Former Australia cricket captain and renowned commentator Richie Benaud has died, aged 84.
Benaud, arguably the most influential Australian cricketer post-World War II, had been fighting skin cancer.
Benaud died overnight in his sleep, the Nine Network reported.
“Richie Benaud’s passing has robbed us not only of a national treasure but a lovely man,” Nine Network CEO David Gyngell said in a statement.
“Richie earned the profound and lasting respect of everyone across the world of cricket and beyond. First as an outstanding player and captain, then as an incomparable commentator and through it all, as a wonderful human being.”
Australian Test captain Michael Clarke said Benaud was a gentleman who played cricket in the right spirit.
“He was a great player and a great captain; a wonderful leader of men and he continued that off the field,” Clarke told the Nine Network.
“He loved winning. He helped the Australian team have the attitude where they wanted to win. He played the game the right way.”
Watch some classic action of Richie playing for Australia
A veteran of 63 Test matches, Benaud played a pivotal role in the formation of World Series Cricket in the 1970s and was one of the world’s most recognised commentators, anchoring the Nine Network’s cricket coverage for decades.
The Penrith-born Benaud enjoyed a remarkable Test career as a wily leg-spin bowler and middle-order batsman which ended with his retirement in 1964.
Benaud was the first player to score 2,000 Test runs and take 200 Test wickets yet was as much renowned for his captaincy – he never lost a Test series as Australian captain.
After retiring, Benaud became a commentary icon initially with the BBC in England and later in his native Australia.
He was the mainstay in Australian cricket television commentary until the past two summers – a car accident in 2013 sidelined him before he announced in November last year that he was fighting skin cancer.
“When I was a kid we never ever wore a cap … because Keith Miller never wore a cap, ” Benaud said at the time.
“If I knew, when I was at school and playing in my early cricket days, the problems that would have come if I didn’t do something about protection of the head and using sunscreens and all sorts of things like that, I’d have played it differently.
“It’s one of those things in life: you live and learn as you go along.”
Benaud did, however, manage to voice a touching tribute to Phillip Hughes, who died when struck by a bouncer last November, which was screen before Australia’s Test series against India last December.
Watch below when Richie was inducted into the Cricket Hall Of Fame in 2007.