R.I.P. Richie Benaud
Just a short post to pay my respects to a great cricketing legend, Richie Benaud, who has died at the age of 84. It’s no surprise that the media are filled with tributes because he was admired by players and spectators alike. He retired as a player way back in 1964, so many would know him as a commentator, but he was a fine cricketer in his time. A shrewd tactician, he captained Australia with great distinction but was also an excellent leg-spinner, who took 248 wickets in Test matches, and a capable batsman. In fact he was the first cricketer in history to reach 2000 runs and 200 wickets at Test level, in an era when far fewer Test matches were played.
When he retired from the game as a player he turned to a career in broadcasting and soon established himself as a peerless comentator on the game. The deep knowledge of the game he acquired in his playing years helped of course, but he also had a natural feeling for when to comment and when to just let it happen. Too many commentators feel the urge to babble on during slower passages of play, but Richie Benaud understood the varying tempo of the game too much to spoil the experience with tittle-tattle. He was unfailingly courteous, generous and respectful, but never afraid to be critical when that was justified. His succinct and perceptive expert analyses during the intervals and after the close of play were especially good. I was going to describe him as a “class act” but I don’t think it was an act at all. I never met him in person, but I think he was as much of a gentleman in real life as he was in the commentary box or on the cricket field. His balanced, even-handed commentary won him as many admirers here as he had in his native Austrlia.
He was a regular commentator on English cricket during what passes for summer in the Northern hemisphere until the memorable Ashes series of 2005. He started his career in commentary in 1963, which was the year I was born, and he played a very big part Here are the last few moments of his last appearance as a commentator in England.
Rest in peace, Richie Benaud (1930-2015), and thank you for all you gave to the world of cricket.Follow @telescoper