Richie Benaud: Shane Warne pays tribute to cricket's 'Godfather'
Richie Benaud was like "The Godfather" of cricket, according to Australia's record wicket-taker Shane Warne.
Warne has joined in the wealth of tributes from around the world to his "close friend and mentor" Benaud, who died aged 84 on Thursday.
A leg-spinning all-rounder, Benaud played 63 Tests and later became an acclaimed broadcaster.
"He was above the Prime Minister in Australia, people loved him worldwide," said fellow leg-spinner Warne.
"We've got Dame Edna Everage and Russell Crowe we've adopted from New Zealand, and Kylie, but Richie is pretty close to number one as an Australian icon," added Warne.
"To me, he was like The Godfather of cricket - he was the Marlon Brando of cricket.
"When you heard Richie's voice, you thought 'it's summer', no matter what country you were in."
The Australian government has offered to hold a state funeral for Benaud, who was the first player to reach both 2,000 runs and 200 wickets in Tests and never lost a series as captain of his country.
He became an iconic voice of cricket, with his final commentary in England at the 2005 Ashes series. He continued to work in Australia until 2013.
In November, Benaud revealed he was being treated for skin cancer.
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"He loved leg-spin bowling, and we had many dinners over a few glasses of red wine where we talked about leg-spin over the course of 30 years," added Warne, whose tally of 708 Test wickets is second only to Muttiah Muralitharan.
"He was a great man, a gentleman, a wonderful cricketer and the number one commentator there has ever been, no-one will ever be as good as Richie.
"Don Bradman was the greatest cricketer to ever play the game, bar none, but I'd go as close to saying that Richie has been nearly more influential than Bradman in the way he played, and the way he commentated."