Cricket fans flocked to the Benaud statue at the Sydney Cricket Ground to pay their respects to, Richie Benaud, the former Test captain and commentator who died last April 10, age 84.
Among the fans were the three founding members of the ‘Richies’, a group of diehard Richie Benaud fans known for turning up at cricket games in tan suits and silver wigs and carrying foam microphones.
The Richies, which now boasts of 300 members from a mere nine-member team, has a saying when they attend the cricket: “What would Richie do?”
“He’s cricket. He’s summer. He’s incredible,” Michael Hennessy, one of the founding members, said and added that Benaud was a magnificent man.
It was last November 2014 that Benaud announced that he was diagnosed with skin cancer.
Australia Prime Minister Tony Abbott offered a state funeral to Benaud’s family, but they refused, as Benaud preferred a private funeral.
Australian journalist Gideon Haigh had once described Benaud as “perhaps the most influential cricketer and cricket personality since the Second World War.” On the other hand, Sri Lankan cricket writer Harold de Andrado wrote in his review of Benaud’s autobiography Anything But that Benaud was probably one of the greatest personalities in cricket.
As well he should be. During his stint in cricket, Benaud helped restore Australia to the top of world cricket in the late 1950s and early 1960s after a slump in the early 1950s. After getting the Australia’s Test captain position in 1958, he went on to become the first player to reach 200 wickets and 2,000 runs in Test Cricket.
Unlike other cricketers though, he didn’t disappear from the limelight after retiring from international cricket. He went on to become a highly regarded commentator on the game.
Richie, you will be missed.