Siddhartha Vaidyanathan on India in Australia 2007-08 January 5, 2008

A master of subtlety

The newly unveiled Richie Benaud statue has obviously been crafted by someone with an eye for detail

The newly unveiled Richie Benaud statue has obviously been crafted by someone with an eye for detail. It's of a dashing young Benaud with his shirt partly unbuttoned, one hand holding a ball, and the other directing a fielder. Steve Waugh has spoken about the shirt - "It shows his flair and individuality" - but it was the field-setting gesture which a few others enjoyed.

Richie's brother, John, played three Tests in the early 1970s but was more renowned as a national selector during Australia's transition phase in the late 1980s and early 1990s. "It's the left hand which is great to see," says John. "Richie was one for subtle gestures. You always needed to keep watching him because he could make a gesture anytime." John goes on to mimic his brother's signals - stealthily moving his hand behind his back and asking a mid-off to go wider. "You never knew when he could come up with these signals because he believed in subtlety."

What did John learn most from his brother? "Boys who grow up in the bush usually have a fine temperament," he says, "and Richie symbolised that. We learnt a lot while growing up - through fires, droughts and other hardships - and benefited from that experience later in life."

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is a former assistant editor at Cricinfo

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