Sydney, April 10: Former Australian captain Richie Benaud, considered the "voice of cricket" for his inimitable style of commentary, passed away in his sleep aged 84.
Benaud, who was battling skin cancer and had survived a major car accident in 2013, reportedly died peacefully while asleep last night. The former cricketer, who was the first to score 2,000 Test runs and take 200 Test wickets, played 63 five-day matches in his career.
Benaud took 248 wickets at an average of 27.03 and scored 2201 runs at 24.45 per innings with 122 being his highest knock.
"A sad day for Australia. We have lost a cricketing champion and Australian icon. What an innings. RIP Richie Benaud," Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott tweeted and declared that Benaud would be accorded a state funeral.
The Australian flag would also fly at half mast during Benaud's funeral. The BCCI paid tribute to the legendary former player saying, "The world of cricket has not just lost a voice but a true legend in every sense...RIP Richie Benaud, you will be missed."
Benaud captained Australia in 28 Tests and the team did not lose a single series under his leadership. Tributes poured in for the iconic cricketer-turned-commentator with Australian captain Michael Clarke being among the first to pay homage.
"My vintage, we grew up with that voice. He was a great player and a great captain. A wonderful leader of men and he continued that off the field," Clarke told 'Channel Nine', where Benaud spent most of his broadcast career.
"He loved winning. He helped the Australian team have the attitude where they wanted to win. He played the game the right way."
"Great Man ... Great Cricketer... Greatest ever Sports Commentator....," tweeted former England captain Michael Vaughan. Cricketers -- current and former -- from around the world, also paid tribute to Benaud on social media.
"Cricket has just lost one of the legends,cricket on TV won't sound the same http://anymore.RIP Richie Benaud," said Indian spinner R Ashwin.
"#RIP Richie your voice will live on in our hearts. Condolences goes out to his family and friends," tweeted West Indies' Darren Sammy Former Indian captain Bishan Singh Bedi lauded Benaud's style of commentary. "...his commentary was based on 'silence is golden on TV' camera is talking!!"
Australian pacer Mitchell Johnson said Benaud would be missed. "A truly great person, you will always be remembered for what you gave to this world. R.I.P Richie," he tweeted. Australian spin legend Shane Warne described Benaud as a close friend.
"As a cricketer, commentator and as a person, you were the best there's ever been and to top it off, an absolute gentleman," he said.
"For me it was an honour and a privilege to call you a close friend and mentor, we had so many wonderful times together, talking cricket and in particular, our love and passion of leg spin bowling."