11 February, 2016. 15:45
IMRAN GASHKORI | Sports Journalist | Contact
Over the winter, the nation divides itself up in to the three football codes. Some minority communities follow soccer – but like most self-respecting Australians, we do not fully acknowledge it as a sport.
It’s not until the glorious summer – when men, women and children from all walks of Australian life unite in their love of the great game.
The classic yet classless pastime that sees even the most elite big smoke private schoolboy rub shoulders with the absolute bottom drawer of the Australian caste system – the unemployables.
Cricket is a ladder of which that has no top and no bottom – a revelation that this list explores.
Starting with a young David Hookes, this list is a journey in to the very best moments Australian cricket has turned it up:
10. David Hookes takes on Tony Greig
Monday March 14, day three of the Centenary Test was the Labour Day holiday. Once more playing conditions were ideal, with blue skies overhead. Australia resumed at 3/104. Davis and Walters began intent on consolidation.
Finally, with Davis on 68, a seamer from Tony Greig gave Alan Knott a simple catch. In his first Test, David Hookes came to the crease with Australia 4/132.
Aged just 21, he strode to the crease looking full of confidence. Then he hit the England captain Tony Greig for five successive fours; he matched him in the lip department as well. Greig had taunted him at the pre-match cocktail party:
“Not another Australian left-hander who can’t bat,”;
Hookes retorted, say that at least he was playing for the country he was born in.
After he was out for 56, Greig brought a drink to the dressing-room, and said:
“Mind if I sip with you, son?”
To which Hookes replied:
“Not if you’re going to sip that Pinot Gris in front of me.”
9. Mark and Steve Waugh’s Record Partnership
Two days before Christmas in 1990 saw Mark and Steve Waugh share a world record, unbeaten 464 run partnership for NSW against a full strength Western Australia at the WACA.
Mark made 229 and Steve 216. This was scored between the 2nd and 3rd Tests. That performance helped Steve keep his place in the 3rd Test, but only just. He made 48 and 14 and was dropped for the first time. That partnership also added to the weight of the case for Mark Waugh, Test cricketer. After an inordinate wait, Mark Waugh was chosen to play for Australia, ironically, replacing brother Stephen.
“When they were about 50 or 60 not out, they just looked very set,” said former captain Mark Taylor.
“It just got to the point were you knew it was going to happen.”
Junior remembers the day well.
“I played better than Steve that day,” said Junior.
“He’s good, but that duck-arsed c**t can’t run singles.”
Brother Steve doesn’t recall the day quite as well as Mark.
“Mum and Dad were there,” said Steve.
“They knew Mark would only have a relatively short career so they tried to see as many games as possible.”
8. Jason Gillespie bowls to West Indies in speed dealers
It could have been the time Dizzy belted 201 not out against Bangladesh in his final test.
He came in as nightwatchman late on Day 2 of the second test in Dhaka back in 2005 and retired an Australian hero – but the time he turned it up the most was when he decided to take on the West Indies in 2000 with a pair of spectacular sunglasses “bobbling around on his face”.
The crowd was elated as Wavell Hinds haphazardly drove a ball to Steve Waugh in the covers, who took an absolute howler of a catch. Turns out it was a no ball.
“Warney fish-hooked me a pink mitsubishi some time the night before. I can’t really remember when,” said Gillespie.
The alleged incident took place when Shane Warne was injured in late 2000.
“I was still pretty scat in the morning so I decided to wear sunglasses,”
Captain Steve Waugh knew something was up.
“I knew Dizzy didn’t want me to see his eyes – or anyone else for that matter,” said Waugh.
“Frankly I’m glad he didn’t take them off. He bowled better with them on.”
“Warney got a few people that night. We had to physically restrain him when he said he wanted to fish-hook Richie Benaud.”
Regardless, Gillespie says it was all in good fun.
“It’s been a few years and I can’t really remember much. But I do remember Ian Healy getting all hot and bothered to “How Do You Want It? [Dirty] by Tupac (feat. K Ci & JoJo)” in the early hours – that was odd.”
7. Jeff Thomson broke David Lloyd’s penis at the WACA in 1974
If David Lloyd had a dollar for each time he’s had to tell this story, he’d have enough money to buy a sandwich in Woollahra.
“I don’t know why people make me tell the story over and over again,” said Lloyd.
“It was a very traumatic and embarrassing experience,”
“My father was a Royal Marine in the war – I never asked him to tell me the story of how he greased half a platoon of Nazis at Anzio over and over again,”
He found himself in a tough neighbourhood at the WACA, Perth, in December 1974 when he made his Ashes debut in the second Test. Pummelled into defeat by the fearsome bowling of Jeff Thomson and Dennis Lillee in the opening match which Lloyd missed through injury, England restored Bumble as opener and he quickly found himself joined at the wicket by the 42-year-old Cowdrey, who had been sitting with his feet up at home when he received an SOS (Save Our Skins) from the England selectors.
After making a heroic 49 in his first knock, Lloyd was making dogged progress in the second innings when Thomson caught him ‘full on’ in the most tender part of the anatomy.
“We wore little pink plastic boxes at the time which were totally unsuitable for the job,” he explained.
“It cracked open and what I had inside fired through before the box snapped shut again like a guillotine coming down. Even after 32 years, I lose my voice just thinking about it. There’s retired hurt and then there’s retired hurt.”
6. Shane Warne’s reaction to a dreadful reverse sweep
Paul Adams was known as “the frog in the blender” on account of his bewildering bowling action, but when faced with the master spinner, Shane Warne, it was his batting that got into a tangle.
In the second Test at Port Elizabeth he unwisely opted to try out his reverse-sweep, but instead of picking out the gap at third man he succeeded only in shovelling the ball straight into Mark Taylor’s hands at slip.
Warne immediately fell about laughing and even Adams managed to see the funny side, but South Africa’s coach, Bob Woolmer, was less amused.
“That was a little disappointing,”he intoned.
“There was no need to mock him.”
Shane Warne said that he missed “that kind of cricket” – back in the good old days.
“God… Adams. He was f**king hopeless,” recalls Warne.
“Luckily, he’s a good enough bloke to laugh something like that off.”
5. Michael Bevan’s last ball boundary to beat West Indies
There have been so many great finishes in the history of limited overs cricket that you can remember the exact lounge chair you sat in when that miraculous moment occurred. Michael Bevan’s last ball four on the first day of 1996 was one of them. Australia were chasing a measly 173 off 43 overs for victory against the West Indies, but a batting collapse and the team falling to 7-74 made the total look out of severely out of reach.
“It was a sombre mood in the Australian dressing room. Everybody except me had failed to score anything notable, but I must confess to believing that it would only reduce our margin of defeat,” captain Mark Taylor recalls.
With Shane Warne’s dismissal leaving the score at 9-167 and Glenn McGrath striding towards the crease, Australia’s fate was in Bevan’s hands. But with four runs required for victory and only one ball remaining, Taylor still doubted his side’s chances.
“That selfish f**k only had to keep Bevo on strike and we would’ve s**t it in,” chuckles Taylor.
“Instead he tried the old heave ho and got himself caught,”
Taylor said he thought McGrath had no chance of getting the Australians home.
“The pest cannot bat. Not even a little bit,” said Taylor.
“I wasn’t holding my breath – I lost that ability from smoking White Ox as a teen,”
With Roger Harper steaming in, many batsmen would look to heave the ball to the on-side in search of a boundary. Bevan had other ideas, noticing that the largest gap was behind the bowler. He steadied himself and dispatched the ball down the long boundary, crashing into the fence to complete an incredible victory amid wild crowd celebrations.
“The feeling in the change rooms that night was about as good as it gets,” Taylor adds.
“That game was just so special and unforgettable, to come back from what seemed impossible and witness an innings like Bevan’s was amazing.”
4. Ricky Ponting takes the wicket of Michael Vaughn
“His bowling is the true definition of mediocre,” said Glen McGrath.
“I could rest a bat against the stumps and go to pub for the afternoon session,” chuckled Shane Warne.
Many of the world’s greatest cricketers never had the rare privilege to face an over from Ricky Ponting. His woeful medium pace is as rare as a well-worded Warney text message – just don’t say that to English batsman Michael Vaughn.
“I can’t fucking believed that happened,” said Vaughn.
“My son has more bowling talent and he plays football.”
He has taken 5 test wickets. Interestingly two of the five have been test captains for their countries, Michael Vaughn and Jimmy Adams.
“I’m the first to admit that I can’t bowl,” said Ponting.
“I used to get my mother to bowl to be in the yard when Dad was at work. I pretty much learnt how to bowl from her.”
3. Michael Clarke takes three wickets in the final over to humiliate India
The day began with the Australians extending their lead and, with the showers staying away, Ricky Ponting declared slightly later than most observers had predicted, after Michael Hussey had hit a majestic 145.
Ponting finally pulled the plug on his team’s second innings shortly before lunch with the total on 401-7.
With India needing 333 to win, which was never on the cards, but Wasim Jaffer gave Australia an early fillip when he fell to Brett Lee in the first over.
Ganguly had played positively, making 51 off 56 balls, but India were four wickets from defeat and there were still nearly 32 overs remaining.
“They were being difficult,” recalls Ponting.
“We had upstairs booked at Hugo’s for 6pm and were keen to wrap it up,”
With Brad Hogg unable to gain a breakthrough, Ponting’s final throw of the dice was to go for a third spinner in Clarke.
“He’d done it before in Mumbai,” said Ponting.
“So I threw the little c**t the ball and told him to clean up the tail,”
Clarke remembers the exchange well.
“I thought he was joking,” said Clarke.
“But then he just walked back to his mark and told me to “get a f**king move on,”
Bowling his slow left-armers that had never brought him a Test wicket in Australia, he struck with the first ball of his second over, Harbhajan gloving to slip.
Australia were two wickets from victory and their tails were up again.
“Fuck me!” I though. We could actually do this,” said Clarke.
“Ricky gave me the thumbs up,”
Only 11 deliveries remained when India’s number 10, RP Singh, came to the crease.
But he could not even defend his first, which pitched in line and straightened – umpire Mark Benson giving him out lbw.
“I could taste the Cascade,” said Ponting.
“Only that lanky, long-haired c**t stood between me and that fine Tasmanian lager,”
India’s last batsman Ishant Sharma safely defended his first two balls but, needing to block two more to leave Kumble on strike for the final over, he edged a wider ball to Hussey at slip and Australia had won a memorable Test match.
“I thought I was going to have a seizure,” said Ponting.
“I can’t believe he pulled it off.”
Clarke’s 11 previous Test wickets had included a spell of 6-9 in a Mumbai Test that Australia lost. But this spell of 3-5 in 11 balls proved more deadly.
“I knew that if I didn’t get those wickets, my life wouldn’t be worth living,” recalls Clarke.
“Luckily for me, that Indian lower order was f**king hopeless that summer – we’ll see what they’re like this summer.”
2. Allan Donald’s almighty “f**k up” in 1999 World Cup Semi Final
Play, pause, rewind.
For weeks after the 1999 World Cup semi-final, Allan Donald’s life revolved around a video tape and a television – all conspiring to play back one terrible image.
“It was an almighty f**k up,”recalls Donald.
“My friends still make fun of me,”
Last over of the World Cup semi-final. Scores tied. Lance Klusener on strike. Donald at the non-striker’s end. Damien Fleming bowling.
With one wicket in hand and one run needed for South Africa to advance to the final, Klusener pushed the ball firmly to Mark Waugh at mid-off and, inexplicably, called for a single. But Donald was watching the ball – and the lightning reflexes of the Australian fieldsmen. Waugh fielded, flicking the ball to Fleming, who rolled it to Adam Gilchrist, who removed the bails.
“Even my son gets teased about it at school,” said Donald.
The former South African quick is now a teacher at an exclusive KwaZulu-Natal college – where he says he still cannot escape the torment.
“The kids will listen to me until the cows come home about my bowling,” said Donald.
“But when I offer advice in the nets on batting, their eyes glaze over,”
Donald was run out well short of his ground, sparking an emotional outburst from the Australians rarely seen on an international cricket field. Klusener was devastated. And Donald’s expression of despair was beamed live to billions of viewers worldwide. One World Cup dream was materialising, another had ended.
“I would watch that video more than 10 times a day, just watching it and watching it,” Donald said.
“I struggled to come to terms with it. I was the one run-out so I blamed myself. My wife said I was just doing myself more harm, and Hansie (Cronje) told me I shouldn’t have even been in that situation to begin with.”
1. Glenn McGrath scores a half century.
There was a lot of heated debate at the Betoota Hotel last night about what was the loosest moment in Australian cricketing history.
Some said it was Warney making 99 twice, which is pretty funny but sad at the same time.
But I’m the one writing this terrible article so I get to choose – and it’s Pigeon’s half century at the Gabba. From all reports inside the dressing room, McGrath is a terrible batsman. So bad, that even Steve Waugh gave up on him.
“Iceman used to stand behind me in the nets with a super soaker full of Merv Hughes’s piss,” said Glenn.
“Every time I got out, he’d squirt me with it. Needless to say, the big man’s piss didn’t make me a better batsman.”
It wasn’t until the Twisty-fingered Ian Healy got binned and a specky young Perth resident made the team.
“I made it my mission to get Glenn batting like an Australia. He wouldn’t have even made muster in Zimbabwe the way he was going,” said Adam Gilchrist.
“The proof is in the pudding. Look how happy I am in the video.”
That night, the Australian cricket team got on the cans, hard. A cocktail was born from the night’s exploits which is still available at one small Caxton Street establishment. The recipe is as follows:
Strained and served in an imperial pint glass.
150mL XXXX Bitter
100mL Tooheys New
150mL Emu Export
150mL Melbourne Bitter
50mL Bundaberg Rum Overproof
50mL Almond Milk