As the Australian cricket team begin their historic tour of Pakistan, a pair of spin bowling greats have been recognised with the trophy up for grabs named in their honour.
During the three-Test series, Australian and Pakistan will play for the Benaud-Qadir Trophy, named after two late, legendary leg-spinners – Richie Benaud of Australia and Pakistan’s Abdul Qadir.
Richie Benaud was a member of Australia’s first Test team in Pakistan in 1956 – the country’s first ever in Asia – and top scored with a second-innings fifty.
In 1959, he was captain of Australia in what was his first away series as skipper when the Aussies toured Pakistan and claimed a 2-0 series win.
Benaud, who passed away aged 84 in 2015, played 63 Tests for Australia, taking 248 wickets at an average of 27.03.
He also scored 2,201 runs with the bat at 24.45.
After he retired, Benaud became one of the great broadcasters of world cricket and was affectionally known as ‘the voice of cricket’ in Australia.
Benaud’s wife Daphne said her late husband would have felt proud to have the trophy named in his honour.
“I am delighted to give my approval for Richie’s name to be on this trophy alongside that of Abdul Qadir,” she said in a statement.
“Richie had a very high regard for Abdul and the fact that both were leg-spinners has a nice ring to it.”
“I know Richie would be very pleased to approve a trophy the aim of which is not only to enhance Test cricket but also to advance cricket more broadly between these two countries. I wish both sides the very best of luck for the series and I shall be following it with interest.”
Known as a ‘magician’, Qadir was praised for revitalizing the art of leg-spin bowling in 1970s and 80s.
In 2004, Benaud named Qadir as one of his three greatest spin bowlers alongside Shane Warne and Bill O’Reilly when he announced his greatest XI.
Qadir took 236 wickets in 67 Tests for Pakistan, with 45 of those coming in 11 Tests against Australia.
The leg-spinning great played three Test series against Australia, at home in 1982 and 1988 and in Australia in 1983-84 when he claimed a five-wicket haul in that summer’s Boxing Day Test.
Australian Test captain Pat Cummins said he felt proud to lead his team on such a historic tour.
“I think Richie first toured over here over 60 years ago, so it’s got a rich history and just really proud to be over here in Pakistan and just can’t wait for it to start,” Cummins said.
“We really are standing on the shoulders of these greats of the past who helped to grow and popularise the game, and if my team can collect that trophy at the end of this series then it really would be the perfect end to the Test part of this historic tour.”
Pakistan captain Babar Azam said cricket greats such as Benaud and Qadir should be recognised and ‘the game is today healthy, wealthy and strong because of such individuals and their legacy’.
Australia will tour Pakistan for the first time in 24 years and play three Test matches, three ODIs and a T20 international against the host nation.