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O Captain! My Captain!* Richie Benaud 1930-2015 …

  • April 10th, 2015
  • Posted by EU Australia

Richie_Benaud_1956 Richie Benaud commentaryRichie Benaud has died from skin cancer aged 84; tributes gathering immediately from throughout the criket community and beyond.

He was a figure of history. An infant at the time of the “bodyline” series pitched by England against Don Bradman, he became a hero to the Baby Boom generation of young cricketers. During his time as Australian Captain, 1958-64, reversing a period of set-backs, he never lost a series – and after all that became chief among the television commentators.

An all-rounder rated among the best-ever leg spin bowlers, he made a first-class career tally of 2000 runs and 200 wickets.

WSCThe second career ensured the fame would last. An early-starter with cricket commentary, Richie Benaud did Channel Nine Australia’s World Series Cricket in the late 1970s, brain-child of the proprietor, Kerry Packer.

It was cricket’s break-through into high-pressure commercialisation and professionalisation, one-day and still shorter formats.

As the era began, viewers would stick with the commentaries of Alan McGilvray and the ABC panel still on radio, turning down the sound on the TV.

This was overcome by “Richie” as he went on to over 40 years at the lip microphone, developing a laconic style, the “elegant clown” persona in the end much loved. Among many distinctions for which he was well remembered, he publicly decried the under-arm bowling incident in 1981 – Australia doing it to win a One Day International match against New Zealand.

The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, proposing a state funeral for Richie Benaud, spoke of the man’s place in the history of the country: his voice was the “sound of Summer”. (In the event, Mrs Benaud, Daphne, declined, saying he had wanted a private ceremony).
sunscreenRichie had recorded it all as entirely “all great fun”, with one great regret, that sun protection was taken up too late for all activities out-doors: “We didn’t even wear caps”, he said, incredulous in his latter days.


*Walt Whitman, Abraham Lincoln elegy, 1965

“O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done;

The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;

The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,

While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring …”


Pictures  Wikipedia, Cancer Council, Cricket Australia