Doyen

The news broke just as I was going to bed last night. It had been foreshadowed earlier in the day and so the shock had been mitigated somewhat. Richie Benaud had passed away, and as I am even more frequently saying these days, so did a little bit of my childhood.

Feel free to read all the obits doing the rounds, many very good, many personal anecdotes and many mentions of how he resonated, how he developed your knowledge and love for the sport, and importantly how brilliantly he moved with the times. I’m not going to try to add to them. There’s no point. As Grenville just said on a recent comment “Damn. Richie Benaud’s dead”.

Add your own tributes below, and I’m sure you will all do a fine job. I don’t feel much more than gratitude. Gratitude for a life where he touched millions, where he showed what could be done with commentary, and where you felt you knew him. A truly inspirational figure. He will be missed. A lot.

RIP Richie Benaud. There will never be another you. I’m popping down to the confectionery store.

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29 thoughts on “Doyen

  1. keyserchris Apr 10, 2015 / 11:46 am

    The only comment I could bring myself to make, hopefully in the spirit of the man himself, was “Richie Benaud was simply marvellous”. Because he was. wish I could have seen him play.

    The Full Toss YouTube clip of his last words at the Oval in 2005 are a magnificent example of his work. It says everything of the man that the entire ground gave him an ovation, players included.

    Like

  2. Vian Apr 10, 2015 / 11:58 am

    I was fortunate enough to be in his company just the once, at Old Trafford for a dinner celebrating the 50th anniversary of Jim Laker’s 19-90. I’m sure like anyone else he had days when he was in a foul mood, so I don’t judge someone on a single meeting, but he was everything you would expect him to be that day – charm personified, keen to talk about everything and everyone but himself and expressing a love of cricket as a game greater that anything else.

    It was also notable and deeply charming how Mark Nicholas that day behaved like a wide eyed child in the company of his idol. He may not be everyone’s favourite by any stretch of the imagination, but his adoration and hero worship of Benaud was more than apparent.

    He was the soundtrack of our childhood summers, the man who along with Jim Laker introduced so many of us to the greatest game of all.

    It’s tempting to compare and contrast with all those currently doing the same job. Perhaps nothing need be said, the love for Richie Benaud and the genuine sadness expresses it better than anything.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. James Apr 10, 2015 / 12:06 pm

    I got up around 10am in the middle of a school summer holiday in 1993.
    “Morning Geoffrey. Morning everyone” was all it took and I shortly became a fan of test cricket.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ZeroBullshit Apr 10, 2015 / 12:19 pm

    I will just re-post what I said in the previous post:

    “Richie Benaud gone. A very sad day for me. He kindly gave me his autograph when I was a boy.

    Best leg spinner in his day. Best Australian captain I ever saw. Best TV commentator and one of the best cricket writers. Rest in peace Sir.”

    Like

    • SimonH Apr 10, 2015 / 12:35 pm

      “Best Australian captain I ever saw”.

      I never saw Richie play but can well believe it. It’s incredible that he never lost a series as Australian captain. The side he led doesn’t full of greats (Neil Harvey and Alan Davidson excepted) and he played against England and West Indies’ sides that were loaded with legendary names. Truly Australia under his leadership were more than the sum of their parts.

      Gideon Haigh has a piece about him on cricinfo which needs no more recommendation. Dan Brettig (an exceptional young writer) has a fine piece as well about how hard Richie worked to make it look so effortless.

      Like

      • ZeroBullshit Apr 10, 2015 / 12:58 pm

        I would actually go further Simon. I think he was the best Test captain I have seen. He influenced his team by his personality and drew excellent performances from them. He got a lot out of Colin McDonald, Peter Burge and Ken Mackay as well as superior players like Wally Grout, Bill Lawry, Bobby Simpson and the brilliant Norman O’Neill.

        Cricket had become very dull at the time. Benaud decided to liven up the game and the term “Bright cricket” came into being.

        Benaud liked to gamble on the field and was known for “conning” the opposition into thinking that the pitch was full of demons when it actually wasn’t. The 1961 Old Trafford test is an example of this.

        You will enjoy this article about that famous match:

        http://goo.gl/yCvqV9

        Like

      • ZeroBullshit Apr 10, 2015 / 1:13 pm

        I read Brettig early this morning and have now read Haigh. Both very good.

        Here’s Tony Cozier:

        http://goo.gl/gI68DF

        Like

  5. Mark Apr 10, 2015 / 12:33 pm

    I have reproduced some of my favourite sayings of his on the thread below. But I would just like to add another aspect of his commentary. He seemed to be genuinely independent. We all have our own biases, and as an Aussie, and ex Australian captain it would not have been surprising if he had allowed his commentary to become rather one eyed. But to my mind he was scrupulously fair. (Something Channel 9 seems to have given up with in the modern age.)

    I’m so glad he lived to see Shane Warne bowl. It must have been a real thrill for him. And after the lean times of the 80s he got to see the great Australian side of the 1990s and 200s.

    He didn’t become an old fogey. He moved with the times. The only slight rebuff I can remember was in response to Michael Atherton’s complaint about the “gutter press” during the dirt in the pocket affair. Richie politely made the point that he didn’t really appreciate being referred to like that. Mike Atherton apologised. ( although I doubt he ever meant Richie in particular.)

    RIP mate!

    Like

  6. Benny Apr 10, 2015 / 12:41 pm

    He was the Master. Those were the days when we needed one commentator only and it felt like you were sitting alongside Richie. With multiple commentators, it feels like you’re sitting behind them while they chat to each other. Richie was always an essential part of the cricket experience.

    Like

  7. SteveT Apr 10, 2015 / 1:04 pm

    Richie (with Jim Laker) was one of the main reasons why I love cricket as much as I do. It was like having a mate on the boundary edge in your living room. In all the years of Ashes cricket I never heard a slightest hint of any bias from him. English summers were never the same without him. Gutted he’s gone. RIP Richie, not just the greatest cricket commentator, but the greatest sports commentator ever full stop IMHO.

    Like

    • Vian Apr 10, 2015 / 1:32 pm

      You’ve rather reminded me how Jim Laker would react to a wicket falling as though his favourite son had just deeply disappointed him. The two of them together were a joy.

      Like

  8. paulewart Apr 10, 2015 / 2:11 pm

    He was the voice of cricket and thus the voice of childhood and summer, of times missed and time past. The master is no more, RIP Richie.

    Like

  9. "IronBalls" McGinty Apr 10, 2015 / 2:23 pm

    Well played Sir…a damn fine innings!

    Like

  10. Zephirine Apr 10, 2015 / 4:11 pm

    He was always there, and I kind of thought he’d be there for ever.

    But in a way he always will be, as long as cricket’s played.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rooto Apr 10, 2015 / 6:02 pm

      Well said, Zeph. I feel a little sad for all of us, very sad for his family and friends, and yet a little jealous of a long life so successfully lived. Well done, Richie. RIP

      The most memorable quote in my mind: “…and a fairy tale start.” Anyone else know it?

      Like

      • BigKev67 Apr 12, 2015 / 6:46 am

        Taking a punt here – I think it’s David Gower pulling his first ball in Test cricket for four?

        Like

    • BoerInAustria Apr 11, 2015 / 6:23 am

      As Springsteen said of Dan and Clarence: “…if you are here, and we are here,… they are here..”

      Like

  11. MM Apr 10, 2015 / 5:52 pm

    I loved that man. Yep, there goes another bit of childhood. Much love to his family and friends.

    This is my favourite bit from him… about the worst bit of cricket! He could kick proper ass whilst being the very definition of polite.

    Like

  12. Rohan Apr 10, 2015 / 7:18 pm

    A true hero for me; an absolute legend! Adored his cricket commentary and he was ‘the man’ when I started watching on the BBC in the early 90s. Just a privilege to listen too……….

    Like

  13. Annie weatherly-barton Apr 10, 2015 / 7:52 pm

    So v v sad to hear this! Bless him! Just the best alongside john arlot! May he continue to commentate forever! Annie WB somewhere in Malverns with old man 10th anniversary of wedded bliss!

    Like

    • MM Apr 10, 2015 / 9:34 pm

      I think I saw you! I was stood next to the tower at Broadway. OK, not at all close, but it was still just about in Worcestershire.

      Like

  14. lionel joseph Apr 10, 2015 / 11:05 pm

    A great and accomplished cricketer, captain, journalist and commentator.

    It’s tough to imagine anyone producing an obituary for Benaud that will surpass the one he did for Tony Grieg only a couple of years ago.

    I’m left feeling sad but I also feel very sorry for Bill Lawrie who has clearly lost two dear friends and colleagues in the space of two years.

    Like

    • lionel joseph Apr 10, 2015 / 11:06 pm

      *Lawry

      Like

  15. thebogfather Apr 11, 2015 / 5:28 am

    great cheerful memories by Billy Birmingham over at TFT

    Like

  16. BoerInAustria Apr 11, 2015 / 6:18 am

    We are indeed going through a rough patch in cricket at the moment. A big loss.
    RIP RB,

    Like

  17. Tom Apr 11, 2015 / 7:29 am

    Back in the 1986/87 Ashes tour of Australia, there was a classic piece of Richie Benaud commentary I still remember to this day, nearly 30 years later. I forget if it was during a test match or an ODI, but do remember the bowler was the late Graham Dilley. During a spell of superb fast bowling the batsmen had been playing and missing frequently until one ball was edged through the slips for four. The TV camera closed in on Dilley and everyone could make out the volley of four letter words Dilley screamed at the batsman.

    After a few seconds, Richie said something like “For all you lip readers out there, you’ll know that Dilley has just informed the batsman that was a rather fortunate shot.”

    I wish I could find the clip on youtube, I’ve tried for years, but it was pure Richie Benaud. What a loss to cricket.

    Like

  18. Tom Apr 11, 2015 / 7:41 am

    And another classic:

    Like

  19. Arron Wright Apr 11, 2015 / 1:56 pm

    Only one cricket writer I know of could pay tribute to Richie with the phrase “he wore his achievements with the modesty of a prince”.

    I never knew princes were the epitome of modesty.

    If you can’t guess who without clicking, you aren’t trying hard enough.

    Like

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