Known for his impeccable knowledge of cricket, and an aggressive, daring Test captain for Australia, Richie Benaud was a well respected and admired Australian icon.
But, like anyone, there were aspects to this legendary commentator’s life than many may have not known.
Business Insider has dug through the archives to bring them to you. Vale, Richie.
He was born in Penrith, in Sydney’s west, and his dad was a handy bowler.
Benaud was born in Penrith on October 6, 1930, and despite being named Richard always went by the name Richie. His father – the driving force in supporting Benaud to pursue cricket – was a pretty handy leggie himself, once taking all 20 wickets in a Sydney grade match.
He loved his vegies, he loved his mum.
Benaud’s mother Irene died in 2008 at the age 104. She had also been a great supporter of Richie and his younger brother John throughout their cricket careers (John also played Test cricket for Australia). Benaud remembers fondly that she improved his love of vegetables by introducing the phrase: “You can’t go out and play cricket until you have eaten all your vegetables.”
At first he wasn’t allowed to bowl leg spin when he was younger because his hands were too small.
His father Lou, would not let Benaud bowl leg spin until he was 17 because he didn’t think Richie’s hands were big enough. Instead he was made to focus on line and length. Despite this, Benaud went on to become a world-class leggie.
He’s been injured plenty of times, including a cracked skull.
While batting for NSW Second XI in Melbourne at the age of 18, Benaud was struck in the head above the right eye by a ball. He was sidelined for a year.
His career disappointment was never being able to play with “The Don”.
Benaud began his cricketing career just months after Bradman retired in 1948, so he never had the opportunity to play with the legend. “That’s something I’ve always had to live with,” he said, “But I had seen him play and he was – I’m assured by everyone that played with and against him – easily the best.”
He considers Sachin Tendulkar to be the best living cricket player.
“When I look at the modern day players.. my view is that the best player I have ever seen is Tendulkar. Not by much from Brian Lara… so there a lot of other players just a little bit below that level, but to choose one, it would be Tendulkar,” he said during a commentary cross on Channel Nine.
His iconic cream suit jacket was a fashion tip from Kerry Packer.
His trademark cream jacket, was an idea proposed by Kerry Packer. He suggested the look would differentiate Benaud from the rest of the commentary team.
He has his own emoji – well, sort of.
British public-service television broadcaster Channel 4 worked with Benaud to create a web program called Desktop Richie. Once fans had downloaded the software they were treated to live Test match updates using real voice samples such as “Got ‘im!” and “That’s stumps… and time for a glass of something chilled” delivered by a cartoon Benaud.
He was almost a Logie winner.
In 1999, Benaud was recognised for his outstanding sports broadcasting by being nominated for a Logie. He was pipped at the post by Bruce McAvaney.
He is quite the actor, appearing in a We Love Lamb ad recently.
Benaud, along with iconic Australian figures like Captain Cook and Ned Kelly, appeared recently in the ultimate Australia Day ad, prompting lamb. It’s actually great. See it below.
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