Monthly Archives: August 2019

How Benaud helped save cricket 

At tea on the last day of the tied Test in December 1960, Richie Benaud and Alan Davidson were sitting with their pads on outside the dressing room at the Gabba with the future of the match in their hands.

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In some ways, so was the future of Test cricket.

The two allrounders were in the middle of an extraordinary partnership after Australia had slumped to 6-92 in pursuit of 233 against the West Indies.

Don Bradman walked up and asked Benaud what his intentions were.

“We’re going for the win, of course,” the Australian captain replied.

“Excellent,” said Bradman, a selector and chairman of the Australian board.

Benaud’s attitude was more than mere bravado.

Batting out time for a draw might have been the prudent course of action, but this was a series unlike any that had preceded it.

Test cricket had ossified in the 1950s through stodgy batting and negative tactics, and the game was in danger of dying.

Before the 1960-61 series, Bradman took Benaud aside and urged him to do what he could to inject some life and spirit into the game.

For Benaud, by nature an attacking player and captain, this was all the encouragement he needed.

A month earlier, he had walked onto the tarmac at Kingsford-Smith airport to greet the arriving captain Frank Worrell, the first black man appointed as full-time West Indies captain.

There and then, they agreed to play bright, attacking cricket throughout the summer, and what resulted is considered perhaps the most exciting Test series to be played. It might also be the most important.

From a seemingly hopeless position at the Gabba, Benaud and Davidson took Australia to the brink of victory.

“When we were walking off for tea, Richie said to me: ‘We’ve got a chance of winning this’,” Davidson recalled on Friday.

For the sake of the game, it was better that they didn’t.

Australia lost the last three wickets in the final over and the match was a tie – the first in Test history.

Davidson, 85, has no doubt the way Benaud and Worrell played the game changed the course of cricket.

“It opened the world for cricket,” Davidson said.

“There were two captains who had similar thoughts. They wanted the game to be played in the right spirit, but it was very competitive,” he told AAP.

“There was never any animosity towards anyone.

“After the match finished, we all sat in the dining room – Australian player, West Indies player, Australian player and so on – like we were old friends, even though this was the first Test match we played.”

Davidson, who first played against Benaud when they were schoolboys, said he was privileged to play under such a captain.

“It was a great thing for me. Richie believed in taking the initiative and keeping it, which was the way I wanted to play myself.

“He inspired people to take up the challenge themselves and not to be afraid of failing.”

Current Test captain Michael Clarke credits Benaud with creating the winning culture that led to Australia becoming the most dominant force in world cricket.

“He loved winning,” Clarke told the Nine Network.

“He helped the Australian team have the attitude where they wanted to win. He played the game the right way.

“He was great player and a great captain, a wonderful leader of men”.

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Posted on 07/08/2019 / Posted by admin

AOC backs Queensland Olympic bid study 

The Australian Olympic Committee has thrown its weight behind a possible Queensland bid to host the 2028 Olympic Games.

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A group of south-east Queensland mayors have launched a study to decide whether Brisbane should bid for the Games.

AOC President John Coates on Friday committed to support the study.

“We look forward to working with you on this project of national and international significance,” Coates said in a letter to the Mayors of South-East Queensland group.

Brisbane and surrounds don’t have to formally register hosting interest, which needs AOC endorsement, until January 2019.

The Mayors of South-East Queensland group in March passed a resolution to explore the potential for a regional bid for the 2028 Games.

Coates advised the group to complete its feasibility study by the end of next year.

And if they wanted to bid, they would then need to secure federal and state government support, and backing from sport and business sectors, in early 2017 before the AOC could consider the bid in the latter half of that year.

Coates said the study should “clearly demonstrate all of the benefits for your region and residents”.

The International Olympic Committee will later this year release a new framework for hosting an Olympic Games and also a Host City Contract for the 2024 Games.

“It will be an important guide for you,” Coates told the mayors in his letter.

“In your study you should recognise the elements for the two different budgets related to the organisation of the Olympic Games: long-term investment in infrastructure and return on such investment on the one hand, and the operational budget on the other.”

The key to minimising the infrastructure budget was to focus on using existing and temporary and demountable venues, while the IOC would contribute around $1.5 billion to the operational budget, Coates said.

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Australia’s ‘voice of cricket’ Richie Benaud 

Silence, but for the crack of leather on willow and the roar of the crowd, was golden.

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Even as cricket commercialized, filling gaps in play with sponsors’ advertising, piped-in music and other presumptuous forms of ‘entertainment’, Benaud liked nothing more than for the game to speak for itself.

“Put your brain into gear and if you can add to what’s on the screen then do it, otherwise shut up,” said Benaud of his simple approach to calling the game in a 50-year career in radio and television.

Interventions, however, are eventually inevitable, a necessary relief from the suffocating buildup of ‘dead air’ in live coverage.

Benaud would prove more adept than most at the delicate art of timing, of inserting the golden phrase that would perfectly illuminate the joy, and agony, of a wicket, or the sheer embarrassment of a cricketer flummoxed by an opponent.

“Gatting has absolutely no idea what has happened to it. Still doesn’t know,” Benaud chimed during the Ashes test in 1993, as the England captain trudged off after being bowled by legspinner Shane Warne’s so-called “ball of the century”.

Timely interventions were a hallmark of Benaud’s career as a hugely successful captain and later a leading architect of World Series cricket in the 1970s, a breakaway circuit that changed the game forever.

Though often credited as the most influential figure in post-war cricket, Benaud’s economy of words was at its most parsimonious when speaking of his achievements.

For a man who began his media career as a police reporter and later a sports writer, Benaud famously shunned interviews, believing the spotlight should shine brightest on the players.

He cut his teeth on a daily paper in Sydney, even as he sought to cement his place in Australia’s national team as a leg-spinning all-rounder.

THAT DISTINCTIVE VOICE

Regarded as a rare but somewhat infuriating talent, Benaud toiled on the fringes for much of the 1950s, and after his team went home defeated from the 1956 Ashes series, he stayed on to train with the BBC as a broadcaster, hedging his bets lest his time in cricket proved shorter than hoped.

Some eight years later, Benaud would play the last of his 63 tests at home against South Africa having made over 2,000 runs and taken over 200 wickets, unbeaten in any series in his 28 matches as captain.

Tactically astute and aggressive in his approach, Benaud’s captaincy would be credited with rescuing the game from torpor in the 1950s and setting a benchmark for a succession of attacking Australian skippers, from the Chappell brothers to Michael Clarke.

Benaud’s heyday as player and captain came as Australia took on Frank Worrell’s West Indies in 1960-61, when the teams fought a classic series that included a first tied test.

He would move seamlessly from BBC radio to the broadcaster’s television coverage at the end of his playing career, starting an uninterrupted 42-year stint on British screens.

His distinctive voice lent credibility to Australian tycoon Kerry Packer’s World Series, which reinvigorated the game with the popularisation of one-day cricket, enriching players, boards and broadcasters.

As host of Australian broadcaster Channel Nine’s coverage for decades, Benaud’s wit, catch phrases and succession of off-white blazers inspired countless parodies from comedians and fans.

He enjoyed the jokes, but loathed it when companies tried to cash in on his appeal by imitating his voice or using Benaud impersonators to sell their products.

Fair play was paramount for Benaud both on and off the field. Punches, when warranted, were rarely pulled.

After a car crash near his Sydney home in 2013, Benaud was unable to take his spot in the Channel Nine commentary box and his public appearances became rare and fleeting.

He announced that he had skin cancer in November with typical understatement.

Weeks later, his voice, quavering but clear, rang out over the Adelaide Oval in a short but poignant video tribute to Australia batsman Phillip Hughes, who died at the age of 25 after being struck by a ball.

Benaud died peacefully late on Thursday, surrounded by family at a Sydney hospice.

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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Lake denies Clark sledge in AFL 

Hawthorn key defender Brian Lake has strongly denied sledging Mitch Clark over the Geelong forward’s depression during their Easter Monday AFL clash.

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The Hawks contacted their rivals after Geelong captain Joel Selwood raised the allegation on Thursday night’s edition of The Footy Show.

Hawthorn are not revealing the player’s name, but media outlets on Friday afternoon said it was Lake.

“We are of the firm belief that Brian has not said anything in relation to Mitch Clark or to Mitch Clark,” the Herald Sun quoted Lake’s manager Marty Pask as saying.

“That’s plain and simple. That’s where it lies.”

It is a particularly delicate issue for the two clubs, given they play annually for the Beyond Blue Cup.

Former Hawthorn club president Jeff Kennett is chairman of beyondblue, which aims to raise awareness of anxiety and depression.

Kennett said if the allegation is true, he expects a public apology.

But he also stressed that at the moment, nothing had been proved.

Given Kennett’s role at beyondblue, Hawthorn chief executive Stuart Fox has kept him informed of the issue.

When the Hawks contacted Geelong, they were given a name and it is understood the player has denied the allegation vehemently.

“I have said to Stuart … if anything like that was said, I would be terribly disappointed,” Kennett told AAP.

“If it’s found that someone has made those comments, I would expect a public apology.

“But at the moment, we have an accusation – apparently no one else heard it; no one else was there.

“I don’t know where you take it from there.”

Hawthorn said in a club statement on Friday they had reminded their players the club did not condone any sort of on-field vilification.

“We have found it difficult to get clarity on what was said and by whom,” the Hawks said.

“However, both clubs agree that any comments made regarding a person’s mental health issues are completely inappropriate and out of bounds on the footy field.”

Clark has returned to the AFL with Geelong after spending 12 months out of the game because of clinical depression.

Earlier on Friday, AFL football operations manager Mark Evans said the league had not received any complaints from Clark or Geelong.

Geelong host Fremantle on Sunday and Dockers coach Ross Lyon said the sledging allegations were not a focus for his team.

“I saw the headline and I am not interested in the detail. I can’t speak to that,” he said.

“As an opposition coach, we want to minimise his effectiveness as a power forward.

“It’s all hearsay – just because it’s in the media doesn’t make it right or accurate.”

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