Australian cricketing legend and iconic commentator Richie Benaud has died aged 84.
Benaud had been receiving radiation treatment for skin cancer in a Sydney hospice since November. He died peacefully in his sleep.
Benaud was born in the western Sydney suburb of Penrith in 1930. He came from a cricketing family. His father Louis was a Grade Cricket leg spinner. His family later moved to Parramatta where he attended high school and made his first grade debut as a batsman for Cumberland at age 16.
In 1948, at the age of 18, Benaud was selected for the New South Wales Colts youth team. He made his first class debut at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) during the New Year’s game of the 1948-49 season, scoring just two runs.
Benaud played 64 tests for Australia between 1953 and 1964, including 28 as captain, winning 12, drawing 11, losing four and most notably, being in charge during the famous tied test with the West Indies in December 1960 in Brisbane.
He was an all-rounder whose highest test score was 122 against South Africa in Johannesburg, while his career best as a spin bowler was 7-72 against India in Madras.
In 1963 be became the first player to reach both 200 wickets and 2000 runs, ending his test career with a then-record 2291 runs and 248 wickets. He remains in the elite top 10 of Australian players with more than 10,000 runs and 500 wickets in first class cricket.
The former national captain, spin bowler and Test cricket all-rounder helped bring about Australia’s return to form during the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Benaud retired from international cricket in 1964 but went on to become Australia’s most revered cricket commentator.
His second career began while he was still playing, having stayed behind in England in 1960 to work as a radio commentator for the BBC. After his retirement he became a commentator full time, making the switch to cricket where his signature style of light-coloured jackets – most notably pink – with his tanned face and silver sweep of hair made him seem like the wise uncle of the sport.
Benaud’s droll observations were the calm in the Channel Nine commentary box alongside the excitable Bill Lawry, but his mind revealed someone who thought like a chess grand-master, his insights into the game were a masterclass for everyone watching the game.
His style became famous, much loved and parodied by comic Billy Birmingham on his Twelfth man series.
His comment following he loss of his month Irene, aged 104, in 2008, summed up Benaud’s wry humour, when he said “She improved my love of vegetables by introducing the phrase, ‘You can’t go out and play cricket until you have eaten all your vegetables’.”
Benaud was given an OBE for services to cricket in 1961.
A car accident in 2013 near his home in the Sydney beach side suburb of Coogee resulted in a broken sternum, ending his 50-year commentary career.
There has been an outpouring of grief and remembrance from fellow cricketers and members of the public for Benaud and his family on social media.
Very sad news about Ritchie Benaud. A legend of Australian cricket & the commentary box. We've lost a true Aussie icon RIP Ritchie
— Glenn McGrath (@glennmcgrath11) April 9, 2015
A sad day for Australia. We have lost a cricketing champion and Australian icon. What an innings. RIP Richie Benaud
— Tony Abbott (@TonyAbbottMHR) April 9, 2015
— Brett Lee (@BrettLee_58) April 9, 2015
— Peter Siddle (@petersiddle403) April 9, 2015
Australia has lost a legend of cricket & the voice of our summers – sad day for our country. Farewell & rest in peace Richie Benaud.
— Bill Shorten (@billshortenmp) April 9, 2015
Dear Richie, I've known you & Daphne for close to 30 years & to everyone you were a legend on all levels & rightly so too. As a cricketer, commentator & as a person, you were the best there's ever been & to top it off, an absolute gentleman… For me it was an honour & a privilege to call you a close friend & mentor, we had so many wonderful times together, talking cricket & in particular, our love & passion of leg spin bowling. I will cherish our entertaining dinners & all the fun times we shared over a long period of time. I would also like to thank you & Daphne for all your support & time you made for me as a young cricketer & leg spin bowler trying to make his way as an 18 year old, your tips & advice along the journey meant so much !!! Richie, you were loved by everyone, not just the cricket family, you were the godfather of cricket & you will be missed by all… R.I.P my friend #BowledRichie
Our thoughts are with the Benaud family at this time, RIP one of the games all time greats! He will be missed by the whole cricketing world.
— Darren Lehmann (@darren_lehmann) April 9, 2015
— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) April 9, 2015
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