The cricket world has paid tribute to former Australian Test captain Brian Booth after he died aged 89. Booth was the 31st captain of Australia and played 29 Tests for his nation.
One of the game's most respected figures, Booth will also be remembered as an Olympian having represented Australia in the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games in hockey. During his cricket career, Booth scored five centuries in the baggy green and was an essential player in the early part of the 1960s.
Booth had an impressive record of 1,773 Test runs at an average of 42.21. A stylish middle-order bat, Booth made a century in his first home Test against England in 1962, before scoring another in the next match at the MCG.
He averaged 50.5 as Australia retained the Ashes at home before dominating South Africa the following summer with another two Test tons. The right-hander went on to post solid returns in England in 1964 as Australia again won the Ashes, and was handed the captaincy for two matches in 1965-66 with Bob Simpson out.
However, Booth's role in the team came to an end when his form dipped and the host's lost the second Test match. Simpson returned and Booth was out.
"Captaining Australia was a privilege," Booth said in an interview with the Cricket Monthly in 2013. "Bobby Simpson was the regular captain and broke his arm just prior to the first Test.
"He came back for the second Test in Melbourne and on the eve of the third, in Sydney, Sir Donald Bradman approached me at practice and said, 'Bob has chicken pox, Brian. You're captaining tomorrow'."
Booth's omission prompted Bradman to write to him, telling him he and his colleagues had "disliked" having to go from making him captain to out of the side in the space of three matches. "I don't think he'd ever done that (written to a player) before," Booth said.
"But I understood why. My scores were not good enough. I'd get to double figures in most innings only to get out. At some stage I knew I'd be passed over for someone performing better. Ian Chappell and Keith Stackpole came into the side and were to have great careers."
Cricket world mourns death of Brian Booth
The cricket world was quick to praise Booth's influence on Australian cricket with many hailing his kind nature and personable attitude. Booth was known for walking when he thought he was out and prided himself on his sportsmanship.
Aussie cricket icon Kerry O'Keefe led the tributes for Booth.
Brian Booth has passed away at 89…sad day…long time St George cricket club teammate …av 42 in Tests…quicker hands than David Copperfield…a truly great human…genuine…strong claims to captain Aust “best blokes “ Test eleven…vale Sam 👏👏👏👏
— Kerry O'Keeffe (@kokeeffe49) May 20, 2023
Brian Booth was the finest cricketer I ever met. An honest, decent, caring person who captained his country in cricket and also played for Australia in hockey, he embodied everything special and important about the game. Australian sport is so much poorer for his passing. #RIP
— Geoff Armstrong (@garmstrong61) May 20, 2023
The epidome of the words "sportsman" and "gentleman". I only knew him well enough to say 'G'day Brian ' when I saw him at Hurstville Oval or elsewhere but I he'll be sorely missed by many.
— Trevor Weeding (@TrevorJWeeding) May 20, 2023
Very sad the passing of this highly talented reliable great Australian cricketer 😰 Vale Brian Booth.
— living in awe (@westonnights) May 20, 2023
I once saw a man in the nets hitting a ball with a novelty baseball bat with his granddaughter.
His hand-eye coordination was *incredible*.
I overcame my reticence, said hello, asked if he was Brian Booth.
He said yes, I was thrilled & we chatted briefly.
A very nice memory. https://t.co/SzOiKMYtNq
— Paul Dennett (@PaulDennett_) May 20, 2023
After his cricket career, Booth was later elected as Life Member of the Melbourne Cricket Club, received an MBE from the Queen in 1982 and was inducted into the Cricket NSW Hall of Fame in 2014.
"Brian was immensely respected and admired throughout the cricketing community and beyond and we extend our deepest condolences to his wife Judy and their family and friends," Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley said.
"Less than 50 players have captained the Australian men's Test team and Brian's name is included on a list that features many of the game's greats.
"He has had an extraordinary life and will be sadly missed. His contribution to cricket continues to be an inspiration and will always be remembered."
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