PRIME Minister Tony Abbott is describing the loss of Richie Benaud overnight as "the greatest loss of cricket since the loss of Don Bradman".

Mr Abbott said the Benaud family have now been offered a state funeral for Richie, best known as Australia's voice of cricket.

The PM paid tribute to the beloved broadcaster this morning while at Amberley, outside of Ipswich in south-east Queensland.

Full statement from the Prime Minister on Richie Benaud's passing:

Today, Australia has lost an icon.

Richie Benaud OBE was part of all our lives.

To most Australians Richie Benaud was cricket.  He personified its traditions and its values.

While many Australians only know Richard Benaud as the voice of cricket, we should not forget that in his day he was a cricketer with few equals.  It was why he was so insightful as a commentator.

As a player his record has withstood the test of time.  He led the Australian side from 1958/59 through to 1963/1964, never losing a series in his 28 Tests as captain.

As captain, he was first to lead a full Australian tour to India and Pakistan in 1959/60.

He was the first cricketer to reach a Test double of 2,000 runs and 200 wickets.

Given the special place Richie Benaud has in our national life, I have asked that on the day of his funeral flags fly at half-mast.

I extend my condolences and the condolences of the Australian people, to his wife Daphne and his family and friends.





Benaud "part of the Australian psyche", dead at 84

CHANNEL Nine has paid tribute to the man who shone from inside their commentary box.

Nine entertainment chief David Gyngell described Richie as "part of the Australian psyche".

"Richie is a true legend not only to all the people who knew him, but to the many millions who didn't. Which speaks volumes," he said.

"Since way back in 1977 Richie has been a much loved member of the Nine family. More than that, he sat at the head of our table.

"We shall miss him dearly, but we'll forever treasure his indelible memory and all the marvellous values for which he stood.

"Cricket is very much the richer for Richie Benaud's lifelong engagement. And so are we all.  Our deepest sympathies go to Daphne and Richie's family.

"Richie Benaud's passing has robbed us not only of a national treasure, but a lovely man."

Nine's head of sport, Steve Crawley, described Richie as the "best in the business bar none".

"You didn't have to know Richie to love him. Everything about him," he said.

"We will miss him the way you miss loved ones. 

"And at the same time we will thank our lucky stars he came our way at all."


Cricket icon Richie Benaud dead at 84

CRICKET icon Richie Benaud, who distinguished himself first as a leg-spinning all-rounder, then as a daring Australian Test captain and later as the 'voice of cricket' in the commentary box, has died at the age of 84.

Benaud's skills, drive and determination took him to the top on and off the cricket field, and made him one of Australia's most recognised people, instantly identifiable simply as Richie.

He played 63 Tests for Australia, was the first player to score 2,000 Test runs and take 200 Test wickets, and never lost a series as Australian captain.

After hanging up his Baggy Green cap, he spent more than four decades as the king of cricket commentators, a man viewed around the world as one of the best callers, watchers and analysts of the game - and perhaps its best ambassador as well.

Benaud died after a battle with skin cancer.

Read more at ABC News

Enjoy a classic tribute to the man himself, with Twelfth Man's "Marvellous" below:

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