Richie Benaud


Richie Benaud : biography

6 October 1930 –

On his third and final tour to England in 1961, he was hampered by damaged tendons in his right shoulder, which forced him to miss the Second Test at Lord’s known as the "Battle of the Ridge". In all he missed a third of the matches due to injury. Despite this impairment to his bowling shoulder, his team played with an aggressive strategy leading them to lose only one Test match and no other matches during the tour, honouring his pre-series pledge. The First Test at Edgbaston was drawn with Benaud taking three wickets. After Harvey led the team to victory at Lord’s, Benaud had an unhappy return in the Third at Headingley scoring two runs in two innings and taking match figures of 2/108 as Australia lost within three days.Benaud, p. 194. With the series balanced at 1-1, the Fourth Test at Old Trafford initially brought no improvement, with Benaud scoring 2 and taking 0/80 in the first innings. He made 1 in the second before a last-wicket partnership between Davidson and Graham McKenzie of 98 yielded a defendable target. During England’s chase on the final afternoon it became apparent that, with Ted Dexter scoring quickly, Australia would lose the Test unless England were bowled out. Benaud went around the wicket and bowled into the footmarks, having Dexter caught behind and then Peter May bowled around his legs. Benaud’s 5/13 in 25 balls instigated an English collapse which saw Australia retain the Ashes. He finished the innings with 6/70. Benaud then took four wickets in the drawn Fifth Test to end the series 2–1. Benaud had a poor series with the bat, scoring 45 runs at 9 and taking 15 wickets at 32.53. He finished the first-class tour with 627 runs and 61 wickets at 23.54. He was awarded an OBE in that year and in 1962 was named as one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year.

The 1961/62 Australian season was purely a domestic one, with no touring international team. Benaud led New South Wales throughout a dominant season, winning the Sheffield Shield with 64 of the 80 possible points. Benaud was the leading wicket-taker of the season with 47 at 17.97. His aggressive tactical style brought large crowds throughout the season, with 18,000 watching one match against South Australia. In another match against Victoria, he ordered his team to attempt to score 404 on the final day to take an unlikely victory in accordance with a promise to score at 400 per day. At one stage, New South Wales were six wickets down with less than 150 runs scored, but Benaud refused to attempt to defend for a draw. He made 140, in a seventh-wicket partnership of 255 in just 176 minutes, an Australian record that still stands.

1962–63 saw an English team under Dexter visit Australia. Fred Trueman with 216 Test wickets and Brian Statham with 229 were poised to overtake the record of 236 Test records set by the assistant-manager Alec Bedser. Benaud was another contender with 219 wickets, but it was Statham who broke the record (only to be overtaken by Trueman in New Zealand) and Benaud had to be content with breaking Ray Lindwall’s Australian record of 228 Test wickets. In an early tour match Benaud took his best first class innings haul of 18-10-18-7 for New South Wales against the MCC, which lost by an innings and 80 runs, the state’s biggest win against the English team. Benaud started the series with seven wickets and a half century as the First Test in Brisbane was drawn. This was followed by three unproductive Tests which yielded only 5/360 and a win apiece. Benaud returned to form with match figures of 5/142 and 57 in the Fifth Test at Sydney, which ended in a painful draw when Benaud ordered Bill Lawry and Peter Burge to play out the last afternoon for a draw that would retain the Ashes. They were booed and heckled as they left the field and Benaud’s reputation as a "go ahead" cricket captain was badly tanished.pp127-129, E.W. Swanton, Swanton in Australia, with MCC 1946-1975, Fontana, 1977pp. 157-158, A.G. Moyes and Tom Goodman, With the M.C.C. in Australia 1962-63, A Critical Story of the Tour, The Sportsmans Book Club, 1965 The draw meant that the series was shared 1-1, the first time he had drawn a series after five successive wins. It was another lean series with the ball, Benaud’s 17 wickets costing 40.47, the third consecutive series where his wickets cost more than 30. His batting was reliable, with 227 runs at 32.47.