Benaud turns 500It is difficult for current generations to think of Richie Benaud as anything else but cricket's greatest television broadcaster, but he was one of the best allrounders the game has seen, especially as a spinning allrounder, and was to boot, one of the best captains of Australia. I read a report that Richie Benaud will take on the mike in his 500th Test as commentator in this week's Adelaide Test between Australia and India, which came close on the heels of my reading of his autobiography, actually titled Anything but an autobiography.
Among his other achievements, Benaud was also the first Test cricketer to pick up the double of 200 wickets and 2000 runs and had a well-known part to play in the first ever Tied Test where he was the opposite number to Sir Frank Worrell. Considered to be one of (if not just "the") the elder statesmen currently in the game, he is also considered to have influenced such changes as the 15-over fielding restrictions in limited-over internationals and drop-in pitches, though his rain rule method in the '92 World Cup came a cropper.
Benaud has been the face of Channel Nine's cricket coverage and also a well-known figure on British TV and his distinctive voice has let loose a pack of mimics for whom he is a great item to imitate in their ouevre. His memoirs were pretty interesting, describing how in conjunction with the then chairman of selectors, Sir Don Bradman, he laid great emphasis on playing entertaining cricket, the business of chuckers, the Packer series, his own career as a reporter covering crime & sport and how he missed out laying a bet on England at odds of 2000-1 in 1981 at Headingley because Godfrey Evans (ex-England and working for Ladbrokes) didn't come by that day.