Richie Benaud : More Grace than W.G.

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Cricket fans around the world mourn the last of the gentleman commentators

Richie Benaud passed away today aged 84, following a long battle against skin cancer. The sadness that playing the game he loved contributed to his illness is tempered by the joy he gave to anyone who saw him play or heard him commentate.

As a player, he was the best leg spinner the world had ever seen until a certain Mr Warne arrived on the scene, combining variety and control to bring him 248 Test wickets. Powerful late order batting. superb fielding, particularly at gully, and groundbreaking, positive captaincy saw him become the finest player of his generation.

Unfortunately, I never saw him play so my love for Richie came from his laconic commentating. He famously said ''Put your brain into gear and if you can add to what’s on the screen then do it, otherwise shut up”. In a media world of hyperbole and hubris, Benaud's voice was the calm breeze, floating over game, the lightest of touch.

However this shouldn't be a sad day. We should celebrate what Richie gave us. A batsmen pinned to the crease, with accurate yet probing bowling, a lofted drive, a flashing catch, a shrewd fielding change, his words, a gossamer thread, sprinkled with gold will live with us forever. He showed us how to be a winner and gentleman.

He was finally dismissed 16 short of his century, yet the applause should ring out all the same.

He was marvellous.