Flags will be flown at half mast in Australia today following the news that commentator and cricket icon Richie Benaud has died aged 84.
The Australian leg spin bowler played 63 Tests for Australia before retiring in 1964, and never lost a series as captain. But it is his career as a broadcaster for which he will be remembered most fondly.
Benaud first appeared on BBC Radio while still a player in 1960, and made his television debut three years later. His last work in England came in the highlight 2005 Ashes series, but Benaud continued to commentate for Channel Nine in Australia in 2013.
In November last year, he revealed he was being treated for skin cancer, saying, “When I was a kid, we never ever wore a cap. I wish I had. You live and learn as you go along.”
Tributes have poured in for the ‘Voice of Cricket’. The Australian government has offered a state funeral to the family, with prime minister Tony Abbott saying, “To most Australians Richie Benaud was cricket. He personified its traditions and its values.
“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.”
Test Match Special commentator Jonathan Agnew called Benaud “the doyen of commentators”, adding that, “His incredible knack was knowing what to say and when to say it – usually as briefly as possible.”
One of Benaud’s last public acts was to record a tribute to batsman Phillip Hughes, who died after being struck by a bouncer in November last year.
Fellow former spin bowler Shane Warne thanked Benaud for the support he gave him as a young cricketer, saying “It was an honour & a privilege to call you a close friend and mentor”.