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To generations Richie Benaud was an astute observer of cricket, a fixture of television coverage. Behind the public façade was a charming man whose modesty and firmness of opinion dictated that no one would write his official biography—and no friend of his should help an unofficial biographer.
In Benaud, Brian Matthews offers a personal appreciation of Richie Benaud: the dashing exponent of leg spin, innovative captain and prolific writer about the game, but also the intensely private individual. From backyard games in the 1950s and an encounter at Old Trafford to Benaud’s heyday in the commentary box—via the Benaud family home in Parramatta and ancestral home in France—Matthews traces the contours in the life of one of the greats.
Brian Matthews is an unreconstructed St Kilda supporter who’s spent too much of his life at sporting grounds pursuing truth and victory. His books include Louisa, a life of Louisa Lawson; the autobiography A Fine and Private Place; and Manning Clark: A Life. He is an honorary professor of English at Flinders University, a winner of the ALS Gold Medal and a Eureka Street contributor.
‘A character does emerge from the pages of this eccentric undertaking, a man who was reticent but sincere, who inspired loyalty and gave it, who knew the boundaries of his world and didn’t step outside them.’ Martin Flanagan, Age
‘A natural writer.’ Peter Craven
‘Matthews’ comic and melancholic tone is pitch perfect.’ Matthew Condon
‘A character does emerge from the pages of this eccentric undertaking, a man who was reticent but sincere, who inspired loyalty and gave it, who knew the boundaries of his world and didn’t step outside them.’
‘In future years when I am asked what I was doing when Donald Trump was elected President, I shall have a ready answer. I was reading Brian Matthews’ splendid reflection on Richie Benaud…a writer’s and a cricket lover’s tribute.’
‘A vivid portrait…A fascinating read for all cricket fans.’
‘A beguiling and personal tribute…a compelling story brilliantly retold.’
‘Joyfully written and heartfelt anecdotes, insights and stories…A cracking read…The young Benaud who stares so intently from the front cover of this excellent book would be extremely pleased with the result of the efforts of Brian Matthews in producing this fine personal appreciation of him and no doubt would have no trouble finding an appropriate word or two to show his pleasure for it, I think, along the lines of “a marvellous book this, marvellous”.’
‘Effortlessly controlled and graceful…A far more satisfying work than most authorised biographies…To think of this as sports writing is to miss the point. When Matthews talks about Benaud’s disciplined dedication to his craft he is also talking about the dedication required to learn any art. Like the best cricket writing, it is about more than cricket. And highly accessible: Matthews is such a natural that the simplicity of the writing is beguiling. He’s a writer with real judgment.’