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Commentator Benaud fighting skin cancer

SYDNEY: Legendary cricket commentator Richie Benaud revealed Monday he is battling skin cancer and is undergoing radiation therapy, but said he was coping well.

The 84-year-old former Australian captain made his illness public at the Nine Network’s launch for its Australian summer cricket coverage, saying he was receiving treatment for skin cancers on his forehead and the top of his head.

“I’m coping with it very well — the doctors are pleased,” he said. “I’m going along slowly. The cancers need to be treated.”

Benaud, a much-loved figure in Australian cricket, urged people to take precautions to protect themselves from the sun.

“I recommend to everyone they wear protection on their heads,” he said. “Eighty-four-year olds don’t seem to mend as well as they used to.

“When I was a kid, we never ever wore a cap. I wish I had. You live and learn as you go along,” he added.

Benaud attended the Nine Network launch at the Sydney Cricket Ground with its broadcast team, including former cricketers Bill Lawry, Ian Chappell, Mark Nicholas, Brett Lee and Shane Warne.

Benaud, who has worked in the commentary box since retiring from Test cricket in 1964, has been out of action since suffering chest and shoulder injuries during a car crash in Sydney late last year.

He said he was still recovering from the injuries which included two fractured vertebrae.

It prevented him calling a single ball during the Ashes series against England last southern summer, and he has only just returned to work with the television network.

However, Benaud confirmed he would make a return to commentate on Australia’s fourth Test against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground in his home town, starting on January 3.

“Progress is slow,” he said. “I’ve been doing a lot of walking. We (with wife Daphne) are out every morning, doing 40-minute walks every morning and it’s showing beneficial effects.”

Famed for his beige jackets and engaging commentary, Benaud made his broadcasting debut on BBC Radio in 1960, moved across to BBC Television three years later, and became a full-time cricket journalist and commentator when his playing career ended.

He hung up the microphone for British television following the 2005 Ashes series, and has been working for Nine since 1977.-AFP

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