Richie Benaud, popularly known as the “voice of cricket” has died at the age of 84. The legendary cricketer-turned-commentator was battling skin cancer.
Benaud was renowned for being one of the best all-round cricketers displaying skills in lower order batting and leg spin bowling. In first-class cricket, he amassed 945 wickets and scored over 11,000 runs at an average of 39.50.
The former Australian cricketer and captain retired in 1964 after a successful international career thereby focussing on broadcasting and journalism. The last time Benaud was heard commentating was during the 2005 Ashes series.
When it came to cricket commentary, many individuals in the commentary box looked up to him for not only the fashion in which he delivered updates, but also his witty puns. One of his popular witticisms included Glenn McGrath, when the Australian tail ender got out for two runs, “And Glenn McGrath dismissed for two, just ninety-eight runs short of his century”.
The news of Richie’s death led to tributes flooding on different social media platforms. He had an inspiring career and was glorious when it came to mic skills.
The story of Benaud becoming a true Test cricketer begins in Australia’s 1957 tour of South Africa. The following year, he was handed the team’s reins, which was a massive achievement in his personal career.
Richie Benaud was also responsible for Australian cricket team opening its arms to the media, which was not a common practice before he became the captain.
The person who was responsible for teaching leg spin to Benaud was his father. Richie went on to master the art of traditional leg spin bowling and added other weapons like the flipper, googly and top spinner to his arsenal.
Since making his international debut for Australia in 1952, Benaud was part of 63 Test matches (28 of which he captained). As captain, he won five out of the seven Test series taking Australia to the top of world cricket in the process.
The former Australian cricketer was also a hit among the local cricket followers. On numerous instances, the fans parodied his look in the stands wearing a white wig, posh suit and a microphoneRichie Benaud was part of the Channel Nine commentary team that included legends such as Tony Grieg, Ian Chappell and Mark Taylor.
In 1961, Richie was offered the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his contributions towards the game of cricket. He is survived by his wife of 48 years and two children.