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Off the report: Paying tribute to Richie Benaud and OTR’s handy guide to Albany

RICHIE RIGHT ON TARGET

On such a marvellous day as this – Tuesday, 22/2/2022 – it would be rude not to pay tribute to the great Richie Benaud.

It just so happens that Off the Record has a personal story to share about the man whose legacy lives on through his cricketing achievements, commentating career and Billy Birmingham.

It was the winter of 1993 and the Australian cricket team was in England, humiliating the Poms en route to retaining the Ashes.

Back in Australia, OTR’s old man had written to Benaud asking for advice on behalf of his six year-old son, an aspiring legspinner who idolised a rising star named Shane Warne.

A couple of months passed and it seemed the letter would go unanswered.

No worries – expectations had been low, anyway.

But not only did Benaud reply, he even offered his “apologies for not answering sooner”.

“This letter is written after the Trent Bridge Test, where Australia forced a draw at the end of what was a great game of cricket,” he wrote.

Richie Benaud during day four of the Fifth npower Ashes Test match between England and Australia at the Brit Oval on September 11, 2005 in London.
Camera IconRichie Benaud during day four of the Fifth npower Ashes Test match between England and Australia at the Brit Oval on September 11, 2005 in London. Credit: Tom Shaw/Getty Images

When Benaud sat down to pen that letter, OTR’s idol Warne had already taken plenty of wickets in the series – 22, in fact.

But the cricket legend’s words of wisdom brought OTR and his old man back down to earth.

“In my opinion, no child should be allowed to bowl over the wrist spin before he is around 12 years of age because of the extreme strain on ligaments and various muscles,” Benaud wrote.

That advice was flatly ignored.

OTR wanted to keep bowling leggies and his old man probably couldn’t have stopped him – not that he tried.

Ironically, it was in the middle of a cricket game that OTR first dislocated his bowling shoulder.

Two reconstructions and many years later, the shoulder still isn’t right.

To quote Billy Birmingham’s Bill Lawry: “Hail, Richie. Hail, the great man.”

The letter from Richie Benaud.
Camera IconThe letter from Richie Benaud. Credit: Supplied

OTR’S GUIDE TO ALBANY

The borders are about to open, so here’s OTR’s handy guide to Albany ahead of the interstate influx.

  • You will find no traffic lights here, only roundabouts. We like it that way. Once you get past the MCG-sized five-pointer at the entry to the city, you’ll be fine.
  • Keep your eyes peeled for potholes. There are almost as many potholes as there are roundabouts.
  • Avoid the port. Yes, that is an actual working port right there in the CBD.
  • Sunday is a rest day.
  • Albany was the first European settlement in WA. It’s a historic place. If visitors don’t know this, someone will tell them during their stay.
  • Whales are not constantly swimming back and forth across King George Sound, breaching as they go. Try May to October.
  • Albany is home to some of Australia’s best fish and chips stores — and they have the certificates to prove it. In a contest between chippys, customers win.
  • Albany is now also home to Australia’s best beach. Misery Beach just topped Tourism Australia’s rankings for 2022. It’s boring but it’s part of our life.
  • The Anzacs left for World War I from Albany and it’s our responsibility to honour their service.
  • Bluff Knoll and Castle Rock aren’t as easy as you think. They require at least a moderate level of fitness, so spare a thought for our SES volunteers. Mercifully, Bald Head is closed for now.
  • Yes, we’re getting an Aldi. No, it won’t be open on Sundays.
  • The shopping here isn’t a strong point, but did we mention this was WA’s first European settlement?
  • We just got a new waterfront hotel and there’s another one on the way. This will let us accommodate more of you, but we’ll need some time to adjust.
Albany's roundabout has been included in the top ten most dangerous intersections in WA. Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser
Camera IconAlbany’s roundabout has been included in the top ten most dangerous intersections in WA. Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser

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