Richie Benaud, former Australian cricket captain and legendary cricket commentator has died aged 84.
He was the first to achieve 2,000 runs and 200 wickets at Test level, and was one of cricket’s most successful captains never losing a Test series when he captained Australia. After retiring, he became even better known as a commentator as well as an author and journalist. He played in or called over 500 Tests, amounting to almost a third that took place during his lifetime. A legend who has been an integral part of Australian culture.
I grew up with Richie Benaud in my living room every summer, just like every other Australian (and plenty of other cricket fans throughout the world). He also worked for the BBC from 1960 to 1999. He passed his love of the game on to countless generations with his immense knowledge and way with words.
He had a succinct commentary style. His restrained way with words is a great lesson in how to communicate clearly, and not just for budding commentators.
He advised to “learn the value of economy with words and never insult the viewer by telling them what they can already see.” If you’re writing, heed his advice and don’t insult your reader by telling then what they already know. He also suggested avoiding clichés.
On using exaggerated descriptions he said, “The Titanic was a tragedy, the Ethiopian drought a disaster, and neither bears any relation to a dropped catch.” Unlike other commentators who commonly overly praise with adjectives and superlatives, if Richie Benaud said “That’s one of the best catches I’ve seen” you believed his simple sincerity (and you wouldn’t hear him say it perhaps until the following year).
He valued the relationship he had with his listeners – “What I want most from being a television commentator is to be able to feel that, when I say something, I am talking to friends.” If you consider and value your audience, your communication will be sincere and have a much better effect.
And for someone who could have filled his commentary with anecdotes of his legendary past, he chose not to focus on himself. Instead he kept the focus on what was currently important, what was happening right in that moment.
In his own words, Richie Benaud was “absolutely marvellous”. An Aussie icon who will be greatly missed.