Article, 2003

Richie Benaud's favourite Tests ...

Richie Benaud

From a personal point of view: England v Australia, Old Trafford, 1961. "Otherwise life might have been very different." Bowling his leg-breaks round the wicket into the rough, he took five for 12 off 25 balls on the last afternoon, to turn the match and help regain the Ashes.

As a game: Australia v West Indies, Brisbane, 1960-61 - the Tied Test. "Frank Worrell was at Sydney airport on his way to Perth to join his team. He had been delayed by a seafood allergy and Alan Barnes, the board secretary, phoned me at the Sun to say his plane was about to land and perhaps I might want to interview him. We had a good chat and as he was turning to walk to the plane I said, 'I hope it's a great series.' He came back, smiled and replied, 'Well, we'll have a lot of fun anyway.'

"Then there was the matter of Bradman asking permission to speak at our team meeting the night before the game. I checked with the players and told him that was fine. His was a very short address, but of extreme importance and unique in Australian cricket. It was a personal message to the effect that we had the chance to make this one of the greatest summers in Australian history, after some ordinary ones. He and his co-selectors, Jack Ryder and Dudley Seddon, would look in kindly fashion on players who had as their priority the entertainment of the people paying at the turnstiles. And in less kindly fashion on those who didn't.

"This fitted in with our pre-series planning, but it was comforting to know that the selectors were thinking that way and by the time the motorcade farewell had taken place in Melbourne after the final Test, the face of cricket had been changed for ever in Australia."

From the commentary box: England v Australia, Headingley, 1981. "The sheer drama of it all. Botham sacked, Brearley recalled, England following on and then winning, booking out of their hotel a day early, Ladbrokes' 500-1, England 221 for their last three wickets, Botham's 149, Willis eight for 43. A commentator's dream match for Jim Laker and me."

© John Wisden & Co