The article speaks about the great captainship skills of Richie Benaud. He was born in 1930. He captained Australian side in 28 tests in the mid-1950s and early 1960s. Majority of his matches ended in victory due to the wise style of captainship and understanding of cricket.
There had been many great captains who had graced test cricket in the last 100 years. In respect of success, Steve Waugh of Australia, Clive Lloyd of West Indies, Imran Khan of Pakistan, Hansie Cronje were some of the most successful captains.
But if the statistics of the wise captains are examined, Richie Benaud stands out as one of the greatest captains of all times. He played 63 tests and made 2,221 runs. In those tests who captured 248 wickets by bowling his leg spinners. He captained Australia in 28 tests, won 12 of them, lost 4 of them and the other 11 tests ended in draw, with 1 famous tie-test with West Indies.
He captained Australia side in the late 1950s, when Sir Don Bradman had retired from cricket. Stylish Batsman Neil Harvey was his favourite batsman.
He promoted Norman O Neil to 1st down position ahead of Neil Harvey and created surprises. His bowling attack included Alan Davidson, Ian Meckiff and Ray Lindwall. Richie Benaud nurtured their talents. Ray Lindwall took 228 test wickets and used to be considered deadly fast bowler who could reply the sharp bowling of Fred Trueman of England in the late 1950s. Alan Davidson had left-arm diagonal action and surprised the batsmen with his skillful bowling.
The greatness of Richie Benaud was in the context of reading the batsman’s mind, setting his field according to the requirement of the bowlers and understanding the pitches could react. England and West Indies were two tough test teams in those days. Richie Benaud created great challenge before Sir Frank Worrell’s West Indies and Ted Dexter’s England.
In respect of Leg Spin bowling he used to be considered the 2nd greatest leg-spinner of all times with all his variations including googly, top-spinners, flippers, which are used a lot in the modern day test matches. Other than Australia’s Shane Warne, none of the leg spinners of the world have such variations. As a commentator also he showed his great understanding of cricket. He did the job for Channel 9 and used to be considered the best commentator of all times.
In the tied test of 1960, West Indies won the toss and elected to bat. Sir Garyfield Sobers scored 130 runs and West Indies ended with 453 runs in the first innings. Alan Davidson took 5 wickets. Australia is reply scored 505 and Norman O Neill scored 153 runs. In the second innings West Indies were all out for 284 runs. Australia required 233 runs to win the match. But Australia could manage only 232. It was the first tied test ever. While sheer skills of great cricketers of West Indies like Sobers, Kanhai, Hall, Alexander and skills of Davidson, O Neill were at display, Richie Benauds's shrewd captainship stole the show.
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