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Tributes pour in as broadcaster Richie Benaud dies at 84

By Scott D'Arcy

The MCC flag at Lords, the home of cricket, was flying at half-mast yesterday as tributes were paid to the former Australia captain and broadcaster Richie Benaud who has died aged 84.

Sporting stars and fans, including the Prime Minister, remembered a cricketing hero who never lost a series while leading his country and went on to become one of the game's best loved voices.

Benaud's wit and economy of style epitomised summer and cricket on the TV for millions of fans around the world, and he was as revered as much in England, where he worked on TV from 1963 to 2005, as he was at home.

Benaud's leg-spin claimed 248 wickets and he scored 2,201 runs in 63 Tests - the first cricketer to reach 200 wickets and surpass 2,000 runs at that level - but when he turned broadcaster, he was not one to hark back to his own great successes.

Benaud was loved for his brevity, letting the action speak for itself.

He once told fellow broadcasters: "Put your brain into gear and if you can add to what's on the screen then do it, otherwise shut up."

He offered warmer words of advice for his TV peers, saying: "Above all don't take yourself too seriously and have fun."

Benaud, dubbed the Voice of Cricket, stopped commentating two years ago following a car accident and had been treated for skin cancer, but his place in the game's pantheon of greats was cemented by then.

Australia coach Darren Lehmann said: "We loved listening to him commentate when the team was together in the dressing room. When he was on air, we always had the TV volume turned up because his comments were so insightful."

He mentored Shane Warne in the art of leg-spin, and took delight in seeing him burst on to the international stage in 1993. Australian media reported he died in a Sydney hospice with his wife Daphne and family around him.

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