Former Test captain Brian Booth dies, aged 89

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Australia's 31st men's Test captain, Brian Booth, has died aged 89.

Booth, who played 29 Tests for Australia, scored five Test centuries and was a key cog in Australia's batting throughout the early part of the 1960s.

Such was his athleticism, he also represented Australia in hockey at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

But it was in cricket where he made his name with 1773 Test runs at 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.

But at the same time his own batting stumbled and after the hosts were beaten heavily in the second of those matches, Simpson returned to the side and Booth was dropped.

"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."

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."