Richie Benaud: 'Voice of cricket' dies at 84

'Voice of cricket' Richie Benaud dies at 84
'Voice of cricket' Richie Benaud dies at 84

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'Voice of cricket' Richie Benaud dies at 84 04:15

Story highlights

  • Richie Benaud first earned fame as a cricket player, later as broadcaster
  • Prime Minister Tony Abbott calls him "a cricketing champion and Australian icon"

(CNN)Former Australia cricket captain and legendary broadcaster Richie Benaud has died at the age of 84.

Benaud, whose witty one-liners from the commentary box resonated far beyond Australia's shores, said last year he was being treated for skin cancer.
"After Don Bradman, there has been no Australian player more famous than Richie Benaud," Cricket Australia said on its website.
    "Benaud stood at the top of the game throughout his rich life, first as a record-breaking leg-spinner and captain, and then as cricket's most famous -- and most impersonated -- broadcaster."
    A veteran of 64 Test matches, Benaud was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1985.
    While many regarded his voice as the soundtrack to an Australian summer, Benaud was equally revered by the cricketing public on the other side of the world where he spent more than four decades with the BBC taking the game into millions of British living rooms.
    But whether you were sitting in Sydney or in South London, there were plenty of "marvelous" Richie moments from the box to savor:
    "And Glenn McGrath dismissed for two, just ninety-eight runs short of his century."
    "From our broadcasting box you can't see any grass at all. It is simply a carpet of humanity."
    "Captaincy is 90% luck and 10% skill. But don't try it without that 10%."

    Cricketer with few equals

    News of his passing quickly generated a wave of condolences, including from Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
    "To most Australians Richie Benaud was cricket. He personified its traditions and its values," Abbott said in a written statement Friday.
    "While many Australians only know Richard Benaud as the voice of cricket, we should not forget that in his day he was a cricketer with few equals. It was why he was so insightful as a commentator.
    "As a player his record has withstood the test of time. He led the Australian side from 1958/59 through to 1963/1964, never losing a series in his 28 Tests as captain.
    "As captain, he was first to lead a full Australian tour to India and Pakistan in 1959/60. He was the first cricketer to reach a Test double of 2,000 runs and 200 wickets.
    "Given the special place Richie Benaud has in our national life, I have asked that on the day of his funeral flags fly at half-mast. I extend my condolences and the condolences of the Australian people, to his wife Daphne and his family and friends.
    Current Australian captain Michael Clarke posted an image of Benaud on Instagram with the message: "What a man. Extremely sad day. You were a lot more then just a cricketer Richie. RIP."

    What a man. Extremely sad day. You were a lot more then just a cricketer Richie. RIP

    A photo posted by Michael Clarke (@michaelclarkeofficial) on

    Clarke's former teammate Shane Warne also took to Instagram to post a touching letter to the late commentator.
    He wrote: "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."

    Legendary status

    Benaud, who was born in 1930 in Penrith, New South Wales, lead Australia into an era of world dominance as a player. But it was after he hung up his spikes that his legendary status was confirmed.
    Writing in a column in The Australian, cricket writer Gideon Haigh wrote "television was Benaud's calling, suiting his captain's spontaneity and intuition.
    "He was authoritative but not pedantic, dignified but not pompous, and never spoke unless he had something to say. He was so popular that many humorists strove to imitate him, so distinctive that none ever quite got him right."
    The BBC's cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew agreed.
    "He was quite simply peerless. Nobody else had his authority, popularity and skill," Agnew said in a column on the BBC website. "If you speak to any broadcaster from any sport, they will point to Richie as the standard-bearer."
    Australian national team coach Darren Lehmann said Benaud set "an incredibly high standard on and off the field."
    "The fact that Australia never lost a series under his captaincy says so much and those standards were just as high when he turned his attention to calling the game," he told cricket.com.au.
    "We loved listening to him commentate when the team was together in the dressing room. When he was on air, we always had the TV volume turned up because his comments were so insightful."
    Benaud's passing also drew messages of sympathy on social media from beyond his native Australia.
    Imran Khan, the former captain of Pakistan and now a leading politician there, tweeted: "Saddened by the death of Richie Benaud, one of the greatest cricketing brains."
    While Kumar Sangakkara, the current captain of Sri Lanka's Test team, posted: "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."
    British Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: "I grew up listening to Richie Benaud's wonderful cricket commentary. Like all fans of the sport, I will miss him very much."