Former Australia captain and legendary cricket commentator Richie Benaud has died at the age of 84.
A pioneering leg-spin bowler, Benaud played in 63 Tests, 28 as captain, before retiring in 1964 to pursue a career in journalism and broadcasting.
His final commentary in England came during the 2005 Ashes series, but he continued to work for Channel Nine in Australia until 2013.
In November, he revealed he was being treated for skin cancer.
Cricket Australia chairman Wally Edwards said Benaud was “the iconic voice of our summer”, while the Australian government has offered to hold a state funeral.
Benaud enjoyed a long association with the BBC following his first radio appearance for the corporation in 1960.
“Richie was not just a great cricket commentator, he was one of the finest sports commentators of his generation,” said Barbara Slater, Director of BBC Sport.
“He was an integral part of the BBC team for decades and will be sorely missed by everyone who had the pleasure of working with him.”
Benaud built his reputation as a commentator following an outstanding playing career in which he took 945 wickets in 259 first-class matches and made 11,719 first-class runs, scoring 23 centuries at an average of 36.50.
Tributes have been pouring in from around the world following the news of Benaud’s death.
Shane Warne, Australia’s record wicket-taker, made a particularlyheartfelt contribution.
“Dear Richie, you were a legend on all levels and rightly so too,” said Warne. “As a cricketer, commentator and as a person, you were the best there’s ever been and, to top it off, an absolute gentleman.”
Australia Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Benaud’s passing was “a sad day for Australia”, adding: “We have lost a cricketing champion and Australian icon. What an innings. RIP Richie Benaud.”
Former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott said: “Farewell Richie Benaud. Wonderful cricketer, great captain, a master craftsman commentator and top man. Will always be remembered and admired.”
Sri Lanka wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara added: “So sad to hear about the passing of Richie Benaud. The great voice of cricket is no more. He defined an era with conviction and sincerity.”
England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke said cricket had “lost perhaps its greatest advocate and someone who was a true giant of the modern game”.
Benaud was the first man to achieve 2,000 runs and 200 wickets at Test level. He was also a highly regarded tactician and never lost a Test series as Australia captain, winning five and drawing two.
After such an impressive playing career, he became even better known as a prolific author, columnist and commentator on cricket.
After the 1956 Ashes tour in England, he completed a BBC training course while still a player, marking the beginning of a 40-year association with the corporation.
His first BBC radio commentary came in 1960, followed by his first television appearance three years later.
With his mellifluous, light delivery, enthusiastically imitated by comedians and cricket fans alike, Benaud also became the lead commentator on Australian television’s Channel Nine from 1977.
At the age of 83, he crushed two vertebrae when his 1963 Sunbeam vintage sports car hit a brick wall near his home in Coogee, Sydney.
Benaud often spoke of a return to commentary but, to the great sadness of his legions of admirers, it did not materialise.
Benaud, who was appointed OBE in 1961 for services to cricket, leaves a wife of 48 years, Daphne, and two children from his first marriage.