to the current Kiwi Rugby League side. It would make great listening and I for one would be straight down the CD store.My band recorded for EMI and our Best of CD has been selling steadily for the 5 years since its’ release. Maybe you have already done one. Thanks for the laughs.

    Dave Luther

  9. Billy Birmingham is the bomb. Who would’ve thought that after 20 years, these albums would still be going to number 1. Marvellous stuff that.

    I absolutely love the sub-continent names of Heeza Hasbeen, Hafeez Andmissin and Ahbroke Meandad, not to mention Richie Benaud swearing. But my favourite moments would have to be from the “Wired World of Sports” with Mike Gibson and Ian Chappell…

    “We’ll be back here at the MCG, in just a few moments.”

    Thanks for the laughs Billy.

  10. am trying to find the original version of MARVELLOUS. Can anyone help me. Is there a single or something out there.

    Ta, Chris.

    EDITOR: I don’t know, but everything he’s released since the mid 1980’s was through EMI, so I’d call EMI Australia and try and find out from them.

    EMI Music Australia
    98 – 100 Glover Street
    PO Box 311
    Cremorne
    NSW 2090

    Phone: (02) 9908 0777
    Fax: (02) 9908 0666

  11. All you twelfth man fans looking to buy any of his recording will be pleased to know you can now get them from iTunes. The new album is very funny, downloaded it yesterday and a few “best of’s” from the older albums. I’ve been looking for these for ages and I think the addition of these to the iTunes catalogue must be a new thing (in the UK at least)

  12. I have bought Sill the 12th man where max walker tries to get his job back and is sooo funny I’ve heard 10 times! and it has the original mavellous

    EDITOR: thanks for clearing that up Paul

  13. I looking for a copy of Billy Lawry this your Life and 12th man agin is there a shop in Gympie or Brisbane or Queensland?

  14. I had the honor of spending an entire month in your great country, and the best thing i brought home with me was the game of Cricket, and the 12th Man. I own all the discs now, and nothing makes a shit day anymore “Marvelous!!”

  15. Got the entire 12th man series from an Assie friend and have been pissing myself laughing ever since 🙂

    The highlight is Bill Lawry when merv scores his hatrick “yeah, it’s great day for cricket, it’s a great day for Victoria….”

    HIGHLY RATED !!!

  16. billy i hav heard all de 12th man albums love your work funny shit keep em comin mate fu#kin ledgend

  17. Billy – have been listening to the 12th Man for over 20 years and really enjoy the banter.

    How about something along the lines of “Arise Sir Richie” just think of all the people you could take the piss out of.

    All the best
    Al Rutherford

  18. I’ve loved all the 12th Man’s Cd’s – Billy Birmingham is a genius – the last one, “Boned’ is brilliant as always, I particularly like his ‘Groovy Baby’ attitude of Mark Nicholas – who obviously is being groomed to replace Richie – life imitating art for sure – The 12th man was years ahead when he did it in ‘The Final Dig’

    Hope there’s going to be more 12th Man Albums –

  19. Bill Lawry, this is your life cd. The part where is the telephone gods are with them and Mike Munro aka Bill Birmingam, Bill Lawry aka Billy Birmingham and Peter Pollock aka Billy Birmingham attempt to have a conversation and that international time lag with all 3 guys talking over each had me in absolute stitchers.

  20. I’m trying to get a copy of i think it was the first album Wired World Of Sports Billy Birmingham 12th Man where Billy is wearing cricket pads and a Hawthorn jumper in front of a background similar to the channel 9 logo on the front cover.

    Robbie G
    Kingsgrove Sydney

  21. Marvellous Effort That ! Yes I agree that he could have spent a bit more time polishing his efforts. However it is still a great laugh and I have it playing in my office to keep me smiling. I don’t think he was trying to get Mark Nicholas’ voice absolutely perfect. I think he was more interested in portraying him as some sort of self manufactured sex symbol….a bit of an Austin Powers off-shoot.

  22. All you twelfth man fans looking to buy any of his recording will be pleased to know you can now get them from iTunes. The new album is very funny, downloaded it yesterday and a few “best of’s” from the older albums. I’ve been looking for these for ages and I think the addition of these to the iTunes catalogue must be a new thing

  23. Does anyone know which album has Richie in the loo? I have been asked to get this album for a rel in the UK, but not sure which one it is or if it is still available.

  24. There can never be too many 12th Man albums. Billy, you can’t retire until Richie Benaud does,so get back to work. When Richie retires in 3 years, then just maybe you can retire the 12th Man in 2020. William

  25. Really enjoyed the original one day commentary take off ageless stuff is this in the boxed set does anyone know

  26. Wanting to contact Billy Birmingham via e-mail or phone or letter.Can anyone help me?

    Thanks

  27. hey yea i’d also like to contact Billy Birmingham about an idea for n album.. Something on the lines of Richie goes for prime minister n johnny howard is taking over the icc so max walker comes back and captain of the commentry team lol

  28. I remember listening to the 12th man cds in the car on the way to cricket matches. They were just sublime. Tony Greig still talks about the “little” Sri Lankans to this day.

  29. Can you tell me how Billy puts the recordings together, I had heard many moons ago, that he recorded each voice separately, Ie: He would record all the bill Lawry parts, then start again and record all the Richie Then tony and so on and so on, Or does he hit record and then do all the voices as I conversation across 1 recording. Hope some one knows the answer.

    Cheers
    River

  30. You can hear Billy doing live voices of Ritchie and others on 2GB.com click on “weekend detention”
    from 12- 3pm on saturday and sunday

  31. I am in friendly dispute re the name of Bill Lawry’s pigeon; Is it “Stralia” or is it “Wendy” Please HELP. Love the CD’s.

  32. @ken R yeah bills bird is wendy, wendy jr and wendy jr jr. Stralia is a bird bill looked after when it was hit by a ball

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