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Published: Friday 10th April 2015 by The News Editor
Leading figures from the world of cricket have been paying tribute to Richie Benaud following the former Australia captain and broadcaster’s death at the age of 84.
Benaud was as well known for his commentary as his cricket after moving into a career in the media in 1956 which saw him become the voice of the game in both England and his homeland.
But he was also a trailblazing all-rounder who took 228 wickets and scored 2,201 runs in 68 Tests while never losing a series in charge of his country.
And current Australia Test captain Michael Clarke believes it was Benaud’s spirit as well as his prowess with bat, ball and microphone that made him one of the most popular figures in the game.
“I think that everybody involved in the game of cricket: supporters, players, the media, everyone, Richie is known for a lot more than bowling a few leg-spinners and hitting a few cover drives,” he told Today on Channel Nine in Australia.
“I think that’s probably why he’s such an idol to so many current cricketers because he’s been such a gentleman on the field, an amazing player and a lot of current players probably don’t realise what a good player he was.
“But, what he’s done off the field, he’s an amazing example to a lots of sportsmen. I think all of us look up to Richie so it’s a really sad day.
“He was a great player and a great captain, a wonderful leader of men and I think he’s continued that off the field. He sets a great example, he’s a gentleman, he played the game in the right spirit.
“He loved winning and I think he helped the Australian team have that attitude that they wanted to win but he played the game the right way.”
Benaud took a break from commentary in 2013 after being involved in a car accident and just over a year later his comeback was put on ice as he began to receive treatment for skin cancer.
He never did return to the microphone full time but his legacy was long since secured and Australia coach Darren Lehmann hailed him as “one of the game’s greats”.
“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,” said Lehmann.
“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.
“He spent a lot of time talking to players of all ages, passing on his great knowledge and love of the game. What stood out more than anything about Richie is that he always put the game first.
“There will only ever be one Richie Benaud. Our thoughts go out to Daphne, John and the entire Benaud family at this sad time.”
Benaud at one point was Australia’s leading wicket-taker with his leg-spin before his record was surpassed by Dennis Lillee and eventually Shane Warne.
One of Benaud’s most famous commentaries was on the ‘ball of the century’ – Warne’s first delivery in Ashes cricket which dismissed Mike Gatting – and the 45-year-old fellow leg-spinner paid an emotional tribute to his mentor on Instagram.
“Dear Richie,” he wrote.
“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.”
England coach Peter Moores was also among those to express their sympathy at Benaud’s passing, saying: “Richie sums up all that is great about our sport.
“He was a true gentlemen with a real insight into the game, he made heroes of the players he commentated on and his enthusiasm for the sport made you want to get off the sofa and play.
“He will be sorely missed.”
The tributes continued to pour in as the rest of the world awoke to the news.
Australia batsman Steve Smith, currently in India playing in the Indian Premier League, wrote on Twitter: ” Sad to wake up and hear of the loss of Richie Benaud. True gentleman and The Voice of cricket. Will always be remembered RIP Richie #190.”
The number 190 refers to Benaud’s Test cap number for Australia.
A three-part post from India great S achin Tendulkar read: ” #RIPRichie Wonderful personality who was always warm and encouraging. Had great insights on the game.
“Fondly remember our discussion on the art of leg spin along with Official @ShaneWarne in Sharjah. Last spoke to him late last year.
“Was not well but full of enthusiasm. Great loss to the world of cricket. Heartfelt condolences to Richie’s family and friends.”
Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara added:” 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”
Published: Friday 10th April 2015 by The News Editor