10 Great Richie Benaud Moments

Tim CollinsFeatured ColumnistOctober 6, 2013

10 Great Richie Benaud Moments

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    Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

    The doyen of commentary, Richie Benaud is perhaps the most revered cricketing personality living today.

    His sumptuous blend of insight, wit, humour and intelligence has made Benaud the standard by which all others are judged in the realm of sports commentary.

    Few have ever owned his ability to deliver the telling observation with the same, perfect sense of timing and occasion. 

    Yet Benaud's legendary status in the broadcast box has somewhat overshadowed his immensely distinguished career on the other side of the boundary fence.

    A fine all-rounder and one of Australia's greatest ever captains, Benaud was a player with the utmost respect for the game's history, but also a trailblazer with an awareness for how to carry cricket forwards.

    Along with Sir Frank Worrell, Benaud was responsible for saving Test cricket in the 1960-61 Australian summer, initiating a captivating series of attacking play at a time when the game was turning away its audience.

    So on his 83rd birthday, we look back at some of Benaud's finest moments.

2,000 Runs, 200 Wickets Double

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    In 1963, Richie Benaud became the first player to score 2,000 runs and take 200 wickets in Test cricket.

    An aggressive lower-order batsman, Benaud's stroke play was, much like his commentary, beautifully elegant. His play all around the wicket was perhaps unrivalled among his lower-order counterparts, his ability to score runs in a variety of ways his defining characteristic.

    Yet it was with the ball that the now 83-year-old really made his mark.

    His leg spin was the finest the world had witnessed since the great Bill O'Reilly, his control of spin and flight unparalleled during his generation.

    Although many men have since completed this double, Benaud was the first, making him a pioneer of modern all-rounders.

1960-61 Series vs. West Indies

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    As previously mentioned, the 1960-61 Australian summer was a turning point for Test cricket.

    After a dreary decade of defensive play during the 1950s, Benaud and West Indies captain Sir Frank Worrell, set about changing not only the perception of the game, but the mentality in which it was played.

    As captains of their respective sides, the pair encouraged attacking cricket, risk-taking and bold play to deliver a fascinating series.

    What eventuated was the most thrilling series the game had witnessed in decade, with the tied Test at Brisbane becoming the most iconic match of the 20th century.

    If not for the collaboration of these two men, it's quite possible that Test cricket may have ceased to exist as we know it today.

Condemnation of Trevor Chappell's Underarm Delivery

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    One of Benaud's finest qualities was his ability to deliver the incisive comment while remaining in touch with the consensus of fans worldwide.

    His condemnation of the underarm delivery bowled by Trevor Chappell against New Zealand in 1981 was a fantastic example of Benaud's understanding of the game's principles and primary interests.

    Refusing to concede to the game's conservatives, Benaud delivered this analysis (refer to video) shortly after the contentious incident.

Commentary for Andrew Symonds Incident with Streaker

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    When the moment called for delightful wit, no one has ever been able to match Benaud in the commentary box.

    Whether it be controversial incidents, breathtaking play or amusing sideshows, Benaud was always able to make the timely call when the moment needed it.

    When Australia's Andrew Symonds was confronted by a streaker in Brisbane in 2008, the doyen of commentary delivered this gem (refer to video) as the powerful batsman brushed aside the pitch invader.

Unforgettable Mike Gatting Quote

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    Benaud's wit in the commentary box was as glorious as his cricketing knowledge, with endless gems being beamed into the living rooms of cricket fans around the world.

    Particularly memorable was this quote, observing England's Mike Gatting while in the field during the Ashes in Australia in 1995.

    Gatting at fine leg; that's a contradiction in terms.

    Such glorious, impartial nonchalance has been a hallmark of Benaud's commentary.

Rapid Hundred Versus West Indies

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    The innings that best embodied Benaud's enterprising mentality was his masterpiece against the West Indies in Kingston in 1955.

    Coming in at No. 8, Benaud struck 121 in just 96 minutes, which included 18 blistering fours and two immense sixes.

    His innings, which came at a time before balls faced were recorded, was a part of a mammoth 758-8 total that set up an innings victory for the visitors.

    At a time when cricket was enduring a dull era of batting, Benaud gave his contemporaries a glimpse into how the game would be played in the years to come.

Call on Glenn McGrath

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    Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

    Another of Benaud's sharpest lines, this one was particularly amusing after the legendary Australian bowler Glenn McGrath was dismissed for just two runs.

    McGrath, long regarded as one of the worst batsmen of all time, was always a favourite of Benaud's, the commentary maestro doing his best to positively reflect on another failed innings from the No. 11.

    And Glenn McGrath dismissed for two, just 98 runs short of his century.

    Another example of Benaud's impeccable wit behind the microphone.

Benaud Explains the Genius in His Methods

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    Scott Barbour/Getty Images

    Perhaps nothing quite sums up Richie's understanding of his role in the commentary box better than this quote.

    While so many others in the broadcasting game fail to comprehend the true intricacies and nuances that the microphone demands, Benaud explains the rationale and thinking behind his true genius.

    The key thing was to learn the value of economy with words and to never insult the viewer by telling them what they can already see.

    A telling insight into the mind of commentary's finest exponent.

Ball of the Century Commentary

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    While the greatest ball of the 20th century may belong to the incomparable Shane Warne, Benaud, as always, was there to deliver the most relived piece of commentary in the game's history.

    After Warne had completed the most breathtaking moment ever witnessed in the Test arena, Benaud was there to perfectly encapsulate the moment like few others could.

    His poise in a moment of unprecedented drama epitomised his broadcasting abilities.

Final Commentary Moments in England

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    Benaud's full-time commentary career in England came to an end at the conclusion of the 2005 Ashes series, a fitting finale on English soil for the game's greatest broadcaster.

    A media career that began with the BBC in 1960 ended with Benaud signing off in style in the closing stages of the most memorable Test series in the game's history.

    A captivating exhibition of electric cricket, the 2005 Ashes series was the delightful parting gift England gave to the doyen of the commentary box.