#Cricket | #RIPRichie
By now, most of you will know the sad news about Richie Benaud… for those that don’t, he left us for good a little earlier this morning.
He was, and forever will be, the voice of Cricket in this country.
For people of my generation, he’s known best for his Commentary of the game, having been a part of the “sounds of summer” since November of 1977, when World Series Cricket was launched, BUT let’s not forget, that he was a fine all-round cricketer as well, and one of the great Australian captains.
248 Test Match wickets… a record for an Australian player when he retired in 1964, and a record that stood for 17 years, before Dennis Lillee broke it in the summer of 1980-1981.
He was also the first player to make 2000 runs, and take 200 wickets.
Benaud captained the Ashes winning sides of 1958-59, and 1961.
In 58-59, his side regained the Ashes from England, and then they retained them on foreign soil in 1961, becoming the first Australian team since Bradman’s Invincibles in 1948, to win the urn on English soil.
Benaud often referred to that 1961 tour as one of the highlights of his playing career.
After cricket, he moved into broadcasting… first for the BBC, then a short-period with Network TEN (then Channel 0), which included the Centenary Test, before joining NINE, and anchoring Kerry Packer’s breakaway World Series Cricket series telecasts.
For the next 35 years, Benaud, Bill Lawry, Tony Greig and Ian Chappell provided the soundtrack to our summer. They were as much a part of our summer, as the beach, a stubby and backyard barbecues and Cricket.
Two of the first things that come to mind when you’re thinking about the Australian summer of Cricket, are Richie Benaud, and that famous music that, like Benaud, has been part of the Nine furniture since day one.
There’ll never be another broadcaster like him.
When Richie was on commentary, you stopped and listened, and if anyone was to interrupt you while you were listening to him, you’d tell them to shut up too.
Benaud’s passion for the game, and knowledge of the game was unsurpassed… when he said something, it meant something… it had merit, and that’s why we stopped to listen, and appreciate a great cricket mind.
Richie loved what Television brought to the game of Cricket.
His philosophy was “if you can’t add anything to the picture, say nothing”, and so often, that’s what he did.
Along with his Channel Nine work, he was part of the Channel Four team in England from 1999-2005, and at the end of that season, when England won the Ashes for the first time since 1986-87, he retired from Broadcasting in England, but continued on Nine in Australia for another 8 seasons.
It was at Channel Four, where he worked alongside a man by the name of Mark Nicholas.
Benaud was instrumental in getting Nicholas on-board the Channel Nine coverage, and now Nicholas has one of the most prized roles in Australian sports broadcasting, as the anchor of the Summer of Cricket on Nine.
Benaud’s last summer in the commentary box was 2012-13… the same summer the game lost Tony Greig.
Benaud was due to be part of the team after that, but a car crash prior to the Ashes of 2013-14 ruled him out.
He didn’t get back to the commentary box for the 2014-15 summer either, despite Nine CEO, David Gyngell touting the idea of Richie calling the cricket from his Coogee home if he wasn’t well enough to be at the ground.
The car crash he had took its toll… his health deteriorated afterwards, and then he received another setback, when it was revealed he had skin cancer, and was being treated for that.
Sadly, there was no comeback from that, and he passed away, peacefully, in his sleep overnight.
So loved, and admired was Benaud, that he became the centre piece of Billy Birmingham’s 12th Man records… which became just as famous as the great man, himself.
It lead to Benaud becoming one of the most impersonated commentators in the land.
Some of the those lines include:
“Marvellous effort that.”
“WHAT A CATCH”, and let’s not forget
“Chew for Chewenty-Chew”
In the latter years, even channel nine commentators would work a Richie reference in, or do their best Richie when the score hit 2/22.
If you were in the crowd, you’d just tap the shoulder of the person alongside you.
Mark Nicholas, while interviewing Birmingham two years ago, recalled that he would attend 12th Man parties, where people would do their best Richie, whilst dressed as Richie, and listening to some Birmingham magic.
Going on from that, there’s, of course, “The Richies”, who dress up in their cream, bone, white, off-white, ivory or beige jackets every year at the Sydney Cricket Ground Test Match.
Tributes have flowed from all over the nation, and the world this morning, and just a short while ago, Prime Minister Tony Abbott confirmed that he would be offered a State Funeral.
In his tribute this morning, Billy Birmingham reminded us that Richie didn’t like the word, doyen, but Richie was unique, and one of a kind, and there’ll never be another one like him.
This is a very sad day for sport in this country, and the game of cricket as a whole… He was 84.
We’ve lost a cricket legend, the best commentator the game has ever seen, an icon, and a national treasure.
Summer, and Cricket on Nine will never quite be the same again.
Our thoughts are with Richie’s wife, Daphne, and the entire Benaud family today.
Well played, Richie Benaud… It was a marvellous innings.
Rest in Peace.
UPDATED: Daphne Benaud rang Canberra on Saturday, and declined the Prime Ministers offer of a State Funeral for Richie, stating that he didn’t want one.
He’ll be remembered at a private ceremony for FAMILY ONLY this week.
Below is the FULL tribute that the Nine Network aired on Saturday night, presented by Karl Stefanovic.