End of innings for cricket great Richie Benaud

For a man who spent close to half his life commentating cricket, Richie Benaud had a way of making silence seem louder than words.

After dominating on the field, Benaud became the voice of Australian summers for more than three decades. Source: 1 NEWS

The former Australian Test captain and legendary commentator died in his sleep overnight. He was aged 84 and had been battling skin cancer.

A hard-hitting batsman and cunning leg-spinner, Benaud gained widespread acclaim for his work behind the microphone, calling the game with a level of insight and perspective far removed from the hyperbole employed by others.

Sought out by media baron Kerry Packer to front his new World Series Cricket competition in the late 1970s, Benaud forged a reputation for his analysis and wit, and knowing the value of a well-timed silence.

He called more than 200 Test matches for the BBC and Channel 4 in the UK and the brash Channel Nine in Australia, stepping down from overseas commentary work at the age of 74.

While excitement never extended to more than "marvellous" or "glorious", there was enough fodder for comedian Billy Birmingham to sustain a career through his 12th Man series, taking the mickey out of Benaud and his Channel Nine chums Bill Lawry and Tony Greig.

Also known for his line in cream suits, he was just as proud of his writing as his commentary, penning over a dozen books on the sport.

A car accident in 2013 saw him spend a long period convalescing, and he revealed late last year he was undergoing treatment for skin cancer, having shunned hats and sunscreen during his playing days.

He was set to return to commentary for Australia's series with India earlier in the summer, a move that was scrapped due to ongoing poor health.

While modern cricket fans would only remember his commentary, he was a well-regarded player for New South Wales and Australia.

He would arguably struggle to play Test cricket in the modern era based on his figures alone, but his time in the Australian team was a golden era for the game.

Highlights were few and far between in his early career, as he failed to pass 50 or take a five-wicket bag in his first 13 Tests.

He rewarded the faith of selectors, eventually going on to take 248 wickets at 27.03 with his leg-spin.

Handed the captaincy in the late 1950s, he ushered in an attacking style of play, leading Australia to a 4-0 Ashes victory over England in 1958 and then defending it twice in succession.

He was also in charge during the famous tied Test against the West Indies, motivating his side to push for an unlikely victory when the safer option was to try and save the match.