Veteran sports commentator Richie Benaud, who commentated cricket across six decades, has died aged 84.
He died peacefully in his sleep in a Sydney hospice, and had been receiving treatment for skin cancer since late last year.
Benaud began commentating cricket in 1960 for the BBC, after captaining for Australia, and became one of the key commentators for Kerry Packer’s breakaway World Series Cricket in the 1970s.
His voice and accuracy became synonymous with the sport across subsequent decades. While he did not commentate the last two seasons, he did make an appearance at Nine’s most recent cricket launch late last year.
Nine Chief Executive David Gyngell said, “Richie Benaud’s passing has robbed us not only of a national treasure, but a lovely man.
“Richie earned the profound and lasting respect of everyone across the world of cricket and beyond – first as an outstanding player and captain, then as an incomparable commentator, and through it all as a wonderful human being.
“Richie is a true legend not only to all the people who knew him, but to the many millions who didn’t. Which speaks volumes. He’s been part of the Australian psyche.
“Since way back in 1977 Richie has been a much loved member of the Nine family. More than that, he sat at the head of our table. We shall miss him dearly, but we’ll forever treasure his indelible memory and all the marvellous values for which he stood.
“Cricket is very much the richer for Richie Benaud’s lifelong engagement. And so are we all. Our deepest sympathies go to Daphne and Richie’s family.”
Nine’s Head of Sport, Steve Crawley said, “You didn’t have to know Richie to love him. Everything about him. Best in the business bar none. We will miss him the way you miss loved ones. And at the same time we will thank our lucky stars he came our way at all.”
Richie is still widely regarded as one of the most influential people in the history of cricket.
On the Daily Telegraph James Packer writes, “Dad and I enjoyed a long, long professional and personal journey with Richie Benaud. He was not only for nearly four decades a much-loved figure in the Nine family, but also in the Packer family.
“We never had a cross word. Richie’s word was his bond.
“Like so many others, we treasured Richie’s quiet but steely integrity, his honesty, his modesty, his sense of humour and his towering skill. But above all, what we always knew about Richie was that he was in the vernacular simply a great bloke.
“A lovely, generous, caring human being who was always the very best company. We shall miss him, but treasure the huge part he played in our lives.”