‘Voice of cricket’ Richie Benaud dies at 84

Richie Benaud RIP
Richie Benaud RIP

Tributes have poured in for legendary Australian cricketer and commentator Richie Benaud, who has died at 84.

Benaud, who captained his country and made 63 Test match appearances, had been battling skin cancer and recovering from the after-effects of a car accident in 2013.

Dubbed the Voice of Cricket, he was as revered on this side of the world, where he worked on television from 1963 to 2005, as he was in his homeland.

For many of us, his voice is inextricably linked with the long, hot summers of our childhood – when his soothing tones provided the soundtrack to long days of cricket coverage in an age when sport was nowhere near as widely available on TV as it is now.

Moments after his death was confirmed by his long-term employer Channel Nine, sports stars and celebrity cricket fans vented their emotions on Twitter.

Australian prime minister Tony Abbott said: "A sad day for Australia. We have lost a cricketing champion and Australian icon. What an innings. RIP Richie Benaud."

Hollywood actor Russell Crowe tweeted: "RIP Richie Benaud. My deep gratitude for all you gave to the sport of cricket as a player and as a broadcaster. Sad, sad day."

And Piers Morgan said: "RIP Richie Benaud. The greatest cricket commentator of them all & a wonderful man. Mourning Everyone."

Benaud's health had suffered in recent years, after he sustained rib and spine injuries in October 2013 when he drove his vintage 1963 Sunbeam Alpine into a garden wall in Coogee.

A planned comeback to the commentary box around a year later was then put on ice after he revealed he was undergoing treatment for melanomas on his forehead, scalp and neck.

Australian media reported he died in a Sydney hospice with his wife Daphne and family around him.

Among the sports stars paying tribute was former Leeds and Liverpool footballer Harry Kewell, an Australian international, who said: "A sad day in cricket. I will sadly miss listening to the legend richiebenaud 's commentary. His voice IS cricket."

BBC Sport's Dan Walker tweeted: "Used to wait for Richie Benaud to say 'morning everyone' to kick start the summer. Very sad news."

Benaud is survived by his wife and two sons from a previous marriage.