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Cricketers on their idols

John Traicos on Richie Benaud

The full Richie

The epitome of the attacking spirit

Nagraj Gollapudi

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Benaud bowls in the nets on the 1956 tour of England © PA Photos

Growing up in Rhodesia, my brother Tyke and I were very passionate about cricket. The South African team had quite a few players who we followed closely. Like siblings everywhere, we were competitive about our admiration. He followed Australia, I supported South Africa.

But Richie Benaud captured both our imaginations. Tyke was a legbreak bowler and his hero was always Richie, while for me initially it was someone like Jackie McGlew, Trevor Goddard, or one of the other South Africans. But gradually I, too, came to admire Benaud because he was such a tremendous cricketer.

I was ten when he came on Australia's tour of South Africa in 1957-58, at the end of which he went back as a top allrounder. He was the vice-captain then and was made captain the following year, and that made him more special. For a lot of youngsters like me, Benaud epitomised an attacking spirit - both as a batsman and a captain.

I also liked reading the books he wrote. He always focused on the exciting part of the game. At that age I may not really have appreciated how well he wrote, but when I read his books now I understand how good a writer he is. It is like the way he commentates: he is modest, and he doesn't say everything. He leaves you to make up your mind.

As told to Nagraj Gollapudi

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