Vale Richie Benaud

Vale Richie Benaud

Recently, this old bat was passed to me to gain some verification if at all possible about whether it was a  bat Richie had used as a young representative player for NSW.

Tall order, and obviously, even taller now – impossible in fact.

But this bat, and the thoughts of a young Richie Benaud took me back to my childhood, and reading one of my first cricket books which was Benaud’s, The Way of Cricket (1961).

At the same time, the 1960/61 West Indies tour had just finished. It was a series epitomised by incredible cricket drama; played out by two very skilful teams; and orchestrated by two of the best captains and leaders in the history of cricket, Sir Frank Worrell and Richie Benaud.

What an inspiration for a young boy who was already smitten with this sport called cricket!

I tuned into the 1961 Ashes series in England on ABC radio trying to stay awake as long as I could, or as long as I was allowed by my parents.

My fascination and involvement with the game has never waned.

This article speaks to the person whom the game will fondly remember.

In one of my books, Learning from Legends – Australian Cricket, published by Fairfax Media, Richie Benaud was one of the 50 Australian cricket personalities I interviewed. Interestingly Richie, as is alluded to in the linked article, did not want to be filmed or do a face to face interview. Instead he chose to get an understanding of what I was requiring and then wrote the piece himself.

The theme of the book is about Leadership, and what the person being interviewed believed the concept to mean. In order to explain their thoughts, the interviewee provided examples, either personal situations or reflections on other people, of leadership in action.

I draw these quotes from Learning from Legends – Richie Benaud

  • I’ve never known anyone who was completely a natural leader, you have to work very hard at it because you are totally responsible for what happens to your team. If people talk of someone being a completely natural captain, they are having a lend of themselves and the person concerned. I found the most important thing in being a captain was to stay 2 overs ahead of the play. If you are level with what’s going on, or an over behind, then the opposition will run all over you. It was Keith Miller who taught me to stay ahead of the play, and it was great advice.
  • When I was made captain of NSW, and then Australia in 1958, I decided to do it my way. I was a working journalist with THE SUN newspaper in Sydney on police rounds under Noel Bailey, and was writing a sports column. At that time the Australian Board of Control – aptly named – and the players were miles apart: master and servant was the relationship. No media man was permitted to enter the Australian dressing room. I changed all that. From the First Test at the Gabba in Brisbane on December 5, 1958, the press were welcome to come in and talk to the players in the dressing room to gather background information, but they weren’t allowed to quote the players. They could quote me, but not my team. Otherwise, the innovation would instantly cease.
  • Leadership revolves around being in charge of a group of people, welcoming their ideas and suggestions and, at the same time, having them completely understand you will be the one making the final decision. The reason you will have the final say is that, while you might be the one taking some credit, you will certainly be the one taking all the blame if anything goes wrong.
    • Among a number of characteristics of leadership, Good leaders-
    • Listen and watch! Listen and remember!
    • Don’t take yourself too seriously
    • Remember, you are only one of the team
    • Sport is merely a reflection of life. It always has been and I believe always will be. Jack Gibson, the great rugby league coach, once passed on a valuable piece of advice…Last season does not matter. That’s why it is pointless the players bringing their scrapbooks to the first match

It is always sad to see the passing of anyone, let alone a person who came into your life at an early age, and in their particular way, have had some small influence in your life since then.

As indeed the old bat is a visual legacy to the past, Richie Benaud’s words, commentary and the dignity with which he carried his life will be a legacy to all of us, long beyond his passing.

John Buchanan


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