Melbourne: Cricket Australia (CA) and the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) will pay tribute to the memory of late Richie Benaud with a medal bearing his name to be presented to the player-of-the-series in the current and all future Test series between the two countries, it was announced on Thursday.
The Frank Worrell Trophy, honouring one of the Caribbean community’s finest cricket captains, is already contested between the two nations. Benaud and Worrell are synonymous with Australia-West Indies contests.
As opposing captains in 1960-61 they are credited with reviving Test cricket through a vibrant series which began with the famous tied Test in Brisbane. So popular were the West Indies and so grateful was the Australian public for the spirit in which they played that the touring team was given a motorcade ride through the streets of Melbourne.
Benaud, who died on April 10 last year at the age of 84, claimed 248 wickets from 63 Tests as a leg-spinner, while scoring 2,201 runs. Apart from captaining Australia for around six years, Benaud is also remembered as a celebrated commentator. For many Australian cricketers, he was a godfather and most respected figure after Don Bradman.
Benaud’s family said it was delighted that he would continue to be recognised for his prominent role in cricket.
“Australia’s relationship with the West Indies and his personal friendship with Frank Worrell meant so much to Richie,” said Benaud’s wife Daphne in a CA release. “This is a wonderful honour and we are delighted that his name will forever be linked to series played between the two teams.”
Cricket Australia chief executive officer James Sutherland said it was fitting that the medal will be awarded in Sydney at the end of the third and final Commonwealth Bank Test.
“The Sydney Cricket Ground was Richie’s favourite stage, where he performed many fine feats for New South Wales and Australia,” Sutherland said.
“Richie made an enormous contribution to cricket across almost 70 years and we are delighted that this will continue to be recognised.”
WICB CEO Michael Muirhead commended Benaud for the enormous contribution he made on the field as a player and captain and off it as a broadcaster for half a century.
“The WICB fully supports the initiative and gives full recognition to the impact Richie Benaud had on and off the field for Australia. In his memory we support CA’s efforts to use his legacy to inspire the cricketing world,” Muirhead said.
“The rivalry which existed back then and what we hope to return between Australia and the West Indies will signify the contribution Richie made.”