``Anything But'' - Richie Benaud's autobiography (4 December 1998)

4 December 1998

"Anything But" - Richie Benaud's autobiography

A review by Harold de Andrado

This must be Richie Benaud's tenth book and every one of them has been most readable and most gripping. This is no exception and it is a lucid description of his rich cricketing life, and a great tribute to his wonderful wife Daphne who has done so much for him, as for cricket itself.

Richie Benaud possibly next to Sir Don Bradman has been one of the greatest cricketing personalities as, player, researcher, writer. Critic, author, organiser, adviser and student of the game. In this book he has expressed his opinions of clarity and common sense, restoring form and substance to modern cricket, broadcasting, telecasts and cricket writing. He has an easy cricketing style and a fine sense of humour, with such substantial and valuable contributions to cricket throughout the Cricket World. Whenever one reads a Benaud book there is always one regret that it was not twice as long. Those with any cricketing sense always enjoyed his books; but not only they, but those who loved good prose will revel in every page.

The contents of this book are obviously products of a finely stored mind delightfully and happily written having always the richness of cricket history, with anecdotes of the characters associated with famous matches and illuminating illustrations. He has shown great sympathy for the Sid Barnes episode which saw him dropped most unfairly from the Australian Team in 1952 - 53, which probably cost them the Ashes and the Coronation Series. As Trevor Bailey has admitted, the absence of Barnes and Bruce Dooland made all the difference. Unfortunately Sir Don Bradman was not a Test selector then; but it is not the selectors that Benaud condemns but officialdom especially the Cricket Board members who with the exception of Sir Don had hardly played any cricket.

He himself crossed swords with officialdom both as a captain and during the controversy about his brother John's ripple sole boots. Richie pays particular tribute to his father Lou who was the guiding light of his great cricket prowess and career. As one of the greatest all rounders produced by Australia he was the first in history to get the Double of 2000 runs and 200 wickets.

As a media man I have yet to see another who could capture the atmosphere of a cricket match as well as Richie. It is more often an invaluable assessment as I have always said the hallmark of Richie Benaud's career had been his courage, the same courage which has been stamped on his forthright views of the game. The statistics are there too, but subdued to a rightful place.

Instead of merely stuffing his books full of facts, Benaud always used the facts and filled them with human interests so that the giants of old time rise again in glory and great moderns are seen freshly standing on their native turf. He never forgot the seeds of future greatness, the flowering of which is a pleasurable anticipation for devotees of this immortal game. Benaud wrote as well as he was able to play and displayed his shrewd strategy that made him the greatest captain I have seen in action (I had not seen Sir Don in action). What has amazed me is the variety of cricketing activities he was able to cram into his years. All this woven into his writing and electronic media appearances which is always a mine of good stories, a portrait gallery of famous sportsmen, a survey of changing ideas and conditions in the cricketing world, had much more than ephemaral value. Richie Benaud was a warm and generous friend and I owe much to him for his kindness over the years. He sent me every book he wrote and they are the finest and greatest of its kind in any library. All this and much more from his latest the autobiography "Anything But".

Source :: Daily News (http://www.lanka.net)