Former Australian cricket captain and legendary commentator Richie Benaud has passed away in a Sydney hospice this morning. He was aged 84.
It is understood Benaud had been unwell for some time including receiving treatment for cancer.
Benaud was involved in a car accident in 2013 which he never truly recovered from and forced him to retire from commentating.
Head of Channel Nine, David Gyngell, this morning released a statement on Benaud’s passing: “Richie Benaud’s passing has robbed us not only of a national treasure, but a lovely man. Since way back in 1977 Richie has been a much loved member of the Nine family. More than that, he sat at the head of our table. We shall miss him dearly, but we’ll forever treasure his indelible memory and all the marvellous values for which he stood.”
One of his few public appearances in 2015 was starring in an advertisement for lamb chops for Australia Day; however, he looked frail and a little unenthusiastic.
He was born in Penrith in Sydney’s west in 1930 and made his first class cricket debut for Penrith grade cricket before moving to Parramatta. He was a noted all-rounder but probably most famous for his spin bowling that featured the full array of leg breaks, googlies and topspinners. During his commentating years he appeared to take particular delight when the spinners came on, no more so than when Shane Warne bowled.
He made his debut for the NSW team at the ripe age of 18 and played his first game for Australia against the West Indies aged 22. He was promoted to national captain during the 1958-59 series and finished his international career with a batting average of 24.45 and a bowling average of 27.03.
After his retirement in 1964 he took up full time cricket journalism and commentary.
In 2004 he also starred in a series of television commercials for the Australian Tourism Commission. He also became a staunch advocate that cricket should remain free-to-air on Channel Nine.
Benaud became a much-loved commentator the world over and arguably one of the most influential people in world cricket. He later said his famed beige jackets were nothing more than the Nine commentary team wanting him to stand out from the other commentators.
Arguably his greatest legacy is that practically everybody does a Richie Benaud impersonation.