Richie Benaud who died at the age of 84, will be remembered  more than many of his generation as a great cricket player and a wonderful commenter. Benaud remains one of the great all rounders of the game with 248 test wickets and over 2000 runs in test cricket.  Indians will have especially fond memories of him as he toured India and Pakistan as captain in 1958-59 series. This was a period in Indian cricket when the greats of cricket like Len Hutton, Bradman and Fred Truman deemed it beneath their dignity to tour India. But Benaud came and won over the Indians with his magical  charisma and  spin bowling. Who can forget his magical spell at Madras when he reduced India from 108 fo1 to 149 for 9 by tea time with a fine exhibition of leg spin bowling. This was the time when representative Tamilians presented Benaud with a silk stole in the middle of the pitch for his wonderful spin bowling.

Benaud was born in 1930 and was destined to lead Australia. He was the second player to clap hands with Frank Worrell in the famous tied  test at Brisbane. Benaud led one of the great Australian teams that included Alan Davidson, Neil Harvey and Norman O'neal. Apart from being a great leg spinner he was also an aggressive batsman and once raced to a century in 78 minutes against the West Indies in 1955.

Benaud did great service to Australian cricket. He was the first man to lead  a foreign team to a series win in Pakistan in 1959. In those days Pakistan were impregnable at home as they played on a matting wicket and Fazal  Mahmood and the mat along with not a little help from the umpires made them an invincible team. However Benaud led Australia to a 2-0 triumph. He broke the hoodoo of Fazal and the mat.

One of the finest exhibitions of spin bowling was in the Oval test in 1961. England had reached 150-1 and needed just another 80 runs for victory. Dexter was batting soundly with 76 before Benaud bowled him. In the next 25 balls he took 5 wickets as England hurtled to defeat by 30 runs.

After retirement Benaud became a cricket commentator. His lucid commentary and .incisive comments on the game were relished by the public and Benaud added to his stature as a great commentator. Benaud was a much loved man and the English fans gave him a standing ovation at the Oval in 2005 in London after his final commentary stint. Truly a great player and one who will have fond memories  for all cricket fans.let us pray that his soul rests in peace.


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