Former Australia captain Richie Benaud, the voice of cricket for millions of television viewers, said he was being treated for skin cancer in his first public appearance in more than a year.

The 84-year-old, who led Australia to three successive Ashes series victories in the 1950s and 1960s, said he was undergoing radiation therapy for cancers on his head.

"I'm coping with it very well, the doctors are pleased," Benaud said at an event organised by broadcaster Channel Nine at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

"I'm going along slowly. The cancers need to be treated. I recommend to everyone they wear protection on their heads. When I was a kid, we never ever wore a cap. I wish I had. You live and learn as you go along."

The occurrence of skin cancer in Australia is one of the highest in the world, as much as three times the rates in Britain, the US and Canada, according to Cancer Council Australia.

Benaud has been out of the public eye since crashing his car into a low wall as he drove to his home in the Sydney beachside suburb of Coogee last October.

While his ill-health meant he missed Australia's 5-0 sweep in the last Ashes series, he was represented at the Sydney Test by dozens of fans dressed up in silver wigs and beige suits waving oversize Channel Nine microphones.

Source: Reuters