Tim Bresnan dismissed by Mitchell Johnson. Click for more photos

England vs Australia: Day 2 of the Ashes

Tim Bresnan dismissed by Mitchell Johnson. Photo: Pat Scala

Kerry O'Keeffe has announced he is retiring from cricket commentary after 13 years with the ABC.

An emotional O'Keeffe said on Friday the fifth Ashes Test in Sydney, starting next Friday, would be his last behind the microphone after what he described as a "life changing" broadcasting career.

"I didn't have a bean when I started," the 64-year-old said. "I was virtually unemployed. I'd just drifted, doing casual jobs...but my life changed, and suddenly I was making money. A lot of things sprung from it. I wrote three books that sold and my speaking (engagements). I've been able to secure my family."

Former Australian Test cricketer Kerry O'Keeffe is retiring from the commentary box.

Former Australian Test cricketer Kerry O'Keeffe is retiring from the commentary box. Photo: Angela Milne

O'Keeffe's quick-wittedness and his distinctive laugh have made him an institution on the airwaves since he signed up with the public broadcaster. He announced his impending retirement during the afternoon call of the second day of the fourth Test.  

"I've had a great run...13 summers of ABC Grandstand Test cricket. I'm just getting older and I discussed it with my wife and it's time to ride off into the sunset," he said.

"It's an emotional time for me because I love Test cricket but I thought I was just starting to lose my edge a bit and I thought 'now is the time'."

The former Australian spin bowler, who played 24 Tests between 1971 and 1977, made an initial foray into broadcasting on television. However, he found a home on radio when listeners connected with his unique style. 

"I tried being this biomechanical expert and analyst and I did some part-time work with Channel Nine and it didn't work so I thought I'd just be me and take a quirky look at the game," O'Keeffe said. 

''I knew it was not the way ABC covered their cricket, they were more staid, and had it been in the (Alan) McGilvray era I wouldn't have lasted  half a day. But times were changing and people warmed to it.

"Radio was my medium because I could time things. It just suited me and cricket suited me because I loved the game and I loved analysing it. I put work into it every year preparing and it has been 13 great summers."

Veteran ABC commentator Jim Maxwell paid tribute to O'Keeffe on Friday."I don't think any summariser the ABC has employed has had as great an impact on the audience as Kerry," Maxwell said. "I think he's drawn more people to listen and follow the game than anyone else that's ever worked on the ABC.

"He can tell stories, he can talk about the game and he's got an extraordinary gift for observational humour. He just brings something to the game that's unique and it will be missed enormously."