Radio Sandwell Sport

Australia cricket legend and commentator Richie Benaud dies aged 84

2015-04-10 09:18:35

Richie Benaud

Former Australia captain and legendary cricket commentator Richie Benaud has died at the age of 84.

A pioneering leg-spin bowler, Benaud played in 63 Tests, 28 as captain, before retiring in 1964 to pursue a career in journalism and broadcasting.

His final commentary in England came during the 2005 Ashes series but he continued to work for Channel Nine in Australia until 2013.

In November, he revealed he was being treated for skin cancer.

Benaud took 945 wickets in 259 first-class matches and made 11,719 first-class runs, scoring 23 centuries at an average of 36.50.

The world has been paying tribute to Benaud, with Australia's record wicket-taker Shane Warne making a particularly heartfelt contribution. 

Cricket Australia chairman Wally Edwards said Benaud was "the iconic voice of our summer", while the Australian government has offered to hold a state funeral.

Richie BenaudThe Australia government has offered to hold a state funeral for Richie Benaud

Former Australia bowler Warne said: "Dear Richie, you were a legend on all levels and rightly so too. As a cricketer, commentator and as a person, you were the best there's ever been and to top it off, an absolute gentleman."

Sri Lanka wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara  added: "So sad to hear about the passing of Richie Benaud. The great voice of cricket is no more. He defined an era with conviction and sincerity."

England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke said cricket had "lost perhaps its greatest advocate and someone who was a true giant of the modern game".

Australia Prime Minister Tony Abbott  said Benaud's passing was "a sad day for Australia", adding: "We have lost a cricketing champion and Australian icon. What an innings. RIP Richie Benaud."

Former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott  said: "Farewell Richie Benaud. Wonderful cricketer, great captain, a master craftsman commentator and top man. Will always be remembered and admired."

Benaud was the first man to achieve 2,000 runs and 200 wickets at Test level.

He was also a highly regarded tactician and never lost a Test series as Australia captain, winning five and drawing two.

After such an impressive playing career, he became even better known as a prolific author, columnist and commentator on cricket.

Richie BenaudRichie Benaud's appearance was affectionately parodied at Australian grounds

After the 1956 Ashes tour in England, he completed a BBC training course while still a player, marking the beginning of a 40-year association with the corporation.

His first BBC radio commentary came in 1960, followed by his first television appearance three years later.

With his mellifluous, light delivery, enthusiastically imitated by comedians and cricket fans alike, Benaud also became the lead commentator on Australian television's Channel Nine from 1977.

At the age of 83, he crushed two vertebrae when his 1963 Sunbeam vintage sports car hit a brick wall near his home in Coogee, Sydney.

Benaud often spoke of a return to commentary but, to the great sadness of his legions of admirers, it did not materialise.

Benaud, who was appointed OBE in 1961 for services to cricket, leaves a wife of 48 years, Daphne, and two children from his first marriage.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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