Richie Benaud

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Richie Benaud : biography

6 October 1930 –

Books

  • The Way of Cricket (1961)
  • A Tale of Two Tests (1962)
  • Spin Me a Spinner (1963)
  • The New Champions (1966)
  • Willow Patterns (1969)
  • Test Cricket (1982)
  • World Series Cup Cricket 1981-82 (1982)
  • The Hottest Summer (1983)
  • The Ashes 1982-83 (1983)
  • Benaud on reflection (1984)
  • The Appeal of Cricket (1995)
  • Anything But (1998)
  • My Spin on Cricket (2005)
  • Over But Not Out (2010)

Consolidation

After returning home from his first overseas tour, Benaud was prolific during the 1953–54 Australian season, which was purely domestic with no touring Test team. The all-rounder contributed significantly with both bat and ball in New South Wales’ Sheffield Shield triumph, the first of nine consecutive titles. In the opening match of the season, he struck 158 and took 5/88 and 1/65 against Queensland. He made another century in the return match, striking 144 not out and taking a total of 2/55. Midway through the season, he played in Morris’s XI in a testimonial match for Hassett, who captained the other team. Benaud scored 78 and 68 and took a total of 5/238, his victims being Davidson and frontline Test batsmen in a 121-run win. He then finished the summer strongly, scoring 112 and 59 and totalling 7/163 against Western Australia, taking 4/70 and 5/33 against South Australia, helping to secure wins in both fixtures. Benaud ended the season with 811 runs at 62.38 and 35 wickets at 30.54.

Despite his inability to contribute with either bat or ball in England, Benaud was the only bowler selected for all five Tests of the 1954-55 series when England visited Australia. He secured his place after scoring 125 against Queensland at the start of the season.Benaud, p. 92 His lead-up form in two matches against England for his state and an Australian XI was not encouraging. He made 49 runs in two innings and took a total of 3/160.

He managed only 148 runs at 16.44, managing double figures in seven of nine innings but failing to pass 34. His bowling, used sparingly at the time, yielded nine wickets at 33.11. At this stage of his career, he had played 13 Tests with mediocre results. Selected as a batsman who could bowl, he had totalled 309 runs at 15.45 without passing 50, and taken 23 wickets at 37.87 with only two four-wicket innings hauls. Even so he was promoted to vice-captain above several senior players when Ian Johnson and Keith Miller missed the 2nd Test at Sydney through injury and Arthur Morris was made temporary captain. He also made 113 against the tourists for the .

Australia’s selectors persisted and selected him for the squad to tour the West Indies in 1954-55. Their faith was rewarded by an improvement in performances. Benaud contributed 46 and match figures of 2/73 in a First Test victory at Kingston. After a draw in the Second Test, he took three wickets in four balls to end with 4/15 in the first innings at Georgetown, Guyana, before scoring 68 (his first Test half century) as Australia moved to a 2-0 series lead. In the Fifth Test at Kingston, he struck a century in 78 minutes, despite taking 15 minutes to score his first run. He ended with 121 and took four wickets in the match as Australia won by an innings and took the series 3-0. Benaud had contributed 246 runs at 41 and taken wickets steadily to total 18 at 26.94, averages which were in line with those of specialist batsmen and bowlers.

During the 1956 tour to England, he helped Australia to its only victory in the Lord’s Test, when he scored a rapid 97 in the second innings in 143 minutes from only 113 balls. His fielding, in particular at gully and short leg, was consistently of a high standard, in particular his acrobatic catch to dismiss Colin Cowdrey. He was unable to maintain the standards he had set in the West Indies, contributing little apart from the Lord’s Test. He ended the series with 200 runs at 25 and eight wickets at 42.5.